With summer in full swing, Top Chef Masters winner Marcus Samuelsson shares his tricks for creating the perfect seasonal grilling menu.
Summer is my favorite season because it always reminds me of my childhood in Sweden. I grew up spending a lot of time outdoors with my family—playing outside, picking fruits and vegetables and going fishing. I remember looking forward to fishing for mackerel with my father and uncles—I always felt happy knowing the entire family was going to have a great, fresh dinner as soon as we got home.
Summer meals are still wonderful, and there is nothing better than being outside on a beautiful day and grilling for your family and friends.
Summer is a great time to get out of the kitchen and get a bit adventurous with the grill. I have always admired the way Americans love to socialize and eat simply outdoors. I love the taste and smell of a juicy burger on the grill, but you don't have to limit yourself to burgers—grilling fish, vegetables and some pieces of fruit really gives your party a special kick.
You can fill your table with great burgers, grilled fish, wonderful salads, fresh vegetables and yummy pies. You can also make your own condiments or ask your friends to bring their favorite homemade toppings, giving you the opportunity to learn about different cultures and heritages. I make my own spicy ketchup at home and pour it over everything.
I am always trying to figure out what combinations will result in the best burger. America seems to be going through a bit of burger craze right, so now is the time to jump in and experiment and see what fun combinations you can create! Try combining new meats, such as buffalo and flank steak, or simply flavor your burgers with a variety of new toppings.
The best ground beef ratio for a juicy burger is 30 percent fat to 70 percent protein. I also always slice the meat instead of grinding it because it gives you a looser, juicier burger. Another one of my favorite tricks is to chop the cheese into the meat rather than placing it on the top of the burger. The one thing always to remember, though, is not to overcook your burger. It will always taste better when there is a bit of juice left in it.