Happy National Barbecue Month! If you haven’t already set up your outdoor cookers, now’s the time to get outside and fire things up. Adding a bit of cold smoke before smoke-grilling burgers and brats is an easy way to get those over-the-top flavors at your next cookout. With a Smoke Chief cold smoker generator, adding smoke flavor is easy to do in virtually any type of gas grill or charcoal barbecue. The smoke can be added with or without heat, or a combination of both, which is what we prefer.
Let’s start with the burger. For optimal flavor, it’s always best to grind your own meat. Depending on personal preference or what is available, burger can be ground from about any cut of beef. For a lean burger, go for the top round (sometimes called a London Broil because of the cooking method). For a little juicier burger go for the chuck and sirloin combination, usually more chuck than sirloin. If the burger is still a little lean, adding a strip or two of bacon to the grind per pound of beef, will add moisture and another layer of flavor as well. When trimming up the meat to grind, get rid of any silverskin but keep the attached fat and run it through the grinder. For best results, use the medium grinder plate as this is small enough to keep your burger together but big enough to give it a light texture. Grinding with a smaller plate or running meat through the grinder more than once will make burgers heavy and dense. When shaping burgers, take care not to compact them too much as this can also toughen up the meat. Feel free to add seasoning to the grind before or after making patties but hold off on the salt. Adding salt to ground meat or even salting patties before putting them on the grill affects the quality of the patty due to the chemical changes that take place when meat mixes with salt.
And now for the brats. Even though we put many things into the category of bratwurst, originally created by the Germans, cold smoked sausages that go great on the grill may come from all kinds of meat combinations and ethnic origins. Regardless of what you choose for your next barbecue, for the tastiest sausages, choose something that isn’t precooked. Starting with a raw bratwurst or sausage insures the absorption of the cold smoke from the Smoke Chief, and usually produces a more moist end product. When cooking for large groups, try a variety of sausages and give several different brands a try. The beauty of the brat is in how easy they are to prepare as they come already seasoned and don’t require a recipe.
When cooking burgers and brats, don’t neglect the fixin’s as these tasty offerings can create some winning combinations. For inspiration, look at the menu in an upscale burger place and have some of these things available for folks to build their own masterpieces. From grilled onions, to butter sautéed mushrooms, to fresh avocado and gourmet cheeses, the sky is the limit. The buns can be equally important; while some people prefer a soft white bun, others want more flavor. It’s nice to have a few choices on-hand including whole grain options, brioche buns or ciabatta rolls. All buns taste better when lightly buttered or brushed with olive oil and grilled a minute or so before serving.
Simple Burger Seasoning
1 pound ground beef
1 teaspoon granulated onion
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
In a small bowl mix dry seasonings. After grinding meat, sprinkle seasonings on the meat and gently mix before forming into patties. Do not add salt until burgers are cooking on the hot grill.
COLD-SMOKING BURGERS & BRATS
Prepare the Smoke Chief Cold Smoke Generator by filling with pellets. Place burgers and brats onto grill grates leaving space in between for smoke flow. Cold smoke meat at least 30 minutes. Remove meat and heat grill to medium-high heat. Keeping the cold smoke generator going, cook burgers and brats to desired doneness. Serve immediately or move cooked burgers and brats to a warming area to keep warm before serving. Keep burgers and brats from drying out by letting them sit on a warm part of the grill in a heat-safe pan with a bit of beef broth on the bottom.
Article and recipe provide by Tiffany Haugen (www.tiffanyhaugen.com)