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If you want a reputation as a great burger joint, you’ve got to master every nuance of burger prep and presentation. Use these helpful dos and don’ts to make the most of your burger offering and deliver the ultimate taste experience for your patrons

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Avoid the smack-down

Most burger experts would say, “Never, never, never smash down the meat on the grill. Ever.” When you smash down the patty, you squeeze out the juices – which carry all the flavor. Some burger chains have had success with the concept of smashing the patty down on the grill to create a crispy outer crust – but generally speaking, it makes for a flat and boring burger. Which means your image could take a hit.  

Keep it cool

If you’re cooking up fresh patties, keep them cool in the backroom fridge right up to grilling time. It’ll help the meat preserve its properties, flavor and character. Wash your hands in cold water before handling to keep your body heat from affecting the meat’s properties. Most frozen patties, however, are meant to cook directly from the frozen state for convenience. Slacking out frozen patties may produce a less-than-ideal result.

Watch your burger-bun ratio

There aren’t many more important culinary marriages than a burger and its bun. Remember, the bun can form more than half of the burger’s taste experience. Try for a meat-to-bun ratio of 1:1, with buns that are about 4 to 4-1/2 inches round. The goal is for your patron to get a taste of every element – meat, bun and toppings – in every bite.

Let it cook

After you place the patty, let the grill do its thing. There’s no need to keep pushing the patty around until you have a sear – which will be obvious when the patty comes right off the heat. If it sticks, it’s not ready for flipping. You should only have to touch the burger three to four times, at most.

Master the criss-cross

Achieving that unmistakable criss-cross burger pattern isn’t as hard as you think. After you get the first sear, do a quarter turn, leave it alone for a little longer – a total of five to six minutes for that first side. Then flip it, cooked-side up, leave it another three to four minutes and do another quarter turn, let it get its marking, then take it off the grill. Be sure to cook to an internal temperature of 160°F to ensure safety.

Some rest is best

Like with steaks, it’s important to let the burger rest for two to three minutes after you take it off the heat. This allows the burger to redistribute its juices, to create a more even taste experience for patrons from the first bite to the last.

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