Burger Secrets Revealed
The 4th of July is almost here and millions of Americans are getting patriotic by throwing animals on the grill. Today I’ll reveal my secrets for a juicy, delicious burger. The key word here is RESTRAINT. Fight the urge to add a bunch of ingredients and bread crumbs. Try not to man handle the burger too much. Let a burger be a burger. Let’s talk about grinding your own and why you should be doing this.
Reasons to grind your own meat:
- It’s safer. Ground meat is vulnerable to bacteria growth because there is more surface area come into contact with air. When you grind your own, the window for bacteria to grow becomes very tight.
- You know what you’re getting. Who knows what’s in that ground beef blend you’re getting from the supermarket.
- You’ll increase your burger street cred. Friends and family will think you have “mad skills”.
Let’s talk about the cuts of meat to use. There are a lot of different opinions on this. Here I am using a combination of chuck and brisket. Chuck has a good bit of fat woven through it and tons of flavor. This a favorite among burger blends. Brisket adds some interesting “grassy notes” to the burger as well as a strong “beefy” flavor. I am using 1 1/4 lbs of meat with a ratio of about 60% chuck and 40% brisket. This makes five large burgers. Check out this really good article on using the different cuts of meat. Many folks cube the beef before sending it through the grind. I prefer to cut into long strips. When prepared like this, the meat has a way of pulling itself through the grinder that makes it super easy.
Here I am using a KitcheAid with a standard grinder attachment. I pass the meat through the coarse dye one time. This will give my burgers their desired loose texture. Passing it through smaller dyes, several times, will make the meat dense. Make sure the grinder is clean and sterilized. Right before grinding, a good idea is to soak it, with all it’s parts, in ice water. This prevents bacteria from growing.
Here’s where the restraint part kicks in. Do not overwork the meat. Doing so will make it dense. Do not add salt to the interior of the meat. Salt restructures the proteins in ground meat, making them more dense, like a sausage. Forget the bread crumbs and egg for binder. I prefer not to add any flavorings, such as onion, garlic, mustard, worcestershire and hot sauce. The meat itself is delicious, no need to doctor it up. Simply form the meat into patties. The patties are going to draw up during cooking, so try and make them flatter and wider.
Season the outside with salt and pepper, and grill over a medium high flame. Because you ground your own meat and practiced safe food handling procedures, it’s ok to eat a medium rare burger (130-135 degrees F). About 4 to 5 minutes on each side should do the trick.
I always plug local products when I get the opportunity. Holman and Finch is a highly reputable bread company here is Atlanta. Check them out here. Don’t overlook hamburger buns as an important component. Get the best.