I was raised by a man for whom a perfectly grilled burger was, and still is, almost next to holiness. He follows a strict 80-percent-meat-to-20-percent-fat rule. To serve him a low-fat burger is practically a cardinal sin.

During my teenage years, my dad set out to discover who was making the best burger in the Portland area. To authenticate his findings, he founded AMHEATS, or American Hamburger Evaluation and Testing Society. My siblings and I were founding members as were his buddies from the natural gas company where he worked. Decades later, my dad and his pals still hold an annual AMHEATS “convention” where they grill up their own version of perfection.

For me to create a hamburger recipe that strays from classic preparation is no small undertaking. Perhaps the most important tip for creating a juicy burger (besides the 80/20 rule) is not to handle the beef too much. Like pie crust, you want to mix your ingredients just until combined, gently pat the meat into patties, and then leave it alone. Don’t get crazy and take out pent-up aggression on the patties. You want to leave air pockets that will fill with juice as the burgers cook.

Photo by Carrie Minns
Photo by Carrie Minns

2 large heads of garlic
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 pounds grass-fed ground beef, freshly ground
1/4 cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese, plus extra on the side
fresh rosemary leaves, minced
Salt and freshl y ground black pepper
6 fresh, ciabatta buns Sp ring greens
Mayonnaise
Dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 400F. Slice off the top of the heads of the garlic to expose some of the cloves inside. Place each head on a piece of foil. Drizzle with olive oil. Enclose each head in the foil. Place in middle of oven and roast for about 40 minutes, or until browned and buttery soft. Start checking at 30 minutes for tenderness. Pull from oven and let cool a bit. Once cooled, squeeze the softened cloves out from their skins and into a little dish. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix together the ground beef with the gorgonzola and rosemary until just combined. Break your meat into 6 equal pieces and then gently form into patties about three quarters of an inch thick. Generously season both sides of each patty with salt and pepper.

Grill the burgers over direct medium heat for about 4 to 5 minutes per side. Flip once and without patting. If cooking inside, a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat works well. When done cooking, pull those burgers off the heat and let rest for a few minutes.

To assemble, spread a generous layer of roasted garlic on one bun. Top with a burger and a handful of spring greens. Spread mayonnaise and Dijon on the other bun. Put it all together and you are good to go. Serve extra gorgonzola crumbles on the side for more zing.

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