Okay, so I put together some pictures of my process so that hopefully I can get some good feedback. I'm doing this because this is important to me. It's been bugging me for years and I'm determined to get to the bottom of this.
We'll start with the meat. 1 lb. 80/20 ground chuck from Publix.
this is the beef that I usually use but I've tried everything under the sun.
You can tell I don't overwork the meat as you can still see the grinding pattern in the patties.
This is my grill. Its a Weber Genesis S310. It's not quite a year old but it has had plenty of use and I wouldn't hesitate to call it fully seasoned.
Just before throwing the burgers on the grill, I liberally salted both sides with kosher salt.
Onto the grill they go at about 500 degrees. Immediately after tossing the meat on the grill I turned the heat down to low/med and closed the lid. Every time the temperature approached 500 I lifted the lid to cool it down some.
After about 5 1/2 minutes, they looked like this. There were no flare up issues. These babies are ready to flip.
This is the final seconds on the grill. Total cooking time was 5 1/2 minutes on one side and about 5 on the other.
Fresh off the grill. By the way, these things smelled awesome!!
So. Simple, right? How was the end result? They were "as expected". They were good, tasty, even, but they were not great. Salt is key. I can tell that without salt they would be very bland. Now, I've had plain old ground chuck on a grill that just exploded with char-grilled flavor, even without salt, so I'm still at a loss. I'm going to refrain from using the word "smokey" as I think that it's too vague. "Char grilled" or the flavor of charred beef fat is what I'm after.
I'm currently experiencing two extremes.
1. My Mom and Dad can't make a tasty burger on the grill at all. They taste like ground beef baked in an oven. I cannot tell they were cooked on a grill at all. They have a 10 year old Weber gas grill.
2. My friend (actually, a friend of a friend) that can take can take ground chuck and a gas grill and put the the two together and somehow, this truly amazing burger emerges off the grill, bursting with flavor. He does nothing special to the grill or the meat and he adds nothing.
Why the two disparities? I'm beginning to think it's the grill, itself. Maybe there's some element that's missing in my grill that my friend has, I don't know. Maybe he uses lava rock, maybe he has a cast iron grate and mine's stainless. My Dad's grate is porcelain coated. ??
On with my never ending quest.