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Old 01-04-2013, 10:00 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by no mayonnaise View Post
The only way you can get the flavor you're after is when the liquids and fat drip down from the meat as it cooks onto the heat source and carbonize. That's what differentiates grilling from other cooking methods... which is also why it drives me nuts seeing people "grill" on aluminum foil, but that's beside the point. And it only makes sense, considering there's no other source of the smoky, grill-ey flavor if you omit liquid smoke from the equation. Try using a higher amount of fat in your burgers, like 70/30 so you can get more fat dripping into the heat source, and maybe use a hotter fire to get proper grill marks if you aren't already--another source of grill flavor. If nothing else, a few woodchips soaked in water for 30 minutes and thrown onto the fire can boost the smoke factor too.
Oh yeah and I'd think that putting patties on at room temperature or just a little below would aid in the melting of the fat in the burger to make more smoke as it drips
Thanks for the input. I agree about the fat drippings and the smoke but the issue I'm having is that the smoke isn't permeating the meat. Perhaps I could try a fattier beef. Still, I'm left wondering how my grill/meat/process is different than most. I must be doing something wrong.

Oh, I almost forgot, not every grilled burger I've had is great. My Mom and Dad are just like me, they just can't seem to make it happen. Their grill is 10 plus years old and well seasoned.
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Old 01-04-2013, 10:10 AM   #12
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I don't think a burger goes on a grill long enough for smoke to "permeate" the meat as that usually takes a timeframe of a few hours with regular smoke, e.g. brisket or ribs on a smoker. The stuff that carbonizes gets on the outside of the meat though. Perhaps try rotating the burgers after a minute or two to increase the grill marks for more flavor? Not sure what else to tell you honestly. I'm all out of tips and tricks. Maybe someone smarter will chime in.
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Old 01-04-2013, 10:15 AM   #13
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I don't think a burger goes on a grill long enough for smoke to "permeate" the meat as that usually takes a timeframe of a few hours with regular smoke, e.g. brisket or ribs on a smoker. The stuff that carbonizes gets on the outside of the meat though. Perhaps try rotating the burgers after a minute or two to increase the grill marks for more flavor? Not sure what else to tell you honestly. I'm all out of tips and tricks. Maybe someone smarter will chime in.
I appreciate your help, thank you.
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Old 01-04-2013, 10:50 AM   #14
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BT nailed it. After much experimentation, and observation, it became apparent to me that the amazing "grilled" flavor came from smoke particulate deposition on the meat. Charing adds flavor, but it's the flavor you get from browning meat. The smoke has to come from dripping fat, burning on the coals. To get the heat required to burn the fat properly on a gas grill, you get flare ups that will burn the meat.

The burgers should be no leaner than a 70/30 mixture. To reduce shrinkage as the fat melts and drips into the hot coals, add a raw egg per pound of burger.

If you want woodsmoke flavor, use real wood in with your lump charcoal. It's smokey flavor will blend with the fat smoke. Personally, I love wood smoke on ribs, pulled pork, chicken, turkey, fish, roast beef, but not on burgers.

Be careful cooking with the grill on. Usually, the burgers cook fast enough to develop that wonderful flavor without overdoing the smoke. But I made the mistake one time of adding trimmed beef fat to the grill, to intensify that great smoke flavor, and cooked with the lid on. The result was that too much smoke particulate accumulated on the burgers, making them dirty looking, and bitter to the tongue. When I cook with the lid on (which is almost always), I just let the fat from the meat do the work. Leave all vents wide open. You want a hot fire.

Too often, people mistake very lean for very good. Very lean results in tough burgers that won't hold together, and don't develop the grilled flavor you are looking for.

Hope this helps you achieve the perfect burger.

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Old 01-04-2013, 10:57 AM   #15
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Properly seasoning the meat before you cook it greatly enhances flavor.
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Old 01-04-2013, 11:14 AM   #16
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Properly seasoning the meat before you cook it greatly enhances flavor.
+1

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Old 01-04-2013, 12:47 PM   #17
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I have to agree with The Chief, Very hot grill, wood coals, lots of fat, some flame and an open grill.
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Old 01-04-2013, 01:42 PM   #18
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i agree with mr. canis that you have to cook a somewhat fatty burger over high heat to get "that taste". it's about the fat smoke as well as the char.

also, a gas grill is nice but unless you're cooking a load of burgers to get a lot of fat smoke going, it won't be the same. even then i prefer to cook over lump hardwood when possible, like steve mentioned, to get additional real smoke flavour. i'm not a fan of liquid smoke unless i's way in the background, almost unnoticable.

i just started looking (again) into getting my first full sized weber kettle grill, the 22 1/2" gold series, mostly because i miss cooking things like burgers and shish kebabs over real coals for that authentic taste. i gave in to the gassy dark side a number of years ago for convenience, but with the rare exceptions of when i've used my little smokey joe on outings to a lake or picnic area, my grilling has suffered like jabba the hut on weight watchers .
Thanks Tom. I knew we'd agree on something
I do a lot with my SJ right now, too, or even my chimney starter. There's no replacing wood or charcoal for an added subtle flavor. Since I don't feel comfortable using either on my porch by themselves, I set them in the gasser
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Old 01-04-2013, 02:06 PM   #19
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Is this why Weber named the metal shields which fit over each burner 'flavor bars'?
I always wondered about that...
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Old 01-04-2013, 02:44 PM   #20
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Is this why Weber named the metal shields which fit over each burner 'flavor bars'?
I always wondered about that...
Interesting that you said that because I just bought a Webber S310! Although the grill is not yet fully seasoned, the burgers don't taste much different from the burgers cooked on my ten year old grill.
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