Heavenly Burgers

These burgers are so good, you won't need condiments at the table. Ground round is joined by grilled Vidalia onions, fresh guacamole, Monterey jack cheese, a slice of tomato and grilled garlic buns for a perfect combination of flavors and textures.

By Russ Faulk, Kalamazoo Outdoor Gourmet
Serves 8
Image of Heavenly Burgers

  • 3 cloves garlic
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 8 golden hamburger buns, split
  • Hickory-smoked or alder-smoked salt
  • 8 patties Choice ground round, 85% lean, 1/2-pound each, 1-inch thick
  • 2 Vidalia onions
  • 3 avocados
  • 2 limes
  • Small handful cilantro leaves, chopped
  • 8 slices Monterey jack cheese
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, sliced 1/4-inch to 3/8-inch thick

A couple of hours before cooking, crush the garlic cloves into about 1/2 cup of olive oil. Let sit at room temperature, stirring once or twice while the garlic infuses the oil.Prepare the grill for direct cooking at 400°F to 500°F.While the grill is heating, brush the garlic-infused olive oil onto the sliced sides of the hamburger buns and then sprinkle with salt.

Recess the centers of the ground round patties (see our tip below on the perfect burger). Brush the patties on both sides with the remaining garlic-infused olive oil and sprinkle with salt.

Slice the onions 3/4-inch-thick (see our tip below on grilled onions) and sprinkle with salt.

Cut the avocados in half lengthwise, working around and not cutting through the pit. Remove the pit and scoop out the meat into a large bowl. Mash them coarsely. Stir in the juice of 1 to 2 limes, the cilantro and salt to taste. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing the wrap down into the simple guacamole to keep oxygen out.

Place the onion slices on the grill in a cooler area of the direct grilling zone. Turn after about 7 minutes. Add the burgers directly over the hottest part of the fire after about 3 minutes more. If you have special requests for temperature, start well-done burgers earlier and medium-rare burgers later. For medium burgers, cook, turning once, for about 12 to 15 minutes total. When you turn the burgers over, top each with a couple rings of grilled onion and then add a slice of cheese to melt over the top.

As the burgers near completion, add the buns to the grill, cut-side-down. Cook until lightly toasted without drying the buns out. Remove the buns from the grill and spread the simple guacamole onto the bottom half of each. Transfer the cooked burgers to the buns on top of the guacamole. Add a slice of tomato and the top bun to each and serve.

Grilling Tip: Perfect Burgers

First, try to select Choice grade beef. Choice ground round is my favorite way to go, and I think it improves the quality of a burger far more than it increases the price. Ground round is delivered to most markets in a tube-shaped plastic bag. Ask the butcher to cut off 1-inch-thick slices, creating patties that are about 1/2-pound each. This is the perfect thickness and weight for the grill, and I think the lack of handling helps with the texture. Forming the patties rather than slicing them can lead to over-working the burgers, and they can end up a little tough.

Chef Bobby Flay offers a tip to compensate for the way a juicy burger plumps up on the grill. By recessing the patty in the middle before cooking, the burger becomes flat when it plumps up. I also think this brilliantly simple tip also helps the burgers cook evenly. Just use your fingers to recess the middle of each patty a bit from both sides.

The next step in a perfect burger is to brush it with olive oil. This helps form the flavorful crust that I think is one of the hallmarks of a great burger. Use a silicone brush to coat the burger lightly on both sides with extra virgin olive oil, and then season it with salt. For the best results, try using smoked salt.

Grill the burgers directly over a medium-hot fire (about 450°F), turning only once, until it is cooked to the desired doneness. When cooking for larger parties, it can be a good idea to cook an extra, sacrificial burger. Break into this burger a couple of minutes before you expect the burgers to be cooked to medium to check your timing.

The ground round and the nice crust, aided by the olive oil, will deliver perfect texture and flavor. And, thanks to Bobby Flay, your burgers will be flat and easier to eat.

Grilling Tip: Grilled Onions

For sweet and delicious grilled onions, start with a Vidalia. Slice it thick, about 3/4 of an inch. Next, stick two toothpicks into two opposite sides. This will help keep the rings flat and intact for grilling. Brush both sides with olive oil and then lightly salt the slices before placing them on the grill. Cook over direct and/or indirect heat until nicely browned and translucent. Enjoy in tacos, burgers or any other kind of sandwich.

Try this recipe with sides of Grill-Roasted French Fries with Avocado Aioli