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Hi everyone, I’m Brian from over at The Life of Brian.   Lexa is away this weekend and she honored me by asking if I would guest blog for her today.  Naturally, I accepted and hopefully I can lend a masculine touch over here today. I hope you enjoy, but  if you don’t, flame away.  She’ll be back Tuesday….

Although it may not feel like it this morning, spring is nearly upon us. Soon we’ll shed our winter coats and mittens in favor of shorts, sundresses and flip flops.  We’ll rediscover the outdoor patios of our favorite watering holes and remember the simple pleasure of enjoying a light brunch outside.  Winter will be a distant memory very very soon.

One of my favorite things about spring, besides all that stuff listed above, is the first cookout of the season.  I’m not talking about the makeshift, wanna-be, middle-of-the-winter-but-it-warmed-up-to-50-today sorta BBQ.  No ma’am, I’m talking about a full blown it’s-been-over-70-degrees-all-week-and-now-it’s-Saturday-so-let’s-BBQ-bitches! kinda BBQ.

Good friends, cold beers, chips and salsa, potato salad, corn on the cob, and of course…   cheeseburgers on the grill.  What could be better right? (OK, so I can think of a few things that would be better, but this is a family blog here)

I love cheeseburgers with all my heart and soul.   No, I’m not talking some fake-ass cheeseburgers that come out of a freezer case.  I’m talking about beautifully hand sculpted mounds of sizzling ground beef, loaded with great toppings.   So here’s my favorite version of the glorious cheeseburger:

Beautiful  Cheeseburgers (makes about 8 1/4lb cheeseburgers)

Ingredients

For the patties

-2lbs of ground beef (I prefer having the butcher grind it for me, but regular ground chuck will do here. No more than 85% lean though)

-2tbsp worcestershire sauce

-2tsp onion powder

-2tsp kosher salt

-2tsp celery salt

-1 egg

-2tbsp of butter, finely diced

Instructions

Combine all the ingredients into a large bowl and mix thoroughly.  Roll into pool ball sized mounds and form into patties about 1 inch thick.  Place on a platter and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Then remove from the fridge and bring to room temperature in a cool, dry place (takes about 30-45 minutes).

During this time, crack open a beer and get that outdoor grill heated up.  After pre-heating for about 20 minutes, lay the patties on the grill and sear on both sides for about 3-4 minutes each. You want a nice  brown crust on both sides of the patty, but you want to to burn it.  Once seared, move to the top rack of the grille (or, in lieu of a top rack, you can make a basket out of aluminum foil and place the burgers in there).  Turn the heat down to medium, or in the case of a charcoal grill, transfer the patties to a cooler portion of the grille surface.   Place your choice of cheese (more on that below) and finish on the top rack for about 3-5 minutes depending on the temperature you like.  Serve on a toasted bun immediately.
The Bun
Ah yes, the bun.  The tie that binds this whole package together.   There will sometimes be ways to cut corners while making burgers, this should never be one of them.   I know that paying $5 for package of buns seems like a lot when there are plenty of $2 packs of buns in the bread isle.  But trust me when I tell you it can make all the difference the world for your little bundles of burger joy.  That cow worked died so you could have a tasty cheeseburger, don’t dishonor it by sticking it in a cheap ass bun.

If you’re so inclined, I also recommened toasting the bun with a little bit of butter too.  It gives it a little bit of crispness and really brings out the flavor of that beautiful piece of bread.

Toppings
People’s choice of toppings vary greatly and can range anywhere from simple ketchup and mustard to bone marrow and foie gras.  Here are the toppings I like to offer when I make my burgers:

-Sauteed red onions

-Sherried and grilled mushrooms

-Sun kissed tomato slices (normal slices of tomato,  sprinkled with salt and sugar and slow cooked in an 200 degree oven for 35 minutes to bring out the tomato flavor

-Romaine lettuce

-Tangy burger sauce (1 part sriracha, 2 parts mayonnaise, dash of lemon juice, dash of salt)

Or, just go crazy with your own.   I try all kinds of stuff on burgers and have found lots of fun ways to jazz it up.

The Cheese
A perfect burger cheese should be melty and creamy, without turning oily or greasy.  American is fine, but try other cheeses like some nice cave aged cheddar, muenster or even Monterrey jack.

Once you have all your pieces together, assemble and enjoy with an ice cold brew or, if you’re not the drinking type, a cold mug of root beer.  Now,  if only I could find my flip flops…

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