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Tony Stallone AKA The Produce Guru


There is no better experience than a freshly grilled burger on the grill!  Here are some tips and a quick recipe for your grilling enjoyment.  

Tip 1: Star with fresh ground meat, we love fresh ground 80% – 85%lean beefas it is the right blend of fat to lean and makes the best burgers. 

Tip 2:  Roll meat into 8 oz or 10 oz balls, do not press hard. Form the balls into patties with a fork.  Yes, with a fork – I call this my Fork Burger method!  This will help keep the meat loose which will translate into a more tender and juicier burger.  If you do not use a fork, form into patties without pressing too hard or long to keep the meat tender.  Over working the meat will make the burger tough and dry. 

Tip 3:  Put a thumbprint in the middle of the burger, this will prevent the burger from puffing up and cooking unevenly – It really works!  

Tip 4:  Keep it simple, salt and pepper seasoning, cook on medium high grill (approx. 375 – 400 degrees), and flip only once.  The FDA recommends cooking burgers to 155 degrees for at least 15 seconds, but for those of us who like it medium rare, 130 -135 degrees.  Put cheese on the last minute of cooking, close the lid and let it melt. There is nothing like a good gruyere or sharp cheddar on a burger.

Above all else once removing from the grill let it rest on the bun (the bun will soak up some extra juices from the burger), for a few minutes before biting into it.  I like Brioche or Potato buns for a good burger bun.

Keep it Simple Cowboy Burger

2lbs 85% Lean Ground Beef 

1 t Kosher Salt 

1t Cracked or fresh ground pepper 

4 Slice of Cheddar Cheese (or your favorite cheese, cheddar, Colby work best)  

1/3C Mayonnaise 

1T Barbeque Sauce (your favorite)

4 Potato Buns

4 Iceberg lettuce leaves (I love the crunch and hot/cold mix to the burger) – No tomato for me, I want to taste the burger!

Directions:  Roll ground meat into 4 – 8 oz balls.  Form into patties using a fork or minimal pressing (do not overwork meat).  Using your thumb create an indentation in the middle of patties (a little valley).  Season with salt and pepper liberally.  Let rest a few minutes before placing on the hot grill. 

In a small bowl mix mayonnaise and BBQ sauce. Spread on bottom half of buns.  Place lettuce on top half of buns 

 Place burgers on hot grill 375 – 400 degrees, turning once after 3 to 4 minutes (do not press down on the burger).  Cook for an additional 4 minutes (or until temperature reaches 155 for well done or 135 degrees for medium rare), Place cheese on patties last minute of cooking.  Remove and place patties on prepared buns.  Let rest for 3 minutes and serve. 

Grilled Fruit Skewers

2 Peaches halved; pit removed then quartered.

2 Nectarines halved; pit removed then quartered.

2 Plums halved; pit removed then quartered.

1C Water

1T Lemon Juice

1T Canola Oil or non-descript flavorless oil.

8 Skewers soaked in water.

1 T Brown Sugar

¼ C Macadamia nuts crushed.

Combine water and lemon juice.  Placed cut fruit in bowl immediately after cutting to prevent browning.  Remove and pat dry.  Place fruit on double skewers that were previously cooked in water.  By using 2 skewers this prevents the fruit from spinning on the skewer while grilling, making it easier to turn and cook evenly. 

Brush with oil, then place on a preheated 350-degree grill.  Cook for 8- 10 minutes turning once.  Remove from grill and place on plate.  Sprinkle with brown sugar immediately. Top with crushed macadamia nuts and serve alongside vanilla ice-cream. 

Optional:  Drizzle 1T of balsamic glaze to elevate the experience!

Optional Recipes from Pit Master Eudell Watts of Old Arthur Barbeque fame (barbeque sauce and seasoning can be substituted for similar available product).

Old Arthurs Bold BBQ Beans

Smoked Turkey, ham, cooked bacon or ham hocks can be added for additional flavor and texture.

6C Cannellini beans, cooked and drained.

1C White onion, diced.

 1C green bell pepper, diced.

1C brown sugar

1T Old Arthur’s Gold Dust Dry Rub or similar rub

1/4C molasses

2C Old Arthur’s Hot & Spicy Barbecue Sauce or similar BBQ hot sauce

In a Dutch oven or aluminum foil baking pan, mix onion, bell pepper and beans, Old Arthur’s Gold Dust Dry Rub and then stir well to combine.

Top evenly with brown sugars, molasses and then Old Arthur’s Hot & Spicy Barbecue Sauce. Lightly cover with foil to cook. If baking, place in oven preheated to 350 degrees. Cook for 1 hour. If smoking, plan to cook it for approximately two hours or more! 

Bootleg Cole Slaw

1-pound shredded green cabbage

1 cup shredded red cabbage.

1/2 cup shredded carrot

1/4 cup radish, julienned.

4 Green onions, thinly sliced.

1C mayonnaise

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

3 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon celery seed,

cracked 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, ground.

 3 tablespoons Old Arthur’s Bootleg Dry Rub or similar product)

In a large bowl, toss the shredded cabbage (s), shredded carrot, onion, and radish. In a small bowl, whisk together mayonnaise with the vinegar, 3 tablespoons of sugar, the celery seeds, ground black pepper, and Bootleg Dry Rub. Add to the coleslaw mixture, and stir to blend thoroughly Add more mayonnaise, sugar, or Dry Rub if desired. Add salt, to taste Refrigerate until serving time. 

Grilled Ribs

I like to use Baby Back Ribs, some people like St. Louis Ribs which tend be bigger and a bit fattier and take longer to cook. Truth be told I like them both and they are very regionally liked (Chicago is baby back rib town),  Do not use spareribs, as there is a lot of unusable meat (cartilage and fat), in a full spare rib.

Tip 1– Slather with yellow mustard.  This will help the seasonings stick to the ribs.

Tip 2 – Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight – this will help the seasonings blend into the meat.

Tip 3 – Low and Slow works best!  Whether on the grill, in a smoker or in the oven.


2 Baby Back Ribs racks

1T Yellow Mustard

3T of your favorite barbeque seasoning or a blend of (chili, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and brown Sugar).

1/4C of water or beer

1/2C Barbeque Sauce (your favorite will do) – My favorite is Old Arthur’s Barbeque sauce, but there are many local great sauces.

Spread Mustard on ribs evenly, both sides (remember this is only to coat the ribs with a thin layer so the seasonings adhere to the ribs).  Liberally season ribs with seasoning (don’t be afraid, I like to press the seasoning into the meat).

Not a necessary step, but will elevate the flavor – (Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight)

Once ribs are slathered and season.  Place in a shallow roasting pan (a cooking sheet will do), add liquid.  Cover with Aluminum Foil and roast in a preheated oven 225 degrees for 2 hours, until fork tender. 

Remove from oven uncover and brush with barbeque sauce both sides starting with back side or rib side first.  At this point you can go onto step 2 or refrigerate before you guests arrive.

Step 2

Heat grill to 375 – 400 degrees.  Place oven roasted ribs on grill and rib side up, for 5 minutes, turn to right side up heat for additional 8 minutes.  The last 2 minutes of cooking add additional barbeque sauce to the ribs.  Remove and serve with your favorite slaw, fresh corn, and homemade baked beans!