By Lisa Shrewsbury with Chef Devin Godbey
Lifestyle Editor/ Program Coordinator, UC-Beckley Culinary Arts
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.
Rule No. 2: No Smooshing, Mashing or Pressing
“Burgers will plump when you cook them, and people tend to press them with a spatula to get them done faster, but they’re pushing all of the juices (and flavor) out of the burger.”
What Chef recommends for faster cooking is in the patty prep. “Make a slight indentation in the center of the patty with your thumb. That will keep them from plumping too much.”
Also, resist being knead-y. “Just make a ball, like you would with cookie dough, and press it down lightly before putting on the grill, keeping the indentation in the center,” she recommends.
Rule No. 3: No flip-flops
Grill marks so prolific, people can count them like the rings on a tree do not a perfect patty make. “You should only turn a burger once,” asserts Chef. Enough said.
Chef Devin's Holy Mole Spice Rub
This rub can be used on any other cuts of beef as well as chicken and turkey. Sprinkle on the burger prior to grilling, or mix in the meat before patting out.
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon salt and pepper mix
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1 Tablespoon kosher salt
Dress the perfect burger with slices of tomato, fresh avocado and Chef Devin’s black bean mango chutney:
Black Bean Mango Chutney
1 cup diced mangoes (fresh, frozen or canned)
1 shallot, minced
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 clove garlic, crushed
salt & pepper to taste
1 can black beans, drained
Sauté garlic and shallot in a lightly sprayed or oiled pan until soft. Add mangoes and reduce until thickened. Add black beans and thoroughly combine, also stirring in cumin, salt and pepper. Remove from heat and cool. Spread on choice of grilled bun for burgers or use as a sandwich spread.
Ginger Lime and Basil
(Agua frescas combine fresh fruit, fruit juice and simple syrup blended in water for a light, refreshing summer spritzer, with or without alcohol)
6-8 (depending on size) limes juiced/zested
1 1/2 cups Ginger Simple Syrup
2 cups club soda or other sparking beverage
Fresh mint and basil leaves
Sugar cane stir sticks, lime slices and sprigs of mint and basil for garnish
Mix one cup of granulated sugar and 1 cup of water plus 1 large piece of fresh ginger peeled and sliced in a saucepan. Cook over low heat until sugar dissolves, letting cool completely and reserving (this can be made in advance).
Remove the skin of the lime with a vegetable peeler and place the strips in the lime juice.
When ready to serve, mix the ginger syrup and lime juice together. If preparing in a glass pitcher add lime slices and sprigs of mint and basil to the pitcher and stir to combine flavors. To finish the beverages, choose 4 tall glasses. Add lime slices to the bottom and on the rim. Fill about halfway with the lime mixture. Finish the glass with club soda and add the sugar cane stick for stirring and garnish.
For a spirited version, Chef Devin suggests adding rum.
Saint Augustine Spanish Pasta Salad
1 pound Cavatappi or pasta of your choice (cooked to al dente) and chilled
1/2 cup Spanish olive oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons oregano
1 fresh lime, juiced
1/8 cup Worcestershire sauce/or to taste
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 cup diced tomatoes/ grape or cherry assorted colors
1 1/2 cups Manzanilla olives cut in half
6 ounces Swiss cheese, small diced
6 ounces black forest ham (or any ham you like) thinly sliced
1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
Combine vinaigrette ingredients until blended; add to cooked, chilled pasta with chopped toppings. Finish with the Romano cheese and serve.
4 fillets of fish of your choice (we used mahi mahi)
1 lime zested
2 garlic cloves minced
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
Let fish fillets marinate for a few hours or overnight in refrigerator.
Remove fish from marinade and grill for about five minutes total, depending on fish choice and size. Use a heated grill pan or grill-friendly foil to avoid fish flaking and falling through cracks. Fish will still absorb the smoky flavor of being cooked on the grill.
Serve fish on tortillas of your choice with slaw, avocado and sour cream or plain Greek yogurt.
Jalapeno and Pineapple Slaw
2 cups of red cabbage, julienne
1 cup fresh pineapple diced
1 small fresh jalapeno minced
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1-2 Tablespoons honey
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon fresh minced garlic
Mix all ingredients together and reserve for tacos.
With a little pro know-how for the person in the apron, a grill can become a mode of transportation, transforming an ordinary backyard get-together into a delicious destination. Here’s to sunny skies and happy grilling!
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