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I’Ll Have The Burger, Hold The Machismo

Rick Bonino Food Editor

So is steak your idea of a fun Fourth of July cookout, or are burgers more your bag?

Depends on your gender, according to a survey for the Chili’s restaurant chain. Men mentioned steak more often than women in connection with the holiday (24 percent to 17 percent), while women were more prone to pick burgers (37 percent to 28 percent).

Ketchup was the top choice as a condiment for burgers, by 56 percent of those polled, followed by mustard, 45 percent; tomatoes, 39 percent, and lettuce, 31 percent. Not surprisingly, perhaps, women were more likely than men to use both tomatoes (44 percent to 34 percent) and lettuce (39 percent to 31 percent). (No word on how many men mentioned beer.)

Chili’s chefs offer these tips for grilling burgers:

For a moister burger, use meat that’s more coarsely ground.

Don’t make your patties too big; they’re likely to fall apart, or cook only on the outside.

Instead of sprinkling the patties with separate seasonings, mix them together - salt, pepper, onion/garlic powder, etc. - and spread the blend evenly over the burger. The seasonings will stay on better, and you’ll create a crust that sears to the meat.

Once the patties are on the grill, don’t press them or flip them; cook until juices appear on the surface, six to eight minutes, then turn and cook for another couple of minutes, until done to your liking.

Pit stop

If you’re interested in testing your grill skills - or your chili chops - the Idaho State Champonship Barbecue and Chili Cook-Offs are coming up July 20 in Wallace, during the town’s Sportsman’s Day festivities.

Entry fees are $40 for barbecue (includes lamb ribs), and $30 for chili. First place in each category is worth $500, with $75 “people’s choice” awards for the entries most popular with the public.

For more information, call Janis Steading at (208) 772-9419.

Hot tips

Need a little help honing your barbecue abilities? Here are some sources for grilling ideas and advice:

For you online folks, Barbecue’n on the Internet (www.barbecuen.com/) contains a mother lode of information and recipes, as well as links to other barbecue sites.

Reynolds Aluminum offers a set of free grilling recipe cards, as well as a brochure, “Quick & Easy Packet Cooking for Oven or Grill.” Call (800) 745-4000.

Also free for the asking is a recipe booklet, “Year-Round Grilling With Olive Oil,” from the North American Olive Oil Association. Call (800) 232-6548.

, DataTimes

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