If you want the ultimate burger, here’s a tip: grind your own beef. Do NOT be intimidated! It might sound like a LOT of work, but in reality it’s actually pretty easy. There are many benefits to this process: but most importantly you get to customize the beef blend and flavor, which results in a taste that you can’t get from the cellophane wrapped ground grocery store beef. Serious Eats has a great in depth article on burger blends that I highly recommend checking out, but I’m going to simplify it a little and show you what worked for me.
First thing’s first: what equipment do you need? For the budget conscious, this grinder has great reviews: Gideon Hand Crank Manual Meat Grinder. I haven’t used it myself, but it is a best seller on Amazon. I already had a KitchenAide mixer so I purchased the Meat Grinder attachment. It works great, and if you already have a KitchenAide mixer that’s compatible, I highly recommend it.
I also used a Sous Vide to cook the burger to the specific temperature that I wanted, then I seared the meat on a carbon steel pan. The Sous Vide is not necessary, but recommended if you want an effortless way to cook the burger without any guesswork.
What you need:
1/2 lb. Chuck beef
1/2 lb. Short Rib beef
1 Tbsp Lawry’s Season Salt
1 Tbsp Sweet Baby Rays Honey BBQ
4 Martins roll or some equivalent potato roll
4 slices American cheese
1 Tbsp Mayo
1/4 Cup Ketchup
4 slices Red onion
8 slices Bacon
Carbon Steel or Cast Iron
Optional: Sous Vide
1. Cut the beef into cubes.
2. Mix meat in the mixing bowl. For a good medium rare burger, I like to to go with 20/80: 20% fat and 80% lean. If you want the burger more well-done or “hockey puck” style, you will want more fat in your burger for flavor. The short rib cut gives us the fat. The thing to do is eyeball the meat and look for the fat, the white part of the meat. This might take some trial and error of eye balling but we really can’t get too scientific here.
3. Put the meat in the freezer for a good 30 minutes. If possible also put in the grinder. You want the grinder nice and cold so the grinder doesn’t heat up the meat too much when grinding. The warmer the meat gets, the more the fat will smear and you don’t want that.
4. Grind the meat then grind it through again. You want to grind as fast as possible to not heat up the meat.
5. Mix the burger meat and the egg with a large spoon. You don’t want to overmix or it will start to get mushy.
6. Form patties. I form them by hand but some people use a meat ring or patty maker.
Optional Sous Vide Step:
6a. Seal up in a zip lock bag or Sous Vide bag.
6b. Place burger in Sous Vide to cook for 30 minutes at 133°F.
7. After burger is cooked you want to get that perfect sear:
Heat up your pan as hot as you can and throw the burgers on for about 30 seconds each side (do not use a Teflon coated pan, the smoke from that stuff is nasty when overheated) . If you did not Sous Vide your burger, cook your burger to your liking.
8. Assemble your burger however you like. This is how I like it:
1. Bacon: Evenly spread out your bacon on a cookie sheet. To make your clean-up easy put down a sheet of aluminum foil first.
Cook at 400°F for 10 to 12 minutes. Cook to your desired crispness. The key is to take it out right before it starts looking burnt.
2. Red Onion: Cut into thin slices. I usually put one or two on top of my burger.
3. Burger sauce or Thousand Island: You can make your own by mixing ketchup and mayo together and dicing some pickles. Mix together
5. Cheese: American melts and tastes great on burgers. They don’t call it American for nothing.