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BBQ Survival Guide

Making the Most of Bugs, Beer, and Burgers

Let’s take a minute to celebrate our Independence before we jump into what this weekend is really all about: BBQ Season Kick-Off! To get things started, we asked Bobby Flay how to grill a perfect hamburger. We also hunted down a nontoxic bug repellant, found the perfect gift for the BBQ host, and discovered an easy way to remember which beer is yours.

BUGS. Slather your kids with Badger Balm organic bug repellant. If a determined biter still gets through, treat the itchies with After Bite.

BEER. Keep track of your longneck with Perpetual Kid’s Beer Bands.

BRING. Williams-Sonoma’s monogrammed branding iron makes a cool gift for the BBQ host (and lasts a lot longer than flowers).

BURGERS. Order grass-fed ground beef (free of pesticides, antibiotics, and hormones) from La Cense Beef. And for the main event? Bobby Flay tells us how to grill the perfect burger:

“Anyone who grills needs to master the art of getting the food off the fire when it’s cooked just right—not too much, not too little—and allowing for a little more cooking to take place after it’s off the heat. Here are a few tips to help you get your burgers cooked exactly the way you want them.

Keep the grates reasonably clean. The best flavor comes from quick searing directly over a hot fire. (Note: my experience with electric grills has been that they simply do not get hot enough to get a good sear on the meat.

Always cook burgers over high heat. Until you are very familiar with grilling, I recommend using the time-tested method of holding your hand a few inches—about four—above the grate and seeing how long you can keep it there. I know it sounds dangerous, but you’ll pull your hand back at just the right moment. If you can only keep your hand there for two counts, the grill is at high heat; four counts is medium-high heat; six counts is medium; eight counts is medium-low and ten counts is low heat.

Don’t start moving the food around right after you put it on the grill. Give it a few minutes to cook. This will allow it to sear on the bottom so that it naturally pulls away from the grate and doesn’t stick.

Understand that meat gets firmer the longer it cooks. Rare meat feels sort of squishy, medium feels springier, and well-done feels as taut as a trampoline.

Let your burger rest off the heat for at least a few minutes before you serve. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the meat and continue cooking a little bit.

Remember it’s better to undercook than overcook—you can always put something that is undercooked back on the fire!”

—Bobby Flay’s fourth Bobby’s Burger Palace is set to open this week at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, CT. His latest book, Bobby Flay’s Burgers, Fries & Shakes, is currently a New York Times bestseller.