Buy the beef: For super juicy, tender burgers, pick 80 percent lean chuck and ask for it “twice ground.”
Shape the patties: Form loose 1/4-pound balls. Flatten until 1/2-to 3/4-inch thick. Don’t pack tightly, or the burgers will be tough. Make an indentation in the patty’s center to compensate for the burger’s tendency to bulge as it cooks.
Prep the grill: Crank the heat to high. (For a charcoal grill, skip lighter fluid. Heat coals in a chimney starter until they’re lightly coated with ash.) Hold your hand just over the grill; if you can keep it there only a few seconds, it’s go time.
Cook the burgers: Salt the patties liberally, and then grill them until droplets of blood appear on the raw side, about 3 minutes. Now flip. For medium rare, cook this side about 2 more minutes (or 3 more minutes for medium). Resist the urge to press on the burgers to make them sizzle. Doing that smooshes out a lot of the tasty juices.
1. Bun: For a crisp but tender bun, butter the cut sides and toast it in a pan until golden.
2. Tomato: The flavorful variety sold on the vine is just the right size.
3. Cheese: Use American, not Cheddar; the saltiness enhances the meat.
4. Pickles: Use to add an acidic bite.
5. Onion: Top the cheese with thinly sliced red onion so it wilts in the burger’s heat.
6. Lettuce: Crisp curly-leaf lettuce on the bottom bun prevents soggy bread.