For beef burgers, use ground chuck with 15 to 20 percent fat. Ask the butcher to grind it for you and then cook it the same day. Or if you have access to a meat grinder, grind it yourself just before cooking to ensure optimal freshness.

The more fat there is in your ground beef, the more the patties will shrink.

To enhance the flavor of the meat, you can add seasonings and other ingredients, such as finely chopped onion, garlic and Worcestershire sauce. The possibilities are endless!

Your hands are the best tools for mixing the ground meat with the other ingredients. Be sure to wash your hands well with soap and hot water before and after mixing. Use a light touch and DON'T OVERMIX; handling the meat too much will melt the fat and produce an unpleasantly dense burger.

Use your hands or a burger press to form the patties. Again, avoid overhandling the meat and don't compact it, which can cause the burgers to become too dense.

Cook the burgers over a medium-hot fire in a grill. Turn them only once and don't press down on them when cooking, which will cause the juices to escape and encourage flare-ups.

About 2 min before the burgers are done, place the buns, cut sides down, at the edge of the grill until lightly toasted.

Easy flipping Use a grill basket (usually used to grill fish) to make it easy to flip your burgers. They won't fall apart, and you can flip up to 4 burgers at the same time.

Juicy burgers Press a few tiny chunks of ice cold butter, not margarine, into each patty before cooking. Ground chuck makes the best burgers.

Safe hamburger cooking To ensure safe yet delicious hamburgers make patties as usual make a deep thumbprint (depression) in center. This allows center of burger to cook (problem area) without burning edges to crisp.

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