Five Ways to Perk Up Your Burger on the Barbecue

We love that enticing smell in the summertime. The heavenly aroma of juicy meat sizzling away on the barbecue, the smoke wafting into the air, setting stomachs to rumbling and mouths watering.

We love to sink our teeth into that delicious burger fresh off the grill, set on a warm toasted bun with a slice of melted cheese; that delectable meat patty brings us such satisfying enjoyment in its simplicity.

You might say to yourself, the burger is already perfect, infused with the aromas and flavors of the grill. A perfect recipe for barbecued bliss, how can it possibly be improved?

Quite easily. Too many of us are accustomed to simply and somewhat unobjectively tossing a few burgers onto the grill then consuming the finished product. We no longer appreciate how the grill can not only enhance the flavors of the meat, but the subtle flavors of any seasoning or marinades we deign to put on the burger.

Take a journey down the aisles of the supermarket, and you’ll find a endless parade of marinades, herb and spice rubs, and various barbecue sauces all competing for your attention. Easy and convenient, but why take up valuable shelf space in your pantry and fridge with an assortment of products when you can easily prepare your own delicious marinades and seasonings with items you likely already own?

Whether prepared for your own family’s dinner enjoyment, or to fit the theme of a backyard barbecue party, you’ll find that these simple and quick burger enhancements bring your burgers to an unimagined realm of flavor. Marinades are adequate for four burgers, adjust accordingly for more.

To inject a bit of the tropics into your burger experience, simply mix together a cup of orange juice, a 1/4 cup of teriyaki sauce, and a tablespoon of soy sauce. Typically, you would only need to marinate for about an hour, but marinating overnight will impart deeper, stronger flavors. If you have it, add some pineapple juice or either pineapple or orange marmalade to the mixture.

For a southwestern flair with a little kick, mix together a 1/4 cup tequila, a 1/4 cup lime juice, and some red pepper flakes to taste. You can substitute chopped chilis for the red pepper flakes if you desire something hotter and spicier, and 2 chopped shallots or 1/2 a small chopped onion adds a little something special to the flavor. Marinate two hours or overnight.

For some Asian influence, we turn to the spice rack. Mix together a tablespoon each of ginger, either minced or powdered, two tablespoons minced garlic, a teaspoon of pepper, and a teaspoon of mustard powder, and add to a mixture of 1/4 cup teriyaki sauce and 2 tablespoons soy sauce, and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. For additional flavors, add 1 teaspoon five spice powder, and substitute plum sauce for the teriyaki sauce. You can also add either a 1/4 cup of sak�© or rice wine (mirin). Marinate two hours or overnight.

Still perusing the spice rack, you’ll probably have most, if not all, of the ingredients necessary to make a nifty creole spice rub. Mix together 1 tablespoon each of black pepper, cayenne pepper, oregano, onion powder, and salt. Add 2 tablespoons each of paprika and garlic powder. Mix thoroughly, then sprinkle and press onto the burgers.

Last but not least, and certainly unforgettable, its the parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme burger. Mix a tablespoon each of the above spices with 1/4 cup olive oil, and marinate the burgers 1 hour or overnight. Shake off any excess oil before placing burgers on the grill. Add pepper to taste.

With these five newfound burger masterpieces, you may need to invest in an extra propane canister or two, because you’ll surely be getting hefty use out of your barbecue.

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