Butter Burgers

from Steven Raichlen

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Method: Direct Grilling
Advance Preparation: 1 to 2 hours for chilling herb butter
Category: Meat

Note: In this recipe, you fold a disk of garlic herb butter into the center of the burger. As the burger grills, the butter melts, keeping the meat moist and lusciouseven when cooked through.
For the hamburgers:

1-1/2 pounds ground sirloin, round, or chuck (15 to 20 per cent fat)
4 tablespoons Garlic-Herb Butter (recipe follows), cut into four 1/2-inch thick slices
Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper
4 hamburger buns or Kaiser rolls
2 tablespoons melted butter
For the toppings (any or all of the following):

Bibb or red leaf lettuce leaves
Thin slices of raw or grilled sweet onions
Sliced ripe red tomato
Mustard, ketchup, mayonnaise, relish, or whatever other condiments you like

Wet your hands with cold water and divide the ground beef into 4 portions. Using a light touch, pat each portion into a thick patty formed around a slice of herb butter. Season with salt and pepper and refrigerate the burgers, covered, on a plate lined with plastic wrap while you preheat the grill.

Set up the grill for direct grilling and preheat to high. When ready to cook, brush and oil the grill grate.

Place the burgers on the hot grate and season again with salt and pepper.

Place the burgers on the hot grill, and cook for about 5 minutes per side, or until cooked through. (An instant-read meat thermometer inserted through the side of the burgerparallel to the grill grateshould read at least 160 degrees F.) Remove the burgers from the grill and cover to keep warm. Leave the grill on.

Brush the cut sides of the hamburger buns with the melted butter, if using. Place the buns on the hot grill, cut side down, and grill until toasted, 30 seconds to 2 minutes. Watch carefully. You may need to work in batches.

Assemble the burgers: On the bottom half of each bun, place a lettuce leaf followed by a slice of onion and tomato. Top with the burger, the condiments of your choice, and the top half of the bun.

Garlic-Herb Butter

Serves: Makes about 1/2 cup
Category: Sauces
3 tablespoons finely chopped mixed fresh herbs, including parsley, chives, basil, oregano, and/or tarragon leaves
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
8 tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter, at room temperature

Place the herbs, garlic, pepper, and butter in a small mixing bowl and beat with a wooden spoon until light and fluffy. Alternatively, you can do the beating in a mixer or food processor.
Lay a 12-inch square piece of plastic wrap or parchment paper on your work surface and mound the flavored butter in the center. Roll it up into a cylinder, twisting the ends to compact the butter. Chill in the refrigerator or freezer until firm. The butter will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator, or up to 3 months in the freezer. To use, unwrap the roll and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices. (Leftovers are great on steakadd a pat just before servingbread, eggs, or potatoes.)