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4 Ways to Switch Up the Boring Burger

Jun 20, 2013 02:35AM ● By Erin Frisch

When you think of summer, what comes to mind? To most, summer means sunshine, beaches, and lazy days by the pool. And what better way to complete those days than with a delicious barbecue! Grilling is the perfect way to cook a variety of foods, and the staple of a killer barbecue is, and always will be, a great burger. But over the course of the summer, your standard hamburgers and cheeseburgers can get kind of boring. Here are four ways you can spice up your traditional barbecued burger this summer.

Try a ground chicken burger with an Asian flair. Turn a chicken burger into a juicy, exotic Banh Mi burger by adding Asian ingredients to give it a bolder flavor. For the juiciest burgers, choose ground dark-meat chicken or a mixture of light and dark meat. The dark meat helps keep the burgers moist during grilling. Buy some chili-garlic paste (available at Asian grocery stores if you can’t find it at your supermarket), and mix with a little mayonnaise to taste for topping your burgers. Mix 2 tablespoons fish sauce, 2 finely chopped scallions (white and light green parts), 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger, 1 teaspoon chopped cilantro leaves, 1 teaspoon lime zest, 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice, ½ teaspoon salt, and ⅛ teaspoon pepper in a bowl, then add one and a half pounds ground chicken. Form into patties, grill until done, top with pickled carrots, chili mayo, a bit more cilantro, and romaine lettuce, and serve on Vietnamese sandwich rolls.

Ground pork and chorizo make a Mexican burger. Pork is the other white meat. Add avocado and some chorizo to it for a spicy kick! Look for Mexican chorizo, which is different from the Spanish variety. If you can’t find it, substitute any fresh spicy sausage. Combine 1 pound ground pork with 2 finely chopped medium garlic cloves and 6 ounces Mexican chorizo (removed from casing). Form into 4 patties of equal size and grill until patties reach 145° inside. Grill 4 Anaheim chiles until softened and charred, then steam in a covered bowl until the skins can be peeled off easily. Grill the avocados for about 5 minutes until soft. Select avocados that are a bit firm so they can soften while cooking. Season the chiles with freshly squeezed lime juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Mash the avocados with cilantro and lime juice. Divide the avocado between 4 toasted buns, and top each with a patty and some chiles.

Go vegetarian with a portobello burger. While you might not think a mushroom can stand in for your traditional hamburger, turn it into a double decker and give your taste buds a treat. Marinate 8 portobello mushrooms for 30 minutes at room temperature in a mixture of ¼ cup balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 2 finely chopped medium-sized garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon pepper, and ½ cup olive oil. Grill the mushrooms for 2 to 3 minutes until brown, then flip and grill them with the top closed for about 4 minutes. Top with provolone cheese and grill until melted. Toast 4 ciabatta buns, then spread basil pesto on each and add a slice of tomato. Stack two portobellos on each, add lettuce, and the top bun—that’s amore!

Take the humble cheeseburger to new heights by stuffing it. Surprise your family and friends at your next barbecue by putting the cheese inside the burger instead of on top. Choose quality ground beef with at least 15% fat content (20% fat offers the best flavor). Mix one and a half pounds of meat with ½ teaspoon garlic powder, a little more than 1 teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper, and a couple of dashes of Worcestershire sauce. Divide into 8 thin patties. Choose a cheese (the best are melty cheeses like cheddar, pepper jack, and American, but my personal favorite is blue cheese). Cut the cheese into 1-inch squares and stack two to four pieces together, depending on how thinly sliced it is. Place in the center of one patty, cover with another patty, and pinch the edges together to seal tightly. Form the cheese-stuffed patties into traditional burger shapes of even thickness. Grill 3 to 4 minutes per side, then serve on toasted hamburger buns with your favorite burger toppings.

How do you like to spice up your barbecues?

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