Although burgers taste great all year round, there's something truly special about enjoying a chargrilled beef patty in your own backyard over the summer. For many of us, this means heading to the grocery store to pick up a package of regular ground beef, or if we’re really desperate, reaching for a bag of frozen patties. Although this may win points for convenience, how do we know what’s actually in the ground beef we buy?
We’re not just talking about the types of beef used here but rather about more specific factors: what the meat-to-fat ratio is (more on this later), which cuts of the cow are mixed together, and how it’s ground.
Big-brand supermarkets, even some of our favorite grocery stores, may list some answers to these beef-related questions on their packaging, but most of the time they don't; the packages typically just read “ground beef.” In efforts to step up your burger game, you’re much better off picking out some fresh beef from the meat case and asking the butcher if they wouldn’t mind grinding it for you. Nine times out of 10, your butcher will gladly agree, and if they don't — well, it's time to find a new butcher, one who will even share some of their favorite recipes. Before you make your way to the butcher shop, though, let’s discuss some important points that are necessary to keep in mind when thinking about the perfect burger blend.
Regardless if you’re using freezer case beef or butcher blends, the first thing to think about when selecting meat for burgers is the meat-to-fat ratio mentioned earlier. This just means is how much lean meat is included relative to the amount of fat. For instance, if you’ve ever seen a package of ground beef that’s labeled 80/20 (the most common), it means that there is 80 percent lean meat and 20 percent fat in the mix. Wondering what the ideal ratio is, though? Well, since fat adds both flavor and moister, 70/30 is ideal, as it yields an extremely juicy burger with exceptional taste.
The next thing to consider is what cuts of beef to use in your custom blend. Now, some people go crazy here and use expensive pieces of dry-aged prime meat, but that’s not necessary. Based on taste, price, and ease, our favorite cut to use is chuck. It has great beefy flavor, it’s inexpensive, and it’s widely available. And by the way, chuck naturally has a 70/30 meat-to-fat ratio, so there’s no need to add anything to it.
Lastly, the size of the grind needs to be taken into account. Too small of a grind, and the meat turns to paste. Too large of a grind and the patty will fall apart. Just tell your butcher that you prefer a medium grind, which will give your burger nice texture and help maintain its shape as it cooks. So take your 70/30 chuck blend from your butcher and get grilling with our 50 best burger recipes.