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Firecracker Burgers

What's your favorite meat to cook on the grill? I'd say without a doubt hamburgers are the No. 1 choice of most Americans. I'm not saying that because it's the favorite at our house but because statistics bear it out.

In Weber's 2011GrillWatch Survey, an annual nationwide study, hamburgers (69 percent) easily tops the list of most grilled food. Coming in second was steak at 46 percent, followed by chicken (42 percent), hot dogs (39 percent) and ribs (17 percent).

I can't say that the results surprise me. In our house, burgers are also the hands-down favorite. Our choice of meat usually is either venison or buffalo burger, since they contain less fat than hamburger. But we're in the minority. Americans' favorite is the beef burger (93 percent), with turkey burgers a distant second at 14 percent.

With grilling season just about ready to kick in, here's a recipe from McCormick, the spice people, for hamburgers that are served with an assortment of grilled bell peppers, which sounds pretty good to me. And with a dozen or so pepper plants at my disposal this summer, this recipe could become a favorite.

Firecracker Burgers

1 pound ground beef

¼ cup finely chopped red onion

1 tablespoon parsley flakes

½ teaspoon garlic salt

½ teaspoon black pepper, ground

¼ teaspoon red pepper, ground

2 medium assorted colors bell peppers, seeded and quartered

Vegetable oil

4 slices Cheddar, Monterey Jack or American cheese

4 Kaiser or hamburger rolls

Lettuce, tomato and condiments (optional)

Mix ground beef, onion and seasonings in medium bowl until well blended. Shape into 4 patties. Brush bell peppers with oil.

Grill patties and bell peppers over medium heat 4 to 6 minutes per side or until burgers are cooked through (internal temperature of 160 degrees). Add cheese slices to burgers 1 minute before cooking is completed. Toast rolls on the grill, open-side down, about 30 seconds.

Cut bell peppers into thin strips. Serve burgers on toasted rolls topped with bell peppers. Garnish with desired condiments and toppings.

Yield: Serves 4.

Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 524 calories, 28 grams fat, 35 grams carbohydrates, 100 milligrams cholesterol, 790 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber, 33 grams protein.