Mmmm burgers! And summer is all about grilling and burgers, but woe is me, it’s difficult to create a low sodium burger, not to mention a lower fat burger for a heart healthy diet. It’s not the meat, but the bun and the cheese and the bacon that adds a ton of sodium to America’s favorite food. And fat! Oh, the most satiating element – all that juicy ground beef or chuck, gooey cheese and bacon!, yet sometimes there’s little else that can satisfy a gnawing primal craving for meat. And that’s what “cheat days” are for – whether you’re maintaining a lean fitness regimen or a low sodium diet, just make sure that you balance it out by being good the next day.
After years of honing my cooking mojo to a low sodium diet, I’ve hit on a few tips for lowering the fat and sodium content without sacrificing the medley of flavors and sensory experience we look for in a hamburger. For us a burger is a treat, and not even every week because pizza often has the edge over burgers…
This month is special because I’m participating in Girl Carnivore’s #BurgerMonth for August. That’s right! Over 30 fabulous food bloggers bringing you a month-long celebration of the most epic creations we could slam between two buns. There have been countless burgers tried and tested to bring you the most extreme ‘GirlCarnivore’ worthy concoctions imaginable. So get ready for what is likely to be a month’s worth of “cheat days”!
Even though we are splurging, Don often has his burger on the spelt bread that is our new kitchen staple because it’s low in carbs and sodium (only 70 mg per slice) while I go for the whole shebang. This fig and smoked mozzarella burger is everything you want in a burger in one succulent bite: the big meaty chew from Great Range premium ground bison, salty smokiness of melted mozzarella mingling with sweet figgy goodness and the peppery bite of arugula. Instead of ketchup, try dressing your burger with a dash of Not Ketchup Spicy Fig dipping sauce. Truly sensational, you’ll see!
Heat your grill to 400 degrees.
Divide the ground bison into thirds. Gentle shape into three patties, making an indentation in the middle. Oil the grill rack using tongs and a folded paper towel saturated with oil.
If using charcoal, push to one side of the barbecue. Grill the burgers over indirect heat with the lid closed, turning once. About 5 minutes on one side, flip, sprinkle with salt and pepper if desired, grill for about another 4 minutes, place the cheese and a spoonful of fig butter on top about 2 minutes in. Remove from heat and let the burgers rest for about 5 minutes while you grill the buns on both sides over indirect heat.
Arrange arugula on the bottom bun, place the burger on top. Serve with onions, tomatoes, mustard, ketchup, Not Ketchup Spicy Fig, and any other condiments you prefer
If you can't live without a crispy strip or two of bacon and its salty goodness on your burger, then go for it - bacon plays very nicely with the other components.
TIPS: Key to a juicy burger, whether you’re using ground chuck, ground beef, or ground bison (ground chuck is higher in fat, which makes the juiciest burgers), please be gentle. The less you handle the meat the better. To shape your burgers, form a round patty by gently turning the meat while cupping the edge with your palms, forming a kind of rim and lightly pressing the middle to make an indentation. This prevents the middle from puffing up when the burger contracts during cooking.
Keep in mind that bison is leaner than ground beef or ground chuck and cooks faster. To ensure a juicy burger, be careful not to overcook. Visit the National Bison Association website for more tips on cooking different cuts of bison. “Individual cuts of Bison are identical to beef, except for color. Prior to cooking, Bison is a deeper red. This is due to the fact that Bison does not marble (produce internal streaks of fat) like beef. Marbling slows down the cooking process because the fat acts as an insulator – heat must first penetrate this insulation before the cooking process can begin. Since Bison lacks marbling, the meat has a tendency to cook more rapidly. Caution must be taken to guarantee that you do not overcook Bison.”
A huge thanks to all of the creative bloggers who were just as inspired by a month of burgers as I was and the awesome companies that have donated prizes to #BurgerMonth: