Preparing meals on the grill lets you enjoy the outdoors—and it's also a low-fat cooking method that makes the most of many fresh foods.
Robin Kline, a registered dietitian and director of the Pork Information Bureau (PIB) for the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC) recommends following these tips for grilling Burgers this summer:
Store it—Ground pork, like other ground meats, will stay fresh in the refrigerator for one or two days. If you plan to keep it longer than a few days, pre-portion the ground pork into patties, wrap and freeze in resealable plastic bags.
The Perfect Patty—When shaping the patties of ground pork, try to handle as little as possible since overmixing meat of any kind tends to toughen it, leaving it dense and heavy.
Pressing Issue—Don't press your spatula down on the burger while it's on the grill. The burger will lose juices and could start unwanted flames.
Outdoor Tastes—Use wood chips added to hot coals to give burgers a smoky flavor.
Grill Away From Home—Grilling doesn't have to be limited to the backyard—grill on the go. By purchasing a small portable grill, summer cookouts can move to the park or beach for an outdoor picnic. Perfect picnics with ground pork will be the highlight of the summer's activities.
Once the foundation is laid, Kline suggests moving beyond basic burgers to top the burger with grilled or sautéed vegetables, flavorful sauces and gourmet condiments such as:
Kline also recommends combining toppings to create regional and ethnic flavors for your next burger. For Southwestern flavors, top with salsa and guacamole for a Santa Fe Burger. Or make an Italian Burger topped with pesto and a mix of cheeses.
For convenience, Kline recommends grilling fresh vegetable toppings like peppers, onions and tomatoes at the same time you grill the burgers. Also, keep condiments like seasoned mayonnaise, cajun sauces, relishes and herbed butters on-hand for flavorful, last-minute topping. And doctor up traditional barbecue sauce with cayenne pepper, cumin and onion powder for a south-of-the-border taste, or mix with whole berry cranberry sauce for a fruity twist.
Don't be limited to serving the burger on a burger bun. Pick breads that fit your topping theme. For example, Kline recommends serving the Santa Fe Burger open-faced on hearty cornbread and enjoying the Italian Burger on focaccia.
For a twist on the traditional burger bun, brush the inside of the bun with one of the new flavor-infused olive oils and then grill it for a minute or two before serving. Kline suggests trying hot pepper oil and roasted garlic oil. Or brush the inside of the bun with olive oil, a crushed clove or garlic and chopped fresh herbs like tarragon, basil or dill.
For international burgers, top with:
Caribbean Burger—Mango slices, hot pepper sauce, slices of red onion and chopped fresh cilantro. Serve on grilled burger bun brushed with olive oil.
Mediterranean Burger—A mixture of plain yogurt, chopped fresh dill and chopped cucumber. Serve in a pita bread pocket.
Italian Burger—A dab of pesto and a mix of shredded mozzarella, Parmesan, Romano and provolone cheeses. Serve on focaccia.
Thai Burger—A peanut sauce mixture made from peanut butter, hot pepper oil and a dash of soy sauce. Serve on grilled burger bun brushed with hot pepper infused oil.
Provided by Pork Information Bureau
This page originally published as a FoodDay article in 1997.
Copyright © 2007, Forkmedia LLC. All rights reserved.
This page modified January 2007
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