Thursday, July 16, 2009

Burger Trial I: The Grind

Here is my delayed account of my first self ground burger experiment. Well, at least the first one using the actual grinder attachment on my Kitchenaid mixer. I've done it before pulsing the meat a few times in the food processor, which, I have to admit, works surprisingly well, but surely is not optimal. And since we're going for perfection, I'm stepping it up. First, the blend ingredients:
  • 2 parts lamb shoulder
  • 2 parts beef chuck steak
  • 1 part beef short rib
  • salt
The variable in this trial is the grind method. There are two dies for the grinder, fine and course. I tried three different methods:
  • grind only once through coarse die
  • grind twice with coarse die
  • grind once coarse followed by once fine
And, after forming (very loosely, handling as little as possible) the patties:

The progression from coarsest to finest goes clockwise starting with the one at the left. And after getting the coals ripping hot and raising them as close as possible to the grate, and a mere 2-3 minutes a side:

And upon closer inspection:

I employed minimum condiment in order to make clear the differences in the actual burger. And the results? Inconclusive, they were all awesome. I ate too many burgers that day. It's hard to tell in the picture above, but I think the coarsest is on the right this time, the finest grind on the left. (I knew at the time for sure, but I don't remember now.) The only thing I determined was that the burger that got the fine die treatment was my least favorite, but it was a very close call for all three, and I'd say it would come down to a matter of personal preference. It's texture was, as you'd imagine, smoother and more delicate. But delicate is usually not what I'm going for in a burger. I decided to use the twice coarse ground method going forward, if for no other reason than it's easier to distribute the salt since I salted between grinds, an option I obviously don't have with the once ground meat. Presumably two grinds also mixes the component ingredients better, but I didn't notice a problem with the once ground burger. In any case, I loved all three, and went back for seconds of all three. They all are sufficiently tasty to my mind that I wouldn't mind having two types just for the sake of variety at a meal, but the differences were not as detectable as I would have guessed a priori. Perhaps the lesson is you can't go wrong when you grind your own?

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