There's a certain beauty to backyard grilling: The sizzle when food slaps on the grate, the bursts of flames and smoke, and the incredible flavor of the food, all from a very simple process. On top of that, grilling is easy; in fact, one of the most delicious burger meals your grill can offer takes only minimal effort -- moist burgers with a warm Spring salad. It's my late-spring love, and it's a breeze to make -- perfect for a Mother's Day feast.
The magic to these moist burgers is fat. Head to your local butcher and pick up some fatty, freshly ground beef -- ignore the lean! think wagyu! -- or have the butcher grind your meat of choice (chuck or brisket work great) with some pork/bacon fat. The burger will have added moisture and irresistible flavor, resulting in a soft and succulent patty rather than dry and crumbly one. Back home, add any seasoning you want, making sure to balance dry with wet, and refrain from adding salt until the meat is about to go on the grill. (Bon Appetit offers a great list of tips for prime patty formation, and be sure to check out our essential grilling tips.)
Before you recoil at the thought of fattier burgers, chew on this: What's the point of having lean, boring burgers if you're just going to pile on fatty, mayo-ridden salads and other fried foods? For this meal, the burger -- with its myriad of toppings (try a mixture of cheese on top, and a nice dollop of gourmet mustard) -- is balanced with a simple and healthy grilled salad.
You can use skewers for this part, but it's so much easier to use a grilling basket. (Avoid the coated ones -- they'll deteriorate in a blink and no one wants clumps of coating in their meal.) Simply cut veggies into strips or chunks -- onion, pepper, zucchini, etc -- toss with just a little oil (olive, grape seed), and grill in the basket until they start to soften. Be sure to also throw some large, lightly oiled portobello mushrooms straight on the grill as well.
When everything is cooked, quickly cut up the grilled portobello. Combine it with the vegetables, and toss with a handful of feta and a pre-made dressing of good olive oil, aged balsamic (10-year works perfectly), and just a little garlic powder, salt, and pepper. You don't need a lot of dressing because the grilled vegetables will offer a slew of flavor on their own. The balsamic just kicks it up to ultra delectable status.
Voila -- rich, tasty, and full of grilled flavor. Mom will love this -- especially if Dad does the clean up!