By Karen Schulz

Chances are, you’re either hosting a Memorial Day weekend barbeque or going to one. And in all likelihood, burgers are on the menu. After all, what’s more American? If you want to know the simple secret to a perfect burger, read on.

Burgers have definitely taken on a life of their own in the culinary world and who knew how fancy, elaborate, and complicated they could be? There are numerous kinds of meats, toppings, sauces, and buns to choose from, and cooking techniques to navigate.

Frankly, I never really knew how to make a great burger until a few years ago when I read a magazine article on “the best burger ever.” I remember thinking, ‘No way, that’s it?’ Seemed a little too obvious, but the authors were right and I’ve made every burger the same way ever since.

To elevate the ordinary burger to extraordinary, keep it simple and follow these steps.

• Make sure your beef has 20% fat. Less than that will result in a dry burger. So buy 80% lean meat.

• <<Do not>> over handle the beef while making patties, unless you like eating hockey pucks. The secret is to gently press your thumb in the middle of your patty to make a small divot. That way the burger expands as it cooks and stays juicy.

• <<Do not>> press down on burgers with a spatula once they are on the grill. That will only release all of the fat but create huge flames.

•The best cheese? Good old American cheese. The best buns? Soft potato bread rolls.

Sound too simple? Try it and have a tasty Memorial Day weekend.

<<Foolproof Burgers>>

Serves 4.


1 pound lean ground beef

4 slices American cheese

4 potato bread rolls

<Suggested toppings>

Sliced red onions





Japanese mayo (or any mayo)




Preheat grill to medium heat.

Gently divide the ground beef into four patties. Take extra care not to over handle or over pack the patty. When done, use your thumb to make a divot in the center. No need to add any salt or pepper.

Place patties on the grill with thumbprint facing up. Grill for 5 minutes before flipping.

After about 3 minutes, or just before taking burgers off the grill, lay a slice of cheese on each one. Also open up and lay your buns face down on the grill to toast. Close the lid for 30 seconds, or until cheese is melted.

Place a burger on each bottom half of a bun. Let everyone fix their burgers to their liking before putting on the top half.