The difference between a disappearing plate of seared perfection and a ho-hum “I’d rather be playing horseshoes” pile of pulverized steer begins in the meat department.
“People don’t choose the right meat. If you want the perfect burger, you have to start with 80/20 beef (80 percent lean meat, 20 percent fat),” says Chef Devin Godbey for starters, building on that aforementioned foundation. “Choose an artisan bun (like a potato roll or ciabatta bread), put a little butter on it and grill it. So much better than an ordinary bun …”
How Chef Devin, burger architect, progresses upward from there is skimping on nothing in-between, including the cooking, the dressing and the accessorizing, predicting Latin inspirations for this summer’s flavor forecast.
Chef Devin dedicates here not only her Mexican-spiced burger best, kissed with a mole (rhymes with olé) rub and black bean, mango chutney spread, but the classiest backyard accompaniments: A refreshingly spiced Agua Fresca drink, a pasta salad reminiscent of her trips to Saint Augustine and a coastal alternative to burgers — a Mahi-Mahi fish taco with Jalapeno-Pineapple Slaw. But first, the basics …
Rule No. 1: Get it Hot, Hot, Hot
This isn’t a drive-thru shooting for most customers served. The discriminating grill chef and any guests should throw rigid agenda out the window in deference to flavor.
“You have to start working with a hot grill. Take the time to preheat and get it nice and hot, then cook the burgers on medium-high, 5 to 7 minutes total for medium doneness… 10 to 12 minutes total for well-done, depending on thickness,” Chef Devin suggests.
Deciding when a burger is ready is an art in itself. Without having to tear the burger apart, losing appearance and flavor, a chef has one no-fail sign of doneness outside of careful timing — it’s in the juice.
“Clear juices will run out of the burger when it’s ready,” suggests Devin.