Smoked hamburgers

Two-sided charcoal and propane bbq, wet with rain

The Chill Grill by ArchelaMuriel on Flickr, CC-BY-2.0.

Last year Rona had a BBQ for sale that was half charcoal grill, half propane. The grill can get up to 1000 degrees, but the charcoal side when the air is choked can maintain 300 degrees for hours. Last year we didn’t do much cooking outside, but this year I hope to make up for it.

When my dad came down last weekend for my birthday and we went to one of my favourite local restaurants, The Smokehouse. The waitress there talked about smoking a burger for customers, so I wanted to try it. I made large patties 8 ounces pre-cooked. I made up four patties to make the effort worth it.

I don’t do much to my burgers; just shape them roughly like a red blood cell and salt and pepper them. They stayed out at room temperature while the chimney of hardwood charcoal caught and the wood chips soaked. Everything was ready to go in 15 minutes.

You put the charcoal on one side and the burgers on the other and the smoke box full of wet chips on the coals. I closed the chimney and the air intake, which kept the grill at 300 degrees like an oven. The smoke box lasted for about 45 minutes so I threw on a handful of chips and a couple more lumps of charcoal at the 1/2 way point.

When the smoke box stopped producing smoke, I let it cook the rest of the way, having been smoked for more than an hour at that point. It took about 2 hours to get the internal temp up to 155 and it coasted the rest of the way. I like my steaks blue rare and my burgers cooked all the way, but the indirect method is such a gentle heat there would have been plenty of time to take it off at the right temperature for someone who likes their burgers medium rare.

While the meat was resting, Elisabeth chopped up a sweet onion fairly thickly, which got a drizzle of olive oil and some salt to use the residual heat after I toasted our buns over it. The meat was cooked through, still juicy and there wasn’t a smoke ring; the meat was so loosely packed the whole thing was the pink of a smoke ring.

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