Summer may be coming to an end soon, but the grilling season is far from over. If you’re looking for a bit of inspiration to help you perfect your grilling techniques, check out these tips and tricks from grill master Daniel Frazer of The Pharmacy Burger Parlor & Beer Garden. “At The Pharmacy, we are passionate about grilled meats. And the secret to a great burger or brat is to keep it simple and let the ingredients shine.”
The Pharmacy Burger, a hidden gem in Nashville, is renowned for its craveable burgers and brats, plus a hip but cozy biergarten vibe. At The Pharmacy, grilling is an art. So let’s step into the kitchen for a behind-the-scenes look at the grilling philosophy of this local favorite. Here are five insider tips you can use at home to create mouthwatering masterpieces in your own backyard.
Perfect your patty. It all starts with fresh, quality ingredients—and a juicy, flavorful burger is no exception. The Pharmacy uses locally sourced grass-fed beef. Check out your local farmers market for meat options, or ask your local butcher for suggestions.
The upside to using your local (or grocery) butcher is that you can customize your blend of beef on-site. If you’re grilling outside, you’ll want a higher fat ratio for your meat than if you’re pan-frying. And expensive cuts do not always make better burgers. It turns out that chuck beef from the shoulder is a great choice for grilling up your favorite patty, and it’s usually less expensive than other cuts.
- Keep your seasonings simple. It’s tempting to add in plenty of seasoning, but if you start with quality beef, you don’t need a lot of extras. A good dash of salt and pepper will go a long way.
To season your meat, spread the beef out flat and sprinkle on salt and pepper before you form your patties. If you have a favorite ingredient like Worcestershire sauce or fresh herbs, add that now. Toss together gently, but don’t overmix; your burgers may get tough. After forming the patties, and right before you grill, season the outside of the burgers again with salt and pepper. Simple, right?
- Turn up the heat. But not too much! Getting your grill to the right temperature and creating zones of heat will help you get the perfect cook on your patties. First, set yourself up for success by creating two heat zones on your grill: low indirect heat and higher direct heat. Start your patties low and slow on the indirect heat source of your grill. This adds lots of smoky goodness to your burgers, and you won’t overcook the meat.
As each patty comes up to your desired temperature (we like medium!), move it to the direct heat side of your grill to create those coveted grill marks. Here’s a pro tip: Flip your burgers only once and resist the temptation to press down on the patty with your spatula. You’ll dry out your burger and lose the juiciness!
- It’s all about the condiments. The Pharmacy makes most of its condiments in-house, but you can also source your condiments from your local grocer. The trick is to pick flavors you love! Grilled veggies, beer cheese, garlic aioli, spicy peppers, and pickles are just a few of your options. With so many choices, you may be wondering where to start. Another insider tip? Aioli is just a fancy name for a mayonnaise-like sauce. And you can add so many different flavors to an aioli to make it your own!
If you’re overwhelmed with options, pick a burger theme, like a classic American cheeseburger; a Southwest-inspired patty with jalapeños, ghost pepper jack, and chipotle avocado aioli; or a farm burger topped with bacon and a sunny-side-up egg. Whatever you choose, prep your condiments and toppings ahead of time so they are ready to go when your patties come off the grill.
- Don’t forget the sides. Creating a well-rounded spread for a backyard barbecue involves more than just the burgers themselves. You’re going to want sides that complement the smoky flavors of the grill. When we think of the perfect sides for an amazing burger, we think potatoes! Fries, tater tots, and potato salad are classic go-to sides for a grill-out, but The Pharmacy also recommends coleslaw and pasta salad. And of course you can’t go wrong with your favorite family recipes on the side.
Here are some more suggestions for the perfect sides to serve with those delicious burgers:
- Sweet Potato Fries: Swap out regular fries for the sweet potato variety for a healthier and slightly sweeter option that still satisfies the craving for something crispy.
- Grilled Vegetable Skewers: Skewers of marinated and grilled vegetables, such as bell peppers, zucchini, and onions, offer a flavorful and colorful accompaniment.
- Macaroni and Cheese: Creamy mac and cheese is a crowd-pleaser that both kids and adults will enjoy. It’s comfort food at its best.
- Caprese Salad: A simple caprese salad with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, and balsamic glaze is a light and elegant option.
- Onion Rings: Crunchy onion rings are a tasty and indulgent addition to your burger feast.
From perfecting the patty and embracing the art of seasoning to finding the right grill temperatures and crafting condiments, you’re now ready to take your burger-grilling skills to the next level. But if you would rather take a night off and let someone else do the cooking, stop by one of The Pharmacy’s three locations in Nashville to try the burgers or brats paired with just the right beer.