I prefer 85% lean ground chuck for its nice balance of-fat and flavor; if the ground chuck at your grocery store is only labeled 80% lean, choose that over ground sirloin or round, which will offer less flavor.
Light a charcoal or gas grill:
If using charcoal, arrange the coals in an even layer and light one side so that the fire will walk across the coals and will be hotter on one side than the other. If using gas, set one burner to medium high and the other to medium low. When the grill is hot, clean the grate by rubbing it with a grill brush and a wadded-up paper towel.
Meanwhile, shape the patties:
Put the ground meat in a mixing bowl; sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Mix gently and briefly to avoid overworking the meat. Shape the seasoned beef into four patties that are about 1 inch thick. (If you like thicker burgers, shape the patties 1/4 inches thicker and grill the hamburgers a few minutes longer on each side for the same stages of doneness.)
A generous patty that's not too tall (between 1 and 1-1/4 inches thick) will cook evenly and fit well on the bun.
Grill the burgers:
When the first half of the fire has passed its peak intensity and the second half is still quite hot (you should be able to hold your hand 2 inches above this side of the grate for no longer than 2 seconds), grill the burgers, turning them once, until cooked to the doneness you like (about 9 minutes total for medium-rare). Don’t press on the burgers; you’ll only press out the juices. Transfer the burgers to a plate and tent them with aluminum foil while you toast hamburger buns briefly on the cooler side of the grill, cut side down. Serve with an array of toppings to let guests build their own burger.
What goes well with a classic burger? French Fries or Onion Rings and a Double Chocolate Milk Shake, of course!
nutrition information (per serving):
Photo: Amy Albert