There are a couple of ways to make a juicy fail-proof burger for a tailgate. The easiest and most consistent way to do it is to stuff the burger with cheese. A stuffed burger is juicy by nature because the inside is oozing gooey cheese rather than dense beef. This gives you more flexibility at the tailgate because you can keep the burgers warm on the grill longer without worrying about drying them out. The addition of bacon and jalapenos to the cheddar cheese center of this burger provides a unique texture along with a spicy kick that will change the way you view a typical burger.
The Ultimate Stuffed Burger
Makes 10 burgers
2 8 ounce blocks of sharp cheddar cheese
Jar of sliced jalapeno peppers
Peppered Bacon (cooked in advance, at least 10 slices)
2 1/2 to 3 pounds 80-85% ground beef
2 packs of fresh potato rolls (at least 10 rolls)
For the dry rub:
1 1/2 Tablespoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons black pepper
3 teaspoons garlic powder
3 teaspoons onion powder
Begin by slicing the cheddar cheese block into small cubes about 4-5 mm in size. The purpose of slicing small cubes rather than using shredded cheese is that the cubes melt very well within the burger. Next, finely dice about a 1/2 cup of sliced jalapeno peppers and crumble the cooked bacon. Take about a 1/4 pound of ground beef and roughly form a thin patty of beef in your hand. Take some of the cubed cheese, diced jalapeno peppers and crumbled cooked bacon and generously place it in the center of the patty. Bring the sides of the patty up and over the cheese mix. This may require some squishing and reforming as you go. Finally, pinch the top of the burger closed and make sure it is sealed well all around. The best burger will be one that is heavily filled with cheese, bacon and jalapenos. Don't be afraid to overstuff the burger.
After all of the burgers are formed, prepare the dry rub by mixing the rub ingredients together. Sprinkle the rub all over each side of the burger. It is important to apply a heavy layer of rub on the burgers to create a nice crust when grilled. Place the burgers in an aluminum tin (refrigerate overnight if convenient). An hour or so before the tailgate, generously pour Worcestershire sauce all over each burger in the tin.
When you arrive at the tailgate, prepare the grill for a medium or medium-high heat. Grill the burgers over direct heat until the beef is cooked through and the cheesy inside is completely melted. When the burgers are finished, move them away from the direct heat and grill the potato rolls for about 30-45 seconds to get them warm and toasted. Add the burgers to the toasted buns and serve. These burgers don't require any of the typical burger condiments because the stuffing provides amazing texture and flavor.
John Thomas is the author of the Baltimore-based grilling blog grilling24x7.com.