The Perfect Basic Burger Recipe

To me, the Fourth of July — and the days that surround it — are an eating and drinking free-for-all. There’s no better time to break out the beer and the burgers and fire up the charcoal grill. (I guess now that fireworks are legal in Rhode Island, you could break those out, too). In that spirit, I looked up this no-fail recipe from Bacaro’s Brian Kingsford for summer’s all-American staple (slathered in homemade ketchup, of course):


Brian’s Basic Burger

3 pounds 80 percent lean ground chuck

hamburger buns (brioche are fine but soft, store-bought is often best)

kosher salt

fresh, cracked black pepper


• Prepare a medium-hot, wood-charcoal fire. If you hold your hand about 4 inches above the coals, you should be able to stand the heat for about 4 seconds.

• Form meat into 6- to 8-ounce patties (about 1 inch thick and 4 1/2 inches in diameter). Do not overpack burgers. To avoid hamburgers puffing up during cooking, make a small dimple in the middle of each patty, about 1 inch in diameter and 1/4-inch deep. Season on both sides with salt and pepper.

• Place burgers onto grill and cook, without disturbing, for 4 to 5 minutes. Flip burgers and continue cooking, 4 to 5 minutes for medium-rare. Do not press down on burgers as this only dries them out. Serve with your favorite accompaniments. Makes 6 to 8 burgers.


Spicy Ketchup

6 cups chopped canned tomatoes in heavy puree

1/2 cup sugar

3/4 cup chopped onion

1 red bell pepper, halved, seeded and chopped

1 tablespoon minced, fresh garlic

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground mustard

3/4 teaspoon cayenne


• Puree the tomatoes in a blender until smooth. Strain puree through a medium-mesh sieve, pressing with a rubber spatula to get out all of the juices. Discard any solids. Set aside.

• In a nonreactive saucepan, caramelize the sugar over medium-high heat. Add the onions and peppers and cook until softened. Add the tomato puree and all remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally at the beginning and more often towards the end of the cooking time, about 1 hour or until thickened. Season with salt and cook for 25 to 30 minutes more, until the consistency of ketchup.

• Adjust seasoning with salt and cayenne if needed. Set aside to cool. Store in nonreactive airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Makes about 3 1/2 cups.