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Michael Baldacci
 
July 23, 2015 | Michael Baldacci

Less is More

 

“The sun is out, the grill is hot, and the pool is luke…” a great line from one of my favorite actors Owen Wilson, in one of my favorite movies Meet the Parents. He is describing the day as he is about to entertain his guests, but to me it perfectly describes the summer days here in California. It always seems like the sun is out, the pool is luke, and the grill is ALWAYS hot. 

 

 

A lot of people pride themselves in their skills on the grills, while I do not want to sell myself short, I have mastered the art of direct and indirect heat, but in the end less is more. Nothing says summer like burgers, hot dogs and a baseball game. The key to all is fresh ingredients, patience on the grill and a good team like the Oakland Athletics to watch.

 

 

Sunday afternoon is a great time for my family to gather in the backyard, enjoy a 1:00 first pitch and begin a late lunch, early dinner type of meal. As I said less is more, this meal calls for limited prep time, and a cook time of about an inning and a half depending on how the A’s are swinging the bats. I like to get the grill going before any of the prep work has begun, consistent temperature is vital to a solid tasting burger or dog. It is important to have plenty of time to dial in the perfect temperature of 375 degrees, hot enough to get a good char, but also allows for a consistent cook all the way through without burning the outside.

 


Now comes the fun part, grilling, the patties should be set, the dogs are ready to cook, and now it is time to throw them on the grill. At the right temperature the burgers and dogs should be fairly straightforward and easy. Once the burger starts to curl up off the grill and show some browning underneath, it is time to flip, generally after about 6 minutes. At the same time you flip the burger, it is time to roll the hot dog on the other side. Two even cooking times will give you the perfectly balanced burger and dog. I usually like to throw the buns on with a couple of minutes left to warm up before serving, at the same time is it a good idea to ask around for the people who are looking to make it a cheese burger.


As the grill begins to heat up, that is the perfect time to get all of the ingredients prepared. Lettuce, tomatoes, onions, ketchup, mustard and relish are necessary for both hot dogs and burgers. With the core ingredients covered, I like to switch things up to give my guests some unforeseen and rarely used options when it comes to their hot dog and burger building. I love to throw in a couple of different mustards, including hot and sweet, Dijon and spicy mustard, in case the guest wants to spice it up. I have recently found that jalapenos on the hot dog are key for a nice kick of spice with a hint on sweetness. And while it is frowned upon by some burger enthusiasts, a good ole fashioned “Rodeo Burger”, which consists of a ridiculous amount of BBQ sauce and extra cheese, is usually enjoyed by at least one carnivore in the group!

 

Now comes the best part, cracking open a nice bottle of Elizabeth Pinot Noir, pouring enough for everyone to enjoy, allowing them to build their burger or dog and sit down just in time for a big A’s Rally!!

 

 

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