Ch. 9 - Burgers, Sausages, Hot Dogs

Chapter 9 - Burgers, Sausages and Hot Dogs

Grilling Good Eats

By Mike Thayer

Hot Dogs
Dawgs....

Without question, burgers and hot dogs (that’s spelled, D.A.W.G.S) are the most popular meats to be placed on a grill. In my book, burgers and dawgs are the ultimate summer time comfort foods. Bratwurst and sausages done right on the grill hit the spot as well.

TIP: When making your own burgers, use a ground beef with a higher fat content, like 80/20. The leaner grinds don’t measure up when it comes to juiciness and flavor and are better suited for foods other than burgers. Use the leaner grinds for skillet dishes and casseroles, too lean is too dry for a good burger. 

Remember Grilling Tip #1 from Chapter 2: Ground meats should be cold when putting on the grill. If patties are at room temperature, they tend to fall apart or droop through the cooking grate. As I make patties, I like to stack them with plastic wrap between each patty and put them in the freezer for about an hour before grilling.  And also Grilling Tip #6: When grilling those pre-made frozen hamburger patties, the packaged ‘fresh’ ones from the grocery store and for folks that like their hand made burgers well done, you should only flip your burger once. Assuming you stacked your coals right, after putting your burgers on, when you see red juices flowing to the top, it’s time to flip. After the flip, when you see the juices running clear, you know the burger is well done, the burger is cooked through.

Recipes

 

The Idaho burger
This recipe was ‘developed’ by my three young sons on a summer vacation trip to Idaho. It’s pretty much a classic bacon cheeseburger and BBQ sauce with a spin of mine (adding pork sausage), but my boys really thought they had come up with something new. I wasn’t about to spoil their creativity in their grilling moment of discovery.  

Ingredients: (TIP:  Using two meats in a burger makes for another layer of flavor)

  • One pound ground beef
  • One pound pork sausage
  • One Tablespoon Cookies Flavor Enhancer or if you want to keep it simple, salt and pepper
  • 16 slices of pre-cooked bacon
  • American cheese slices
  • Your favorite BBQ sauce
  • ½ stick of butter
  • Garlic powder to taste
  • Hamburger buns

Directions:
In a large bowl, season the ground beef with the Cookies Flavor Enhancer or the salt & pepper and hand mix until the seasoning is incorporated. Add the pork sausage, hand mix again until incorporated into the beef. Form into 8 patties. When your grill is ready to receive, place the patties over the hot spot to get those great grill marks and a good sear. Keep the lid off and watch for any flare ups. When you see red juices flowing to the top of the patties, flip those burgers over to the lower heat side of the grill and get ready to put the lid on. Before ‘lidding‘, place the butter and garlic in a grill safe dish to melt down on the low heat side of the grill next to those great smelling burgers. Check after about five minutes. The garlic butter should be melted and the burgers should be about ready. For well done burgers, wait to see the juices run clear. Apply the cheese, top with two slices of pre-cooked bacon and put the lid on for another minute or until the cheese is melted to your liking. Pull the burgers and let them rest. Apply the melted garlic butter to the hamburger buns and toast. Serve with your favorite BBQ sauce. You can either pour it on the burger straight from the bottle, or warm some up in a grill safe dish and spoon some of that mouth-watering deliciousness onto the top bun.

Tip: If you don’t like forming patties by hand, a quick way to get those made is by using a round Tupperware/plastic container type lid and plastic wrap. Invert the lid, line with plastic wrap, then press the ground beef into the lined lid to form a perfectly round patty.

Download Mike's Idaho Burger Recipe

 

The Juicy Lucy
This burger was made famous in Minnesota, instead of a burger with a slice of cheese on top, it's a burger with ooey-gooey cheese melted in the middle core of the burger. 

Ingredients:

  • One pound ground beef
  • One pound pork sausage (where my burger is different, another layer of flavor)
  • One Tablespoon Cookies Flavor Enhancer or if you want to keep it simple, salt and pepper
  • American cheese slices
  • ½ stick of butter
  • Garlic powder to taste
  • Hamburger buns

Directions:

Juicy Lucy BurgersIn a large bowl, season the ground beef with the Cookies Flavor Enhancer or the salt & pepper and hand mix until the seasoning is incorporated. Add the pork sausage, hand mix again until incorporated into the beef. Form into thin patties, larger than the cheese slices.  Lay a formed patty on some plastic wrap, top with two slices of cheese, then top with another patty and pinch the sides to seal.  When your grill is ready to receive, place the patties over the hot spot to get those great grill marks and a good sear. Keep the lid off and watch for any flare ups.  Because that cheese is in the core of the burger, it's going to be tougher to know when to flip the burger.  Carefully check the underside of a burger and if you've got some great grill marks, go ahead and flip the burgers over to the lower heat side of the grill and get ready to put the lid on.  These burgers take a longer period of indirect cooking time to ensure they are done on the inside.  Before ‘lidding‘, place the butter and garlic in a grill safe dish to melt down on the low heat side of the grill next to those great smelling burgers. Check after about ten minutes. Pull the burgers and let them rest. Apply the melted garlic butter to the hamburger buns and toast. Serve with your favorite burger toppings.  The great thing about these burgers is playing with a variety of cheeses.  Melted cheddar, swiss and or provolone are great too!  Do combinations or specialty cheeses like pepperjack.  Your choices are almost unlimited!

Download Mike's Juicy Lucy Burger Recipe

 

Mike's 'Gump' Burgers
Stuffed burgers can be really fun.  I like to do them because you can really create some great, mouth-watering flavors inside the burger!  That first ooey-gooey loaded bite is fantastic!  You can go classic with things like cheddar and bacon stuffed in a burger, or mushroom and Swiss cheese stuffing. Go Mediterranean with Feta cheese and black olive, or go bar food style with a stuffing of jalapeno pepper and cream cheese.  Get inventive and stuff a burger with Mac & Cheese.  Here's a personal favorite, a pizza burger - stuffed with yes you guessed it, pizza sauce, pepperoni and mozzarella cheese.  And here's where the fun comes in.....  Do a variety of stuffings, your dinner guests can create their own stuffed burger, or have even more fun with it....   Turn your stuffed burgers into a box of chocolates so to speak.  As Forest Gump would say, "....like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get."  Suggestion:  Try Gump burgers for dinner one night with your family and/or friends.  Make a batch of stuffed burgers with a variety of stuffing choices, but once they're formed into patties, who knows what's inside? You might all have to agree on all those stuffing ingredients of course, but it could be fun! Mix it up!  TIP:  Saute your veggies and/or pre-cook things like bacon and let them cool before stuffing them in the burgers.

Ingredients:

  • Two pounds ground beef
  • One Tablespoon Cookies Flavor Enhancer or if you want to keep it simple, salt and pepper
  • A variety of cheeses, vegetables, bacon bits, whatever, for stuffing
  • ½ stick of butter
  • Garlic powder to taste
  • Hamburger buns

Directions:

In a large bowl, season the ground beef with the Cookies Flavor Enhancer or the salt & pepper and hand mix until the seasoning is incorporated. Form into thin patties, larger than the cheese slices.  Lay a formed patty on some plastic wrap, top with cheese, pre-cooked veggies, etc., then top with another patty and pinch the sides to seal.  When your grill is ready to receive, place the patties over the hot spot to get those great grill marks and a good sear. Keep the lid off and watch for any flare ups.  Because this is a stuffed burger, it's going to be tougher to know when to flip the burger.  Carefully check the underside of a burger and if you've got some great grill marks, go ahead and flip the burgers over to the lower heat side of the grill and get ready to put the lid on.  These burgers take a longer period of indirect cooking time to ensure they are done on the inside.  Before ‘lidding‘, place the butter and garlic in a grill safe dish to melt down on the low heat side of the grill next to those great smelling burgers. Check after about ten minutes. Pull the burgers and let them rest. Apply the melted garlic butter to the hamburger buns and toast.  You can serve with your favorite burger toppings if you want to, but the great thing about a stuffed burger....  No toppings required!  

Download Mike's 'Gump' Burgers Recipe

 

Gyro Sliders
20161007_181452This is an excellent change of pace kind of burger in slider form, especially great if you're in the mood for something Mediterranean!  The burger mix in this recipe is a 50/50 mix of ground lamb and ground beef, which if you didn't know, is the same ratio of "Americanized" gyro meat you typically find at many Greek restaurants across the country believe it or not.  They've learned that most Americans prefer the mix, over straight lamb.

Ingredients:

  • One pound ground lamb
  • One pound ground beef
  • One Tablespoon salt
  • One teaspoon black pepper
  • Slider buns (toasted)
  • Two to three tabs of butter
  • One teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup Feta cheese, crumbled
  • Lettuce for toppings
  • Tomato, thinly sliced
  • Tzatziki sauce (Ingredients and directions below)

Directions:

In a large bowl, mix the ground lamb, ground beef, salt and pepper.  I like to keep the seasoning simple here, I want to taste that lamb, I don't want to overpower it with any other seasonings.  After the meats, salt and pepper are thoroughly incorporated, form into slider sized patties.  Place patties on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.  Fire up the grill.  While the patties are chilling and the grill is warming up, make the Tzatziki sauce.   Grill Time:  These are sliders, not burgers, they will cook a bit quicker so don't walk away once you place them on the grill over direct heat.  Lamb has a higher fat content than beef, so you will get some flame ups.  If you do get those flame ups, simply move the patties over to a not so hot spot on the grill.  The one flip only rule applies here, wait until you see some red juices come to the top of the patty before flipping to the cooler side of the grill to finish cooking.  After you flip, when you see the juices run clear, you know the burger is well done.  When the burgers are over indirect side of the grill to finish cooking, it's time to toast those slider buns.  Put the butter and garlic in a grill safe bowl and let it melt over indirect heat.  Once that butter is melted, brush the buns with the garlic butter, then place the buns over direct heat to toast.  This is only going to take 30 seconds to a minute to get those great grill marks and that melted marriage of garlic butter toasted bun flavor.  Pull the buns, the sliders, dress the buns with the Tzatziki sauce, top the burgers with the crumbled Feta, lettuce, tomato and there you have it, another dose of YUM!  Gyro Sliders.

Tzatziki Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 an English cucumber, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • One Tablespoon dried dill
  • One Tablespoon lemon juice (citric acid is a nice alternative)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, mix until thoroughly incorporated, cover and chill for about 30 minutes or until ready to use. 

 

Bratwurst with Beer
Brats make great tailgate food.  There's just something about the combination of brats, beer and FOOTBALL!  But brats can be tough to master if you're new to grilling or haven't grilled this particular grilled eats before.  They aren't as easy as hot dogs.  Unlike hot dogs, which come pre-cooked, brats are raw sausages.  If you just throw them directly on the grill, they can look like they're done on the outside, but they're still raw on the inside.  And nobody wants to eat raw pork.  That's why putting brats in a bath ensures not only doneness, but additional flavor as well!

Ingredients:

  • Six brats
  • One can of regular beer - don't use a light beer, you need full flavor here
  • Half a medium onion, rough chopped

Directions:

Place all ingredients in a cast iron skillet and let those brats simmer over indirect low heat for about 20 minutes, turning at the 10 minute mark.  You want your 'bath' to be at a very slow rolling boil.  Add a bit of water (or more beer) if necessary to keep at least half the brat covered in liquid. Finish by taking the brats out of the bath and grilling them over direct heat to get some color on all sides, or to the desired doneness.  Brush with garlic butter and serve.  Excellent served on a garlic toasted bun!

Sweet Wine Brats

 

Bratwurst with Wine
This is a little spin on the traditional brats done in beer. I actually prefer this over tradition.

Ingredients:

  • Six brats
  • 1-1/2 cups of sweet chardonnay wine, sweet is the key, a red Moscato works too
  • Half a medium onion, rough chopped

Directions:
Place all ingredients in a cast iron skillet and let those brats simmer over indirect low heat for about 20 minutes, turning at the 10 minute mark. You want your 'bath' to be at a very slow rolling boil.  Add a bit of water (or more wine) if necessary to keep at least half the brat covered in liquid. Finish by taking the brats out of the bath and grilling them over direct heat to get some color on all sides, or to the desired doneness.  Brush with garlic butter and serve.

 

Hot Dawgs in a Bacon Blanket
Everything is better with bacon!

Ingredients:

  • One package of your favorite brand of bun length all beef hot dogs (the chicken and pork varieties just don't cut it)
  • One package of your favorite brand of bacon
  • One Tablespoon Cookies Flavor Enhancer or your favorite rub
  • Toothpicks soaked in water, to secure the bacon

Directions:

Lay all your hot dogs out on a plate and sprinkle them with the Cookies Flavor Enhancer or your favorite rub.  Wrap a slice of bacon around each hot dog, securing the bacon with toothpicks.  When the grill is ready to receive, place your dawgs over direct heat.  DO NOT WALK AWAY!  The bacon grease is going to cause some flare ups, you're going to be busy turning the dawgs to ensure they don't burn.  All we're really looking for here is to crisp up the bacon and to warm the hot dogs through and just a little char on the edges.  Pull them off when all sides of the bacon are done to the desired level of crispness.  Excellent served on a garlic butter toasted bun and topped with cheddar cheese.    OPTIONAL PREPARATION:  I like to do these with Parmesan cheese and Louisiana Hot Sauce.  Instead of using the rub, sprinkle with Parmesan and some dashes of hot sauce, then wrap the dawgs in the bacon.  Talk about another does of YUM!  Parmesan cheese and hot sauce is a GREAT combination!

 

Mike's HamDawgsMike's HamDawgs
Stuffed hot dawgs

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup finely chopped cooked ham or luncheon meat
  • 2 Tablespoons finely chopped onion
  • 2 Tablespoons sweet pickle relish
  • 2 Tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • a pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 package of all beef hot dogs
  • 8 to 10 slices of bacon
  • Your favorite BBQ sauce
  • Louisiana Hot Sauce (optional)

Directions:

Mix the first six or seven ingredients.  Slit the hot dogs, cutting them almost end-to-end and about ¾ the way through.  Stuff with the ham mixture.  Wrap the stuffed hot dogs with bacon and secure with tooth picks on each end.  Grill over hot coals, giving them ¼ turns and brushing them with BBQ sauce (and optional BBQ/Louisiana Hot Sauce blend) until the bacon is crisp.  Serve in toasted garlic buttered hot dog buns.

 

Beef Sausage (Kielbasa) on a bun
This is like a big hot dog with a little more flavor. I like to grill these delicious ring style treats in a traditional bratwurst style, with beer! Beef sausage and beer is a great pairing. What kind of beer you use is up to you, use what you typically drink, unless we’re talking light beer. Light beers just aren’t heavy or flavorful enough for grilling.

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds of Kielbasa beef sausage
  • One can of your favorite beer
  • Medium onion, sliced into rings
  • Hot dog buns

Directions:

Slice the Kielbasa into hot dog sized portions (you’ll get three per ring). Simmer the sausages and onion over indirect low heat in a cast iron skillet beer bath for about 20 minutes. Finish by taking the sausages and onions out of the bath and grilling them over direct heat to get some color on all sides, or to the desired doneness. Serve on a fresh bun topped with the onion. A brown mustard is great with this and another great add are slices of grilled green bell pepper.

 

Kielbasa Kabobs
If you are a fan of the classic stove top dish of Kielbasa with peppers and onions, you'll love this grilled rendition! 

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds of Kielbasa beef sausage
  • Two green bell peppers, chunked into bite size pieces
  • One large onion, chunked
  • One Tablespoon olive oil
  • One Tablespoon Cookies Flavor Enhancer or your favorite rub

Directions:

Soak some wood skewers in water.  While those are soaking, slice the Kielbasa into bit size pieces, set aside.  In a medium size bowl, put in the green bell pepper and onion, pour in the olive oil and rub, give everything a toss to ensure even coverage.  If your skewers have soaked for at least 30 minutes, load up the Kielbasa, but don't put the pieces too close together, we want to ensure even cooking on all sides.  On separate skewers, load up the veggies and again, same thing, don't pack the pieces too close to each other, we want even cooking on all sides.  I like to do separate skewers for meat and veggies because they won't get done at the same time if on the same stick.  The kabobs you see at the grocery store with everything on a stick sure look pretty, but that's marketing to get you to buy them.  Fact is, meat and veggies cook better, separately - you can put them all together on your plate.  When the grill is ready to receive, put the Kielbasa on first, over medium heat.  After a couple minutes, give the Kielbasa Kabobs a quarter turn.  Two more minutes, another quarter turn and so on, until fully rotated or you get a char to your liking, then move to the cooler side of the grill.  After that second quarter turn, put the veggie skewers on the grill, over direct heat.  These may cause a flare up because of the olive oil, so don't walk away.  Like for the Kielbasa, you're going to be giving these skewers quarter turns, but only after a minute or so, we want 'tender crisp' vegetables.   After fully rotated and you've got a char to your liking, plate all skewers and serve.  These are excellent paired with grilled rice.

 

Simple Pleasure Sausage Sandwich

Sausage isn't just for the skillet and the stove top, nor is it just for breakfast.  I love these things for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!  It's simple, you're grilling up sausage patties, burger style.

Ingredients:

  • Two pounds of your favorite pork sausage, like Jimmy Dean or Bob Evans
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • American cheese slices
  • 1/2 stick butter
  • Garlic powder to taste
  • Hamburger buns

Directions:

Form the pork sausage into eight patties - burger size - salt and pepper both sides.  When the grill is ready to receive, place the patties over direct heat to get that good sear and those great grill marks, lid off.  Flip after about 2 to 3 minutes, moving the patties over to the lower heat side of the grill, lid on.  Before ‘lidding‘, place the butter and garlic in a grill safe dish to melt down on the low heat side of the grill next to those great smelling sausage 'burgers.' Check after about five minutes.  Top the patties with cheese for melting.  After the cheese is melted to perfection, pull the sausage 'burgers' and let them rest.   While the patties are resting, apply the melted garlic butter to the hamburger buns and toast.  Serving options:  These are great for breakfast, served with a fried egg on top before 'bunning.'  A grilled sausage, egg & cheese sandwich on a garlic butter toasted bun is WAY better than anything you'll get at McDonald's.  For lunch, I like these 'bunned' up with grilled onion and yellow mustard.  For dinner, classic burger toppings, simply delicious.  I'll bet you never thought of eating pork sausage, burger style, did you?

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