Audio Slideshow: Perfect Grass-Fed Beef Burgers

Brandt Beef chef Tom McAliney shows us how to cook a better burger, in more ways than one.

Even in Manhattan, where the term “backyard” most often means a four-inch strip of balcony or a patio shared with the creep from apartment 4E, Memorial Day still means the start of grilling season. While Madison Square Park is off-limits for charcoal fiends, sadly, there are still places and spaces to get your grill on, be it a borrowed stretch of green, one of the officially sanctioned city park spots for grilling, or maybe even just a hot grill pan on your tiny stovetop.

What we’re trying to say is that even New Yorkers without access to a Weber Genesis E-320 still dream of cooking up that perfect steak, which is why we’re gonna help out our friends at Dean & Deluca (whom we met back when we co-judged their in-house barista competition) and the family-run company Brandt Beef (Dean & Deluca’s beef purveyors, who raise their animals without hormones and antibiotics and even grow their own alfalfa) with an in-house grilling demo on Thursday May 27th, just before Memorial Day.

Better still, Brandt and Dean & Deluca have offered to give away for free their $225 Private Reserve Grilling Collection to one very special reader (whom we hope is a carnivore, or at least really likes to cook for someone who is). The PRGC is pretty sweet, we must say: 2 loin strip steaks, 2 cowboy-cut rib chops, 2 shoulder-cut flat iron steaks and 2 baseball top sirloins and 4 burgers, which are ground fresh daily by Dean & Deluca from four whole muscle cuts. (It’s an 80 to 20% lean to fat ratio, says Brandt Beef’s in-house chef Tom McAliney, though with city burger wars at their peak, he won’t tell us much more about the mix than that.)

How do you win? Good question. We want to know which of you has gone to the greatest lengths to grill out here in Manhattan. Tell us your stories of law-breaking, crafty barbecue grill creation or just subway schleps right here in the comments. We’ll pick a winner in time for you to get your Memorial Day beef on, which will be cut to order by chef Tom and sent right to you just before the weekend.

Meanwhile, during that May 27th demo — it’s from 3 to 6 p.m. at Dean & DeLuca’s 1150 Madison Avenue branch at 85th Street — Brandt Beef’s in-house chef Tom McAliney will be showing off his mastery of grilling steak. But because we know so many of you don’t have access to grills very often (or fine steaks, for that matter) we asked him to show us — and you, via the slideshow above — how to perfectly cook his company’s perfect burgers on a dinky stovetop with a scuffed-up skillet.

He covers burger lore such as when to salt (just before it hits the pan), when to flip (only once) and when to press down on your burger while it’s cooking (never). FYI, no burgers were harmed in the making of this presentation, we swear!

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Rachel Wharton is the former deputy editor of Edible Brooklyn and Edible Manhattan. She won a 2010 James Beard food journalism award, holds a master’s degree in Food Studies from New York University, and has more than 15 years of experience as a writer, editor and reporter. A North Carolina native and a former features food reporter for the New York Daily News, she edited the Edible Brooklyn cookbook and was the co-author of both Handheld Pies and DiPalo's Guide to the Essential Foods of Italy. Her work also appears in publications such as The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and Saveur.