Photo: Ben Fink, The Kosher Carnivore

I love a slab of prime rib, sometimes have a hankering for charred lamb chops, or get a yen for Korean ribs; but there’s only one food I can actually say I crave – and that’s a burger. The trickle of juice that oozes from a perfectly prepared burger is a badge of honor as it runs down my chin and lands smack dab in the middle of my shirt.  I don’t even stop the motion of the bun to my mouth to wipe it off; I plow through and take that first anticipated bite. It almost never disappoints. So, when I tell you, as The Kosher Carnivore, that I can guide you to a great grilled burger, you will have to trust me.

As a purist, I don’t like burger gimmicks.  Straightforward freshly ground beef, a pristine roll, possibly a slice of a beefsteak tomato or a ring of red onion is all I need, and it’s all you’ll need if you choose the beef correctly.  For those with a good Kitchen Aid standing mixer and a grinder attachment, you can easily grind your own.  Make sure the meat is very cold, even pop it into the freezer, makes grinding easier.  For the remaining 99%, here’s what you ask your butcher for.

If you need some ideas for toppings, here are two of my favorites…

Guacamole Cream Aioli:  Like it’s cousin a Mexican staple of chunky guac, this simple to make aioli (a fancy term for a mayo with garlic), starts with a ripe avocado.  You can choose your avocados by color and feel.  They should be brownish green with a few wrinkles on the outside, too brown and they’ll be too soft, too green and they’ll be too hard.  They should feel soft but not mushy to the touch, the way a ripe peach feels.  Please don’t be that person who indents 12 avocados to find the one perfect one.  Don’t cut them ahead of time, they will brown, so use them immediately after opening them.  Try cutting them around their circumference and then twist them open.  The pit can be scooped out, or for the brave, hack your knife into the pit, it should grab your knife easily.  Wrap a towel around the pit to release it safely from your knife.

Pit and scoop out 1 avocado, drop it into a blender or food processor along with 1 large garlic clove, juice of 1 lime, ¼ cup mayo, ¼ cup cilantro or parsley, salt and pepper.  Process till smooth and generously spread on the toasted buns.

Tomato Jam: Way better than ketchup, but so easy to prepare, make extra to keep in the fridge. The plum (Roma) tomatoes should be firm to the touch, but not hard, a warm red/orange color.

Peel, core, seed and dice 1 1/2 pounds of plum tomatoes.  Drop them into a saucepan and add 1 cup of sugar, 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice, 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon of kosher salt, pinch cayenne pepper.  Bring everything to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to low and simmer about 45 minutes.  Remove the cover, give it a good stir and cook until it thickens to a jam, 15-30 minutes longer.

So, stoke those coals, ignite the propane or pull out your indoor cast iron skillet – but get your grill on and enjoy a burger.  Beer, flip flops and onion rings are optional.