Grill A Burger Fit For A President

4th of July bbq
Fourth of July cookouts are an American tradition, and while there are a great variety of items prepared at these cookouts, the most popular is the hamburger.

There are many ways to personalize a burger and everyone has a secret technique or ingredient, but former White House chef Walter Scheib tells The Early Show there are a few key points in preparing a great burger that are common to all preparations.

Scheib is best known for the lavish creations he prepared during the Clinton administration as well as the Bush administration.

The following are his tips; page 2 has his recipes.

  1. The Meat
    For the most flavor and juiciness freshly ground chuck is the best. The meat should have between 80/20 and 85/15-ratio of lean to fat, this occurs naturally in chuck meat. Avoid buying pre-ground meat, if possible, as older meat loses flavor and moisture. The best way is to ask your market's butcher to grind the meat fresh for you, or if you want, you can grind it at home. When buying figure on between 6 and 8 ounces of meat per burger.
  2. Forming and seasoning

    Be sure that when forming the patties all surfaces and your hands are very clean. Form the cold meat into 6 to 8 ounces patties with a gentle rounding motion. Don't over form the patties as this makes them dense and tough. Try to keep the patties at least 1/2 inch thick and of consistent thickness for even cooking. You may want to add a little salt and pepper to the meat when forming, but you can just as easily season right before cooking. Salting the meat too far in advance can cause it to lose moisture and get tougher. Form the patties as close to cooking time as possible and store them covered in the refrigerator.

  3. Cooking

    Getting the fire just right is the crucial step in the cooking process, it cannot be too hot and flaming or too cold. Whether you use briquettes or hardwood charcoal, the fire must be completely lit and burning well without flaming. Spread the coals to form an even bed for an even cooking temperature. Too hot will burn the meat and too cool will not give the color and flavor desired. When the coals are ready, very lightly oil the grill and gently lay the patties on the hot grill. In general, for a medium to medium-rare burger, cook for 6-7 minutes per side - longer if the patty is very thick. Only turn the burger one time if possible, and NEVER press the burger as this causes a great loss of flavor and moisture.

  4. Buns and condiments

    This is where you can personalize your burger; there are a wide variety of cheeses, salsas, condiments, toppings and spreads you can use. Scheib prefers the simpler approach: some grilled sweet onions and a slice of sharp cheddar cheese. As to the bread, everyone has a favorite, his is a soft potato roll, but what ever you use, make sure it is fresh and warm.