Let’s face it. Most of you reading my column find it interesting, but don’t go as deep into the BBQ world as to smoke Boston butts and beef briskets. Most of your outdoor cooking would entail grilling things like burgers, brats, hotdogs and chicken. Heck, I would say the majority of my outdoor cooking fits into that description as well. So today’s column is for the “burgers and brats” crowd, of which I am a proud member.
I’m going to give you two specific recipes that are very unique and will transform your burger or brat into something totally different. But first, let me share some grilling techniques that have served me well for many years.
1. As it relates to making a burger patty, the best mix to use is 80-20 ground beef, meaning the beef has 20% fat content. This will result in a juicy burger. Also, when shaping your patties, make sure the center is slightly thinner than the outside circumference of the patty. This prevents your burger from turning into a large oddly shaped meatball as it is grilled. Seasoning? Salt and pepper is all you need
2. With your brats, and this may sound counter-intuitive, but take a fork and pierce the brat two or three times on two sides. This practice applies to both beer brats as well as brats that are only grilled. Why? As a brat cooks, pressure builds up inside the casing, causing some of them to burst. The holes let out just enough steam to keep the brat fully and beautifully intact.
3. With both burgers and brats, learn how to make the “indirect heat” method of grilling your friend. You will then be in total control.
OK, let’s talk toppings. I’m going to provide you with easy recipes for pickled red onions and pickled radishes. Both of these are great toppings on burgers, brats and pulled pork. You will be shocked how different radishes taste and look after being pickled. Before getting to those recipes, here’s an idea for you if you like spicy and savory on your burger. Don’t laugh. Spread peanut butter on your freshly grilled burger and top with fresh sliced jalapeños. The number of seeds you leave on the peppers will determine the spiciness of the burger. Give it a try. Now onto the two toppings, both of which use the same picking recipe.
1 cup hot water
1 cup white or apple cider vinegar
1 1⁄2 tsp sea or kosher salt
2 tsp of granulated sugar (you can also use honey)
1 tsp dried pepper flakes (optional)
Place everything in a bowl and stir until all salt and sugar is fully dissolved. If you are doing both radishes and onions you will need to double the above recipe. For the radishes, clean them (we used 14 normal sized radishes) and then slice them as thinly as possible. If you have a mandoline that would be perfect. Peel and slice the onions thinly too. We used two medium sized red onions. In the case of the radishes I also added some hot peppers, finely chopped. Place onions in one bowl and the radishes in another. Pour the picking liquid over the radishes and onions and place in the fridge covered for at least an hour or two. Pile them on top of whatever you are grilling and enjoy! You’ll thank me.