Tuesday is National Hamburger Day. Everybody loves a great hamburger fresh off the grill. They smell almost as good as they taste. There are countless chains to choose from to order your favorite “fast food” burger.

Nothing says fall to me more than walking up to the Friday night high school football game and seeing the Friday night lights and smoke filling the sky from the concession stand burgers being prepared for all the hungry spectators.

Not one of these Friday nights takes place that I don’t think about my father-in-law, Henry Forrest. He loved watching his sons play football and his daughters cheer for the Cruger-Tchula Colonels on Friday nights. I can just hear him saying that he couldn’t wait until halftime to go and get his hamburger. He always said nothing tasted better than that concession stand burger on a Friday night.

When traveling to away games, he would always judge the halftime experience by how good the school’s burgers were!

Hamburgers weren’t really popular until their introduction at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis.

More than 50 billion burgers are sold in America each year. There is even a Hamburger Hall of Fame in Seymour, Wisconsin. If all the hamburgers eaten by Americans were placed in a straight line, that line would circle the Earth more than 32 times.

Here are some tips on preparing the perfect burger:

• Start with the right meat — ground chuck with a fat content of at least 18%.

• Don’t overwork the meat. The more you handle the meat, the tougher your burger will be.

• Use wet hands to form burger patties. Wet fingers help to make the meat come together faster.

• Make burger patties with a dimple in the center. It will even out as the burger cooks to make an even-shaped patty.

• Keep burgers cold until they hit the grill. This helps more of the flavor-carrying fat stay in the meat.

• Start with a clean cooking grate on the grill.

• Use a hot grill.

• Flip burgers only once. Constant flipping dries out the meat.

• Don’t press burgers while cooking. Let the burgers hold on to their natural juices.

• Let burgers rest for about 10 minutes after cooking before serving.

I hope these tips will be helpful the next time you fire up your grill. Every hamburger needs some great sides. Give these a try. You’ll be glad you did. Thanks for reading.

SLOPPY JOE BAKED BEANS

1 pound ground beef

2 tablespoons minced onion flakes

1 (1-ounce) packet sloppy Joe seasoning mix

1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce

½ teaspoon white wine vinegar

¼ cup brown sugar

3 (15-ounce) cans pork and beans in tomato sauce, don’t drain

Bacon strips

Brown ground beef. Drain well. Mix all ingredients with the beef, except the bacon strips. Pour into a baking dish, and top with bacon. Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour, or until bacon is cooked.

BUFFALO POTATO WEDGES

6-8 potatoes, unpeeled and cut into 1-inch wedges

2 tablespoons olive oil

¼ cup melted butter

½ cup hot pepper sauce (I use Frank’s. You can also use the wing sauce.)

Salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toss potato wedges in oil, and season with salt, pepper and garlic powder. Place on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Combine the butter and pepper sauce and drizzle over the potato wedges and toss. Pop back in the oven for about 10 minutes to heat thoroughly.

DILL PICKLE COLESLAW

16 packages shredded coleslaw mix

½ chopped onion

1 cup dill pickle relish

1 cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons pickle juice

1 teaspoon dill

½ teaspoon garlic salt

Combine all ingredients, and refrigerate overnight for flavors to combine before serving.

• Contact Lee Ann Flemming at lafkitchen@hughes.net.

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