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Best Beef to Use for Home-Made Hamburgers

Asked by ritadumaine. Answered on 10th February 2011

Full question

I would like to begin grinding my own meat for hamburger. What would you suggest are the best cuts to use? Thank you, Rita Dumaine Sugar Land, Texas

Our answer

Grinding (mincing) beef for your own hamburgers is popular as it removes some of the "mystery" from what is in the meat mixture so it is a good idea to start with the way the beef is raised. Grass-fed beef which has been reared in an outdoor environment will invariably taste better than anything which has been intensively reared, and if it is hung or aged then all the better. It is not worth using the premium cuts such as tenderloin (UK fillet) or strip steak (UK sirloin steak), these are generally chosen for tenderness rather than flavor and as grinding or mincing the beef will tenderize it anyway it is not worth spending extra money for tender cuts of beef. Also for hamburgers you need a decent level of fat as the burger is usually grilled (UK griddled/BBQ) or broiled (UK grilled) and needs the fat to keep the burger moist during cooking.

Usually a ratio of 80% lean beef to 20% fat is recommended for burgers and chuck (UK also known as stew/shoulder/blade) is quite common as it it roughly this proportion of meat to fat and the meat is fairly well-flavored. This is a good cut to start with and you can then experiment with combinations of cuts according to your taste. If introducing some leaner cuts then try adding either sirloin (UK rump) or round (UK topside/silverside) up to equal quantities of the leaner beef to the chuck. Some also like to use brisket as part of the mixture, though you may ned to remove some of the outside fat from the brisket and only use brisket as up to 25% of the overall mixture.

When grinding or mincing the beef then try to use a proper grinder/mincer (you can get manual versions or freestanding mixers such as Kitchen Aid also have them as optional attachments). If you are using a food processor then work carefully as the blade of a food processor can overwork the mixture leading to a mushy texture - pulse the meat 6-8 times only and work in small batches. With either method cut the meat into even-sized cubes (about 1 inch/2.5cm) before grinding.

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