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Published: Thursday, 7/17/2008

Make It 160 Degrees for a Safe and Savory Burger

(ARA) - It's that special time of year when home chefs nationwide are heating up the grill and putting their cooking skills to the test. But are they cooking burgers so they're not only savory, but also safe to consume?

Most backyard chefs don't know the optimal temperature for a grilled or cooked burger, according to a national consumer survey from The Beef Checkoff. In fact, nearly 90 percent of respondents were unaware that 160 F is the correct internal temperature when cooking ground beef patties.

When it comes to serving the best burger, professional grill masters like Steven Raichlen, best-selling author of 28 cookbooks including the just-published "Barbecue Bible! 10th Anniversary Edition" and host of the new "Primal Grill" on PBS, leave nothing to chance. Instead, they reach for an instant-read meat thermometer, the only reliable way to ensure ground beef reaches an internal temperature of 160 F.

"When it comes to serving a world class burger, the right preparation is just as important as the right ingredients," says Raichlen. "Remember, the internal temperature for a safe and savory burger is 160 F. So every time you fire up the grill to make burgers, remember that your instant-read thermometer is just as important as your favorite tongs or spatula."

To serve safe and savory burgers for you, your family and your friends, follow these simple tips:

* Always cook ground beef to 160 F. This guarantees harmful bacteria are destroyed and ensures ground beef isn't under- or over-cooked, keeping burgers safe and savory.

* Stop eyeballing the doneness of your burgers. Rather than relying on colors or juices, get an instant-read meat thermometer which gives an accurate temperature reading much quicker than an oven-proof meat thermometer.

* Use your instant-read meat thermometer properly. Always insert the meat thermometer sideways into the thickest portion of the patty to ensure it has reached 160 F. And to make sure you get an accurate reading the next time burgers are on the grill, hand wash your thermometer instead of using the dishwasher.

Recipe:

The Great American Hamburger

Adapted from The Barbecue Bible by Steven Raichlen (Workman Publishing)

Total preparation and cooking time: 30 to 35 minutes

Makes 6 servings.

Ingredients:

1-1/2 pounds ground beef

2 to 3 tablespoons butter, melted or extra-virgin olive oil (optional)

6 Vidalia or other sweet onion slices, cut 1/2-inch thick (optional)

Coarse salt and pepper

6 hamburger buns, split

Toppings: Iceberg lettuce leaves, tomato slices, dill or sweet pickle slices, cooked

bacon, ketchup, mustard and/or mayonnaise (optional).

Directions:

1. Lightly shape beef into six 1/2-inch thick patties. Brush onion slices with 1-1/2 teaspoons melted butter, if desired.

2. Place onion slices on grid over medium ash-covered coals. Grill, covered, 15 to 20 minutes (over medium heat on preheated gas grill, covered, 15 to 20 minutes) or until tender. Place patties on grid over medium, ash-covered coals. Grill, uncovered, 11 to 13 minutes (over medium heat on preheated gas grill, covered, 7 to 8 minutes), turning occasionally, until instant-read thermometer inserted horizontally into center registers 160 F. Season with salt and pepper, as desired.

3. Brush cut sides of buns with remaining butter, if desired. Place cut sides down on grid during last minute of grilling.

4. Serve burgers on buns and top with toppings, if desired. Close sandwiches.

Cook's Tip: If using 95 percent lean ground beef, add 1/4 cup soft bread crumbs and

1 egg white to ground beef in step 1. Courtesy of ARAcontent



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