With diverse restaurants like Southwestern-flavored Mesa Grill, Spanish-inspired Bolo, American brasserie Bar Americain, and Bobby Flay Steak to his credit, chef-restaurateur Bobby Flay might seem like someone with high-style tastes that veer toward the international. Yet the humble hamburger remains this longtime Food Network star’s favorite food to eat.
The 43-year-old Flay is so enamored of hamburgers that he’s planning to open Bobby’s Burger Palace, a chain of eateries with several locations in the greater New York City area.
If you share Flay’s passion for hamburgers but can’t make it to one of his restaurants, use his tips for making topnotch burgers at home. Add some flair to your standard grilling menu by making Flay’s tuna burgers (recipe follows after the hamburger tips).
Before you grill, follow our expert advice to ensure you avoid common grilling mistakes and to keep your grill cooking better, longer as you make Flay’s recipes as well as our delicious, easy-to-prepare dishes. And if you’re in the market for a new gas grill, read our June 2008 gas-grills report and visit our gas-grills product page.—Kimberly Janeway
Flay’s 4 Steps to a Great Hamburger
1. Skip beef that’s too lean. Flay suggests that you use ground chuck with a 20 percent fat content (80 percent lean). “A burger has to be juicy to be good and you can’t get juicy without fat,” Flay says, noting that a lot of the fat will drip off during the cooking process. If you use beef that’s too lean and you like your burgers cooked passed medium doneness, you’ll end up with a dry burger when the meat is too lean. “If you are watching your weight or are under the care of a physician, then use a leaner meat,” adds Flay.
2. Season the meat liberally. Flay recommends that you season the patties generously with salt and freshly ground pepper. Each patty should be about six ounces.
3. Turn up the heat. To get a nice char on the meat while keeping the inside juicy, cook over high heat, according to Flay, who cautions that you shouldn’t play with the meat while it’s on the grill: Place each patty on the grill (which you should have preheated for 15 to 20 minutes), let it get brown and slightly charred (this will take about 3 minutes), and then flip it. Flip each burger only once or they will start to fall apart. Don’t press on the burger either; this will cause juices to come out of the meat and will cause annoying flare-ups.
4. Break out the toppings. “My ideal burger contains two slices of aged cheddar cheese, two slices of ripe beefsteak tomato, grilled sweet onion, say Vidalia or Walla Walla, crisp romaine or iceberg lettuce, and a strong horseradish mustard,” Flays notes. He adds that the perfect burger calls for a soft, airy bun with sesame seeds.
Photo courtesy of Food Network
Tuna Burgers With Tapenade Aïoli and Red Onion
Makes: 4 burgers.
For the tapenade aïoli
• ¼ cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
• 1 tablespoon capers, drained
• 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
• Zest of 1 lemon
• 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
• 1 teaspoon honey
• ½ cup prepared mayonnaise
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
➢ Combine olives, capers, garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, and honey
in the bowl of a food processor and process until coarsely chopped.
➢ Add the mayonnaise and process until smooth, season with salt and pepper.
➢ Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before serving.
For the burgers
• 1½ pounds fresh tuna steaks, cut into 1/2-inch dice
• 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
• 1 tablespoon chipotle pepper in adobo purée
• 1 tablespoon honey
• 3 tablespoons canola oil
• 2 green onions, green and pale-green part, thinly sliced
• Salt and freshly ground pepper
• 4 kaiser rolls
• 2 ounces watercress
• 1 red onion, peeled, halved and thinly sliced.
➢ Shape the ground tuna firmly into eight round uniform patties,
each about 11/2 inches thick. Cover and place in the refrigerator for
at least 30 minutes. (The burgers must be very cold to hold their shape
when cooking.) You’ll eventually create four 6-ounce burgers, using two
patties for each.
➢ Whisk together the mustard, chipotle, honey, oil, and green onion in a bowl, Season this dressing with season with salt and pepper.
➢ Divide the mixture into four equal portions. To make each burger, place some of the dressing on top of a patty and mold it together with another patty. Repeat three times so you have four tuna burgers.
➢ Grill the burgers over high heat until lightly golden brown and slightly charred on both sides, 3 to 4 minutes per side for medium doneness.
➢ Slather some of the aioli on the top and bottom of each kaiser roll and place a few slices of red onion and several sprigs of watercress on the bottom half. Place a burger on each bun bottom and put on the bun top.
Mr Flay...I heard an interview where you talked about having a problem with flame-up while cooking for your wife...I have designed a charcoal grill that has flame control...if you have an interest I would take pleasure in sending info...imagine being able to charcoal grill without the worry of flame-up...