Well, it’s officially football season, which means it’s time to pull your Chris Berman earplugs out of storage. More importantly: it’s tailgate time. So we asked for tips from chef Alaynne Alday at Encino, California’s Prohibition Burgers & Beer, an executive gastro-pub serving up gourmet burgers, craft brews and other stuff we’d like them to bring over before kickoff. Here’s all you need for an unforgettable burgers-and-beer-centric gathering.
Use natural grass-fed beef with an 80/20 beef-to-fat ratio. This will make the burger juicy and melt from the first bite. Preservatives are evil and will make friends change their numbers.
1 serving note
The professionals work on a schedule. Separate your snacks, appetizers, main dishes and desserts. A perfect grilling experience is when your guests are constantly nibbling on something amazing that you have made.
2 super starters
An easy appetizer is the key to a successful night. Here at prohibition we are faced with the same situation you have at home. What is easily prepped and made fast so your guests aren’t waiting forever? Our solution: bruschetta for the health-conscience guests and mac-and-cheese for the hardy guests. Mac-and-cheese is perfect. It can be prepped the night before and stored cool. Ten to 15 minutes before the guests are ready, just throw it into the oven and voilà! An amazing dish.
3 essential supplies
1. Aluminum foil can be used to hold the molded patties, and after the grilling the same foil can be used for disposing the used coal. And use metal bowls to cover the patties on the grill for faster grilling.
2. Instant-read thermometers are cheap—around seven bucks—but can make you look like an all-star when every single burger comes out at the exact right temperature. For a medium burger, aim for 140 degrees.
3. Use a flat grill spatula instead of tongs. Tongs pierce the patties and release the juice while flat spatulas make it easy to flip and maintain the juices in the patties.
In case you had any doubt that Alaynne knows what he is doing…
4 beer-pairing tips
1. Pilsners and Blonde Ales: Czechs might be known for their heavy punches and aggressive nature in the ring, but the lighter flavor of their pilsners pair best with softer-tasting foods such as chicken, salmon and bratwursts. If you’re avoiding the food coma aftermath of big burgers, stick with the total light package of a Pilsner and grilled chicken
2. Hefeweizens: the world’s go-to wheat beer pairs well with burgers that feature bright flavors and acidic tastes. Don’t be shy to garnish your grilled patty with pineapple and heavier cheeses like mozzarella for a perfect combination that tastes delicious and balances your stomach.
3. Pale Ales: your perfect burger beer! Pale Ale pairs well with a great range of food due to its hop citrus flavors and hints of bitterness. That said, with India Pale Ales, strong flavors need a strong match. Burgers with spicy or pungent flavors like green chilies or blue cheese would be a great compliment. The IPA is also fantastic with sweet tastes as sugar notes conquer those bitter flavors. A burger like Prohibition’s ‘Costello’ with apples and bacon are a favorite match of mine for a heavy IPA.
4. Amber or Red Ales: Another perfect burger beer for those who aren’t “hoppy beer” fans. The bitter taste accentuates flavors of caramelized onions, bacon and spiciness and is also great with BBQ sauce.
Pineapple? Yes, pineapple. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.
5 keys to the perfect burger, Prohibition style
1. Use natural grass-fed beef with an 80/20 beef-to-fat ratio. This will make the burger juicy and melt from the first bite. Preservatives are evil and will make your friends change their phone numbers.
2. Keep the patties at 1/2 lbs. Only the strongest will be able to request a double from you.
3. Limit the amount of times you flip the burger, and don’t forget the beef only needs a dash of kosher salt and black pepper to be delicious.
4. Make sure you get the right bun, not too top heavy and not soft on the bottom. A great bun will keep everything together and a strong bottom will keep the juices right where you need them.
5. Focus your burger toppings on the primary flavors: salty, spicy and sweet. You can be the most popular grill master if you give your guests the ability to add custom toppings such as: bacon, jalapeños, sausage, white chicken or anything else your heart desires.