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There is nothing like a perfectly prepared burger, preferably medium-rare on a toasted whole-wheat bun, but with no mayo. Instead, stout and stone ground mustard, a thick layer of crisp dill pickles, lightly caramelized red onions still warm from the pan, fresh tomatoes sprinkled with sea salt, a few leaves of butter lettuce and more ketchup than I would like to admit.

This is precisely the problem. I love the hand-packed, well-seasoned and grass-fed beef burger that I make at home; a far cry from the conventionally sold stacks of horrifyingly thin and colorless rounds separated by white waxy papers. Call me a burger snob all you want but, in my defense, I take comfort in knowing that the meat I put in my body is 100% meat, from a good source and not pumped full of additives, antibiotics, preservatives and artificial flavoring.  Not to mention the perfect personalization of toppings, in just the right amount and order that creates the perfect bite all the way through.

You don’t have to buy a whole cow to have easy access to grass-fed beef (see my previous post on the health and environmental benefits of grass-fed beef). Heritage Meats in Rochester, WA is an artisan butchering company that specializes in organic, locally grown and sustainable meats and supplies a great assortment of grass-fed beef products for Full Circle’s Green Grocery program. For your first spring BBQ or family burger night, add some healthy protein to your farm box and forge your own better tasting burgers. All the meat products supplied to Full Circle from Heritage Meats are pasture-raised and grass-fed in Washington, and better for you and the environment than mass-produced, grain-fed beef products.

This weekend, at what I called “the great burger-off”, my thankfully patient friends were presented with a buffet line of toppings and slightly enormous grass-fed beef patties (seared quickly and broiled with a thin layer of sharp cheddar).  Before anyone could get a bite I snapped photos and made note of topping combos and quirky burger making practices. Here are a few of the combinations that made us smile and a secret patty packing recipe that makes the most tender and tasty burgers, as far as I am concerned, on the entire planet.

My Backyard’s Best Burger Patty

(Makes appx. 6 big patties)
2 lbs ground grass-fed beef
½ large yellow onion, finely diced
1 fresh jalapeno, seeded and finely diced
3 cloves fresh garlic, smashed through a garlic press or finely diced
1 Tbsp salt
2 tsp pepper
2 Tbsp Worcester sauce
3 Tbsp ketchup
2 tsp Chaloula (or your favorite hot sauce)
1/3 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
12 slices of sharp cheddar (or your choice of cheese to melt on top)
Mix all ingredients by hand in a large mixing bowl, making sure to incorporate well.

Form 6 equal palm sized rounds of the mixture (making more or less depending on the size of patty you want).  Pat the rounds out by hand and sear for 3 minutes per side on a hot grill (or until your desired doneness).  Before removing from the grill melt your cheese of choice on top.  Serve immediately with an array of the following:

Killer Topping Combos:

  • Grilled sweet or red onions, blue cheese, avocado, butter lettuce, spicy aoli
  • Sautéed Cremini mushrooms, feta cheese, grilled peppers, red leaf lettuce, basil aoli
  • Fresh sliced tomatoes sprinkled with sea salt, fresh picked basil leaves, avocado, roasted red pepper caponata, butter lettuce
  • Slightly melted brie, thin slices of fresh granny smith apple
  • Fresh pesto, spinach, fresh mozzarella cheese, tomato slices
  • Swiss chesses, sautéed mushrooms, sauerkraut and spicy whole grain mustard
  • Pickled red peppers, butter lettuce, fresh mango chutney
  • Grilled zucchini, balsamic roasted onions and blue cheese

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