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Five Burger-Building Secrets to Thrill Grilling Fans

(ARA) - You may switch things up with salmon or add variety with veggies, but when it comes right down to it, the burger is still king of summer grilling.

"Americans' love affair with a great burger is enduring and passionate," says Dave Woolley, executive chef of Red Robin Gourmet Burgers, a national restaurant chain that specializes in gourmet burgers. "For summer entertaining, the burger is versatile, interesting, flavorful and reliable. It's hard to top its appeal."

Cuisine, culture and creativity continue to drive the popularity of the burger. In honor of National Hamburger Month this May - and Memorial Day, the unofficial kick off of grilling season - Woolley and his team of burger connoisseurs offer their top five grilling tips for creating gourmet burgers at home:

1. Start with high-quality ingredients
A burger is only as good as the beef you start with; buy higher-grade USDA beef. Select only the freshest produce from your local market for toppings. Consider sautéing and caramelizing some of the toppings, such as onions, mushrooms and even chilies. This can add a distinct nutty sweetness to burgers. Finally, use artisan breads or specialty buns to add another dimension to the burger's flavor profile. An herb-encrusted bun adds an ethnic flare, and a jalapeno cornmeal Kaiser roll can round out the flavor of a spicy burger.

2. Add ethnic flavor
Adding ingredients you might not typically use on a burger can create a whole new flavor experience. Consider Italian favorites like Marsala sauce, pesto or caprese. Or try seasonings like Jamaican jerk spice to make the flavor pop.

3. Create flavor harmony
Incorporate ingredients that are harmonious and work in unison. You can get creative and mix sweet and salty tastes like bacon and tomato or sweet and spicy like pineapple and spicy jerk sauce. Balancing flavors is the key.

4. Lighten up
Altering your toppings can help you achieve a lighter gourmet burger without compromising on taste. Replace mayonnaise with mustard or salsa, which are both flavorful but lower in calories. Use olive oil instead of vegetable oil to sauté or caramelize toppings. Even bacon can be lightened up if you cook it until it's crispy to remove as much fat as possible. You can even wrap your burger in lettuce instead of a bun for another lighter dimension of freshness, flavor and crispiness.

5. Adding gourmet flair is easy
"Red Robin is known for combining a variety of harmonizing flavors to create really unique gourmet burgers," says Woolley. "You can make a spicy gourmet burger at home by enhancing store-bought items with fresh ingredients." For example, you can dress up store-bought salsa by adding your own finely chopped tomatoes, red onion, cilantro, serrano peppers and jalapenos. Turn common mayo into chipotle mayonnaise by pureeing chipotle peppers and mixing them in. Add a dash of cayenne pepper to your favorite grill seasoning. Top a burger with pepper jack cheese and some jalapenos and your guests' taste buds will be grateful.

Try this recipe to make your own version of Red Robin's Burnin' Love gourmet burger at home:

Ingredients:

1 jalapeno kaiser cornmeal roll
1/3 lb. ground beef, 80 percent lean or above, made into a patty
Cayenne seasoning
Salt and pepper to taste
Chipotle mayonnaise
Iceberg lettuce, shredded
2 slices pepper- jack cheese
1 vine ripened tomato, sliced
Salsa
Jalapeno rings, fresh or battered and fried

Directions:

For the chipotle mayonnaise - Mix high-quality mayonnaise with pureed chipotle peppers, salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate for about an hour to enhance the flavor prior to using.

For the salsa - Enhance your favorite store-bought salsa with fresh finely chopped tomatoes, red onion, cilantro, Serrano peppers and jalapenos. Or make your homemade salsa from scratch using all fresh ingredients.

For the burger - Season the hamburger patty with cayenne, salt and pepper to taste prior to grilling. Oil the grill grates and preheat the grill before putting the burger on it. Grill the patty to a minimum internal temperature of 160 degrees for a minimum of 15 seconds to maximize flavor and juiciness. Remove burger from grill and top with pepper-jack cheese. Grill for an additional two minutes to melt the cheese. Toast the bun on the grill to a golden brown. Spread chipotle mayonnaise on both sides of the toasted bun. Place the burger on the bun and top with sliced tomato, salsa, jalapenos and shredded lettuce. Cover with the bun top and enjoy.

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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