Consider this twist on a simply and easy-to-grill backyard favorite: the Cognac burger. Sure, you could smoke a rack of baby backs, or babysit a 12lb. pork shoulder, but if you want to maximize your time with family and step away from the cooker, a plate full of all-beef patties, that’ll cook up in six minutes or less, is the way to go.
Ingredient List (4 – 6 oz burgers)
1 1/2 Tbs Cognac
2 tsp Dijon Mustard
1 Tbs minced fresh chives
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
4 buns and desired toppings
A great burger starts with great ground chuck. You could buy the pre-ground 80-20 from your local grocer, problem is, you don’t know what’s in it or what part of the animal it came from. I suggest picking up a chuck roast and have your butcher grind it for you; there’s a fair amount of fat and therefore, a fair amount of flavor. Have them run the meat through the grinder twice to get a finer (burger quality) ground chuck. Expect some weight loss (2-3%) to the grinder.
Once you’ve got the meat safely home and ready for the grill, combine the Cognac, Dijon, chives, salt and pepper with the ground beef and work the ingredients into the meat. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. The more the ingredients are incorporated into the meat, the more flavor in every bite.
Divide the meat into four equal portions (6oz) and work the meat into shape. To avoid the telltale bulge that appears in a homemade burger, make a depression in the center of the patty by gently pressing down with your fingers. As the meat cooks and the muscle fibers expand they will push the depression up creating a perfectly flat patty.
Heat your grill to medium hot (you should be able to hold your hand 5 inches above the grates for no longer than 3 or 4 seconds). Grill the patties, uncovered, and don’t even think about pressing them down into the grates. As a matter of fact, once they’ve hit the heat leave them alone until you’re ready to flip – about 2 1/2 minutes; they should have a nice char on the surface.
Grill marks are a great indication that everything is going according to plan. If you’re missing the grill marks you may have to redistribute the patties that are lagging to a warmer area on the grates. Flip the burgers and continue grilling until you’ve reached your desired internal temperature.
An instant-read thermometer, like the Super-Fast Thermapen, with its reduce tip probe and super-fast readings is ideal for smaller cuts like these. And with several patties on the heat you’ll be able to negotiate your way through several burgers before you’ve had a chance to overcook any of them. Look for 125°F for rare, 135°F for medium rare, 140°F for medium and 150°F for medium well. If you want yours well done – there’s the door!