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Aug 8, 2012 09:28 PM

Steak N'Shake Hamburg Recipe?

Anyone know of a proper meat cut ratio to use in order to get that delicious Steak N'Shake hamburger taste?

It's well-known that they use steak, I was wondering what kind, though?

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  1. Just about any cut of beef can be called 'steak' if it is cut as a steak as apposed to a roast. There is chuck steak, round steak, sirloin steak, etc.

    13 Replies
    1. re: robt5265

      Well, how do they get that particular taste in their burgers?

      I've had ground chuck and it tastes nothing like Steak N Shake.

      I still can't put my finger on what exactly it is.

      1. re: achilles007

        From their PR, their burger mix is a combo of round, sirloin, and T-bones.

        1. re: ipsedixit

          Ah... so the secret is t-bone...

          I wonder how much different the taste is between these three items?

          the ground round and sirloin I get at the local Schnuck's-- the butcher told me-- is nothing but a designation for beef that is 85/25 (round) and 90/10 (sirloin), with the chuck being 80/20.

          Is this true? That there is no difference between chuck, round and sirloin except for fat content? That a lean ground chuck would taste no different than either a round or a sirloin? This blew me away when he told me this, as I was lead to believe that sirloin was a different cut of beef that had a completely different taste than chuck.

          1. re: achilles007

            You must have misunderstood. Chuck, round and sirloin are different cuts from different places on the cow,

            1. re: carolinadawg

              Well... looks like I'll be going to a different butcher then.

              How far apart in taste would you say chuck, sirloin and round are in a burger alone by themselves?

              Obviously more care would be taken towards the leaner cuts-- but I'm just strictly wondering about the flavor profile.

              1. re: achilles007

                My experience as a meat clerk in the early 80s was: ground beef was 70/30, ground chuck was 80/20 and ground round 90/10. The lean was considered a minimum; so if we needed ground chuck to sell over the weekend, it was fine to dump round into the mix (one holiday weekend we ground up loads of chuck and round to sell as cheap 70/30 because we knew demand would be high; as long as it was LESS than 30 fat we were ok). Most people shop for ground beef for its fat content rather than the taste of a particular cut, at least in my experience.

                Also the grinder was as big as a Volvo and was only really cleaned once the meatcutters left for the day, so small-batch grinding would have been difficult without a day or two advance notice (and even then you'd have to expect cross contamination).

                1. re: achilles007

                  Chuck has the best overall flavor because it gets the most work and has very good marbling. Sirloin also has good flavor and marbling; it's more tender than chuck but this doesn't matter if it's ground. Not as flavorful as chuck. Round is dry, nasty and livery; it is not well marbled and must generally be served very rare to be at all palatable.

            2. re: ipsedixit

              Their double cheeseburger with all the trimmings and served with french fries is $3.99. I was wondering how they could be selling their burgers at such low prices If their meat patties are ground entirely from round, sirloin and T-bone. Then I noticed that it says on the menu "Made with 100% beef which includes steak." They don't disclose or even hint what the percentage of steak might be.

              1. re: Sam D.

                "Steak" is a meaningless term. You can cut anything into a steak.

            3. re: achilles007

              Could it be that they season the meat bit? A lot of places do that and make no mention of it. Even just _trace_ amounts of onion powder, salt, & pepper can make a difference. In good way, despite what some purists will say.

              You should definitely consider the fat-to-lean ratio as well. A truly fine burger shouldn't be too lean. Certainly no less than 20-25% fat.

                1. re: The Professor

                  You're right. Added a bit of onion powder and garlic powder to some freshly minced shortrib. What an experience!

            4. I’m surprised that Kenji at Serious Eats has not made this yet in his food lab, but he does describe it in the article linked below:

              The classic burger is made with a blend of chuck, brisket, and ribeye steak and gets cooked via what I'm going to call the Massive Smash technique. That is, it starts as a 2.2-ounce puck of beef that gets smashed into a 6-inch circle resulting in a burger that more closely resembles a two-dimensional plane of meat**, fully optimizing the amount of crust formation.

              More on the smash technique here

              And in this video for SE, Pat LaFrieda discusses his favorite cuts for a burger
              In case you don’t want to watch the video, it is equal parts of chuck, brisket (with the point) and boneless short rib.

              15 Replies
              1. re: EM23

                wow... where at do you guys find butchers willing to grind brisket and short rib?

                I asked mine to grind flank (again at the local Schnuck's) and he told me that they don't do that there.

                1. re: achilles007

                  I may just have to invest in an electric grinder but for now my cuisinart processor will do. Now... off to find a butcher.

                  1. re: achilles007

                    Perhaps search out a local independent butcher in your area? I'm sure the people on your local CH board could offer suggestions. Or, buy a grinder so that you can do it yourself at home.

                    Please report back if you discover the perfect blend.

                    1. re: EM23

                      Sure thing!

                      Right now with so many meats being thrown at me (t-bone, sirloin, round, brisket, flat iron, flank, oxtail, short rib, etc.), hopefully I'm BOUND to find something!

                      All I know for sure is that I am sick of Ground Chuck burgers! It's okay tasting for a decent hamburger, but for someone like me whom is a hamburger maniac, it doesn't have at all the flavor profile of what I think of the typical "burger taste" that I so love at places like A&W's, Steak N'Shake and the local rally's/Checker's I used to go to.

                      I've tried lipton's onion soup mix (pretty good and close to McDonalds), seasoning salt, accent, dehydrated onions, onion powder, garlic powder, heavy dosages of salt and black pepper, etc. etc. And I still don't have what I am looking for, the only solution left is the particular cut of meat.

                      1. re: achilles007

                        Are you pleased (first, before playing with the different grinds) with the crust you get on the meat on your cooktop? I get more flavor based on frypan temperature and fat in the meat....then I worry about the cut of the meat.

                        In the past twenty years, I've lived in four houses with seven different cooktops, so I've had to relearn how to do a Hamburger to our taste with each change of cooktop.

                        1. re: shallots

                          hmmm.. never payed attention to crust.

                          Now that I think about it. I guess I'm not very pleased with it.

                          I make thin (almost 1-ounce) patties so I never gave it much thought. What is your method for crust formation?

                          I never thought to think about the temperature in the frypan.... hmmm

                          1. re: achilles007

                            I thought I was doing burgers right. But I got the book by Hubert Keller "Burger Bar" and I learned that I was just a beginner.
                            I read the intro thoroughly several times, and then followed a couple of recipes exactly.
                            I could taste the difference and I liked it.

                            1. re: achilles007

                              Before you start monkeying around with different cuts you need to get this right.

                              Less than one ounce? You are likely overcooking the inside before you can even get a crust to form.

                              Perfect your technique first and then change one variable at a time.

                        2. re: EM23

                          Didn't discover the perfect blend, but i will say one thing== that short rib was damn near perfect.

                          One of the best burgers I've ever made.

                          I'm not sure if it's because of the tallow content being higher in the short rib vs. other cuts or what, but man-- that was very good.

                          Even though the brisket and ribeye were a very refreshing change from chuck, I found them much too "gamey" and "grassy" tasting for my liking in a burger.

                          That short rib was out of this world though. I am pretty much convinced that that is exactly what most of these fast food places use as burger.

                          I still need to check out sirloin, round, and experiment a bit more on flank.
                          And do a final test of my favorites, but adding in beef tallow this time to see if the results become altered a bit. This will tell me that it is fat content that I am looking for, but I doubt it seeing that chuck has a pretty high fat content but I still cannot stand the flavor.

                          1. re: achilles007

                            >>>That short rib was out of this world though. I am pretty much convinced that that is exactly what most of these fast food places use as burger.<<<

                            Not even close. Sure, it's delicious, and I don't know specifically what fast food places you're referring to, but it isn't what most of them are using. Lots of high-end restaurants may feature short-rib burgers, and maybe higher-end burger places like Shake Shack or the like do (don't live near one so have no idea), but "most" fast food joints, like McD's, BK, Wendy's and the like? You don't want to know where their meat comes from.

                            Okay, I'll tell you anyway. Their meat comes from huge processing plants, using the cheapest meat possible, mostly chuck and round -- because they are the biggest muscle groups -- machine separated from old dairy cows that are no longer producing. If this meat were in a market it would be graded Select or Ungraded. Short Rib is way too expensive.

                            Wait -- we've had this discussion before on your other threads, no?

                            1. re: acgold7

                              Yeah, beat this subject up many times. Very true with the dairy cows....most are not quality graded "No roll" and so tuff about the only thing that they can do with them is grind / process them. Think Swanson TV Dinners. Good % is now being imported which brings up other questions.

                              Very efficient & remarkable way of supplying protein to the masses at a cost most people can afford, however, not necessarily fresh nor the best tasting IMHO.

                              1. re: acgold7

                                Places like S&S, In-N-Out, 5Gs, etc., use fresh meat, so it is probably sourced locally. They have a specification for the meat blend that a local packing company makes for them.

                                1. re: JRC14

                                  No doubt, I'm just saying it has changed over the years. The taste is nothing like what it use to be and it looks very different. It was very flat and stuck out past the large bun. Now, the bun is regular size and it doesn't stick out. The burger of yesteryear would probably be cost prohibitive today.

                            2. re: EM23

                              I will admit I failed to get the brisket with the point though. Went at 12 am midnight. No butcher there of course

                              1. re: EM23


                                Very interesting the guy in the burger lab got the exact same results as I.

                                Short rib by far was great tasting.

                                I will have to try out the oxtail and maybe even the flap meat-- which coincidentally is where the T-bones come from (mentioned earlier in this thread as the meat steak n shake uses)

                          2. here's a copycat recipe for the seasoning, which they say is the key...

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: wyogal

                              So in other words, Lawry's.

                              Is this sprinkled on to, or mixed into, the meat?

                              1. re: acgold7

                                In the directions, it says to add to some oil to mix it into the meat.

                              2. re: wyogal

                                Hi, thanks for the post of this recipe. I actually have used the recipe on that copycat site in the past and it had great flavor.
                                I mixed it together and then into the meat.

                              3. I had my first steak burger around 1950 and often had them in the 1970s. The steak burger I had about 10 years ago tasted nothing like the steak burger I grew up with. I haven't been back since.

                                My grandfather lived at 801 N School St in Normal, Illinois. His next door neighbor was Gus Belt, the guy who started Steak 'n Shake. My mother used to work at the restaurant on Saturdays long enough to earn a burger and milk shake. I grew up on Steak 'n Shake. I think they started out selling for something like 15 cents.

                                The old steak burger was pressed flat and hung over a rather large bun. What they have now looks nothing like the original burger and doesn't taste like it either. Too bad, they were really great.

                                1 Reply