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2:45 PM Tue, Sept. 18th

Grill up gourmet burgers at your next barbecue

Almost everyone loves a good, juicy burger. Here are a few twists to try for the adventurous eater as you enjoy this essential part of summer eating.

THE PERFECT BURGER

Makes four 6-oz. burgers

1 1/2 pounds freshly ground chuck

1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

The juiciest burger is usually from a fat content of at least 18 percent. Leaner meat can be a drier burger, but healthier if you are watching fat and calories.

BURGER TIPS: Mix seasonings very gently. Handling the meat toughens it so mix as little as possible and with a gentle hand. Using wet hands to form patties allows the meat to come together faster and prevents over handling. Be sure to make patties thinner in the middle as the edges tend to plump up and as they cook they even out. Never press the center and push out all those good juices. If you can let meat rest a few minutes before serving. The safe temperature for killing bacteria is 160. Always keep your grill clean and a little oil keeps meat from sticking.

Be adventurous and try different buns such as whole grain and ciabatta. Also for less fat use ground turkey, bison (cook just 1-2 minutes less to avoid drying with the reduced fat content) and portabello mushrooms. Sliders are popular and allow two per person.

Here are some variations to try:

SAN FRANCISCO GOLDEN GATE BURGER

1 lb. lean ground beef

1/2 cup each

crumbled feta cheese and oil-packed

sundried tomatoes, chopped

Dash garlic salt

Mix meat, cheese, tomatoes and garlic salt; form into 4 patties. Grill. Serve in buns with arugula, ketchup and onions.

BLT BURGER

(The best of both worlds)

Cook 4 strips bacon, first cut in half, and set aside (for 4 burgers)

Cook hamburger as usual. When ready to serve top each toasted bun with lettuce or spinach leaves, tomato, patties, then 2 pieces bacon each plus mayonnaise and other desired condiments.

BARBECUE BURGER

Top cooked meat with tangy barbecue sauce and a hot pepper.

BLUE MOON BURGER

Top grilled burger with blue cheese, sauteed mushrooms, lettuce and tomato on an onion bun.

ONION BURGER

Add onion soup mix to burgers before cooking and top with grilled onions.

PIZZA BURGER

Cover cooked burger with pepperoni, Mozzarella cheese and pizza sauce.

CHICAGO BURGER

Top cooked pattie with relish, chopped onion, ketchup, mustard and hot peppers.

COWBOY BURGER

Top cooked meat with grilled mushrooms, grilled onion, bacon and top with Monterey Jack cheese.

TERIYAKI PINEAPPLE BURGERS WITH SWISS

Add 1/4 cup teriyaki marinade to meat when forming burgers along with 2 tbsp. finely minced onion.

Grill burgers and add cheese slices just before removing from grill to melt cheese. Grill pineapple slices and turn with tongs when char marks appear. Serve by placing meat on bottom of bun, top with pineapple or any other ingredients you desire.

PINWHEEL BURGER

(For those with a creative touch)

Cut different colored, quartered cheese slices arranged in pinwheel design melted on top of meat.

KITCHEN SINK BURGER

Top grilled meat with ham, bacon, fried egg, coleslaw, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, mayonnaise, or whatever else you can find in your fridge that sounds good to you!

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Always remember to use a clean plate for cooked meat separate from that used before cooking.

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Add some freshly made potatoes, green salad or your favorite chips and enjoy!