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Grinding your own burgers

photo-1“I had my doubts, but I have to say…this really was a revelatory meal for me. I need to buy a grinder.” – Brandon W., guest at my house last weekend.

Brandon and I both learned a good lesson last weekend. Though I’ve known better for a while – an argument that could be made for many of the things that I do – I have re-discovered the difference that it makes when you grind your own meat.

A few months ago, I received some mail from my Grandmother-in-law containing a cut out article from The Wall Street Journal including the recipe for Holeman & Finch’s 10 p.m. burger. Though my kitchen has been pretty well stocked with rarely used gadgets for years, it was only after the recent deluge of wedding gifts that I actually got my hands on a grinder. Thankfully, I hung onto the recipe and finally decided to try it out.

Much like many of the recipes that I use, I went completely off-book. Granted, some of this was intentional, and some was oversight. Though I didn’t replicate the H&F burger recipe, it served as an inspiration to grind my own patties, and that is more than half the battle.

For my burgers, I went 50% beef brisket and 50% dry-aged chuck blade roast. (DISCLAIMER: It has been brought to my attention that it was somewhat reckless to use dry-aged beef in a grind. It didn’t cause any issues for us, but do so at your own risk) It is a pretty simple process, and doesn’t add that much in the way of labor. The cost of 1 lb each of the brisket and chuck roast was only a few dollars more than ground sirloin, and the entire trimming, cutting, and grinding process only took about twenty minutes.

Start things off by trimming any extra gristle from the meat and cutting into 1-2 inch cubes. Mix up the cubed meat and grind. Gently press into patties and season with kosher salt and pepper on each side.

From there, I stuck with H&F’s recommendation to cook the patties in a hot cast-iron pan over medium high heat, briefly pressing the patties with a spatula after the first 10 seconds in the pan. Flip after 2 minutes, wait 10 more seconds, and press again. Another two minutes and the burger should be done.

If you’ve never tried grinding your own burgers, I highly recommend it. It allows a lot of freedom with you meat. Feel like mixing up the cuts of beef? Go for it. Do you want to add a little more fat to your grind? Throw some extra in there. Play with the recipe and see what you like.

Do you grind your own meat at home? If so, what is your favorite blend of cuts?

- By Jon Watson, Food & More blog

28 comments Add your comment

N-GA

July 29th, 2011
7:19 am

It’s too early for me to think very clearly. Dry-aged top round. I have to wonder about that one, Jon. Who buys dry-aged top round….for anything? I suspect that the butcher didn’t sell his regular, fresh top round so he just let it dry age in the hope that he could get someone to buy it.

Still it must have been delicious! Since both cuts you used were lean, how moist was the end result? You must have cooked the burgers medium rare, huh?

N-GA

July 29th, 2011
7:34 am

One more thought before I’m off….What about the bacteria? Aged beef accumulates bacteria on the surface. Professional chefs have told me this is not a problem with steaks because they are cooked (on the meat’s surface) at high temperatures and the bacteria are killed. However, when aged beef is ground the bacteria are diffused throughout the meat. For safety the burger would need to be cooked to 165 degrees (medium?).

Jon Watson

July 29th, 2011
8:12 am

@ N-GA – I’m a big enough man to admit when I’m wrong. Much like it being to early for you to think clearly, it was much too late at night for ME to think clearly when I wrote this. Your point about top round sounded correct, and I found the receipt I’d been looking for, and you are right. It was dry-aged chuck blade roast, not top round (post has been since changed).

To answer the rest of your questions – The patties were pressed pretty thin, so they came out at least medium to medium well, but remained very moist. Everyone came away unscathed.

carla roqs

July 29th, 2011
8:27 am

jon, you are the bomb diggity, sounds great!

Jackson Gibbs

July 29th, 2011
9:48 am

When I make burgers I grind a 50/50 mix of boneless short ribs and sirloin steak. They taste great and have a nice texture.

noelle

July 29th, 2011
9:51 am

Is is extremely dangerous to grind dry age beef. you are introducing tons of bacteria into the patty. Is might taste great, but you are taking a on a huge liability.

jimmy

July 29th, 2011
9:58 am

Check out the blue label blend Kenji came up with over at Serious Eats.

Grinding your own is the way to go, if nothing else for the ability to safely eat a medium rare burger.

Monster

July 29th, 2011
10:11 am

Kenji has covered this ad nauseum. Pick it up, Jon. Start making the In-n-Out, Telway, White Manna Ultimate Animal-Style Slider. Then you might be up-to-date.

Cheers

ATL4Real

July 29th, 2011
10:41 am

I grind my own; although I don’t own a grinder so I use a food processor. equal parts ribeye to top sirloin.

joe

July 29th, 2011
11:16 am

mmmm…meat.

zeke

July 29th, 2011
11:18 am

Could you post a copy of the WSJ article or just the portion on the H-F 10PM burger??

The Real Foodie

July 29th, 2011
11:24 am

1/3 ground chuck, 1/3 fajita meat and 1/3 brisket.
Make the best burgers. Meaty!

djtlaw1

July 29th, 2011
11:30 am

Grind my own with whatever looks good and is cheap – love using the coarse grind. Burgers taste like real beef!

House

July 29th, 2011
11:36 am

One thing you didn’t mention was the size of the grind and if you ran it through multiple times. I grind a 7 blade chuck roast and I run it through the course die only once. It obviously gives a “toothier” grind with a texture that has more substance and not so smooth. When I worked at a butcher shop, they ran their meat through the small die twice.

Lorenzo

July 29th, 2011
12:06 pm

My wife and I make beef tartare every once in a while and prefer our burgers rare, so I would never use store-bought ground beef of unknown bacteria count. I grind our beef, and even then I grind only what’s left after trimming away the exterior.

I once tried dropping a whole ribeye into the grinder. Very fatty burger that was not too appealing to me. The great thing about grinding your own meat is that you can adjust the fat content to suit your taste.

Jon Watson

July 29th, 2011
12:06 pm

@Monster- My apologies for such an egregious mistake. Please feel free to email me a comprehensive list of every topic that Kenji, Ozersky, or any other well known writer from another site or publication has covered and I’ll be sure to avoid those topics in the future. Also, if you have a list of every restaurant that has already been reviewed by Creative Loafing, Atlanta Magazine, or Knife & Fork, please include that as well. I wouldn’t want to waste anyone’s time covering anything that someone else has already written about.

@House- I used a single pass through the coarse die.

@Zeke – I’ll see if there are any permissions needed to post the WSJ recipe verbatim.

Matt

July 29th, 2011
12:40 pm

@Jon-you win for most excellent sarcastic post of the day and needed Troll smack down. Kudos!!

Again, lighten up people, it’s only FOOD!!!

Kay Stephenson

July 29th, 2011
1:03 pm

I haven’t ground beef burgers at home, but I grind up pork and make sausage all the time. I like to start with a pork shoulder blade roast (Boston Butt) and then season to either be hot and spicy Italian style sausage or a sweeter breakfast sausage. Yumm. Now you have me eager to try making beef burgers!

carla roqs

July 29th, 2011
2:17 pm

oooooh, monster… you made jon…ticked off. bad, bad monster, p.s. leave jon alone- he roqs.

SalMonela

July 29th, 2011
2:53 pm

House – a tip I picked up from Rusty at Pine Street Market is to run all through a large size grind and then separate HALF the meat and run through a finer grind. This will give you some nice texture and flavor variation throughout your burger.

Monster

July 29th, 2011
3:16 pm

HA! Mea culpa. That was a bitter jab that came out tone flat in type.

But seriously, make those burgers. You wont regret it. And dont listen to JK, use American Cheese.

I still think you and your Blanton’s rule.

Becky

July 29th, 2011
3:52 pm

Have never ground my own burgers, would love to try it one day..Or when are you going to grind them again Jon? You can just invite some of us over..:~)

D.J.

July 29th, 2011
4:30 pm

Jon, Looking at the picture did you use the KitchenAid plastic grinder? I have been leary to try mine with meat. Also could you lightly freeze the meat to make it grind better? Thanks for the info.

Jon Watson

July 29th, 2011
4:36 pm

@Monster – Ok, we are officially no longer in a fight. Can’t hate on a fellow Blanton’s fan ;-)

@ DJ – I didn’t freeze the beef, due to time constraints, but that definitely makes things easier. I did chill the beef as much as possible. I also froze the coarse die before grinding the meat

@Beckey – Mi casa es su casa

Ed

July 30th, 2011
4:40 pm

Thankfully, Holeman & Finch is less than a block walk from my home so I can just go there to enjoy the goodness without the work. :-)

Baltisraul

July 31st, 2011
8:26 am

I grind 50% corned beef and 50% sirloin to make hamburgers. But you must grind it 3 times.

Paul

August 3rd, 2011
11:29 am

Jon, I have also discovered the advantages og grinding my own burgers. I like bacon burgers and I have discovered grinding the bacon in with the beef (chuck in my case) gives a flavor that is fantastic. Pan friying is the best. Got the Idea from the show “Diners, Drive Ins and Dives

Baltisraul

August 3rd, 2011
5:55 pm

Paul…….thanks for the tip on grinding the bacon. Bacon makes everything better!