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Tom34, Supermarket Ground Chuck for Hamburgers

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Hi, all-- I put Tom34's username in the topic to direct his attention here also as he really seems to know his info on this topic.

Me, 19, and my older brother have been trying to make burgers out of the ground chuck from the the local supermarket chain (in Missouri ShopNSave) for months, and every time the burgers end up horribly.

We choose the fattiest cuts (80/20) in the vacuum packed tubs and if we cook the burger to medium rare the burger falls apart on us. If we cook it well done the burger is dry... and the worst part is... the meat despite at what level we cook it at has a very strong flavor (i dont really know how to describe it -- liver-like) that comes through and overpowers the meat. We have seasoned the meat with all types of spices, added breadcrumbs, ground our own meat using the vacuum packed-chuck roast, even upped the fat ratio to 30% and this unwanted "taste" is still there.

When eating burgers at longhorn or other steakhouses, this strong flavor is notably absent and the beefiness and umaminess of the burger is so tasty that you don't even need any condiments on it. In fact, I have to tell the waiter to go light on the salt as the beef itself is so flavorful.

My question is... what gives? Like Tom34's states, supermarket beef works wonderful for tacos, spaghetti sauces and other applications where the surface area is broken down and the spices and other flavorings can penetrate and somewhat make up for the lack of umaminess in the meat. The same cannot be for a plain hamburger.

Does where you shop at for meat really make this much of a difference? From Tom34's posts and from my own experience, it certainly does seem this way. Where should I go from here?

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  1. Oh... also... here's the link to Tom34's post:
    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/831064

    1. We grind our own, most of the time using top round, and when we make our hamburgers we use a panade of bread and milk

      Look HERE http://www.cooksinfo.com/panade

      1. First....never buy vacuum tubes of chopped meat. They come from batches of meat ground from possibly hundred of different cattle.
        You also need to try different sources for your beef purchases....or any other meat for that matter. You will find you'll like one better than the others. Your ground beef should also come from small batches. One notable meat purveyor limits his batches to under 300 pounds as a distributor/wholesaler. Most grocery stores will be under the 300 pound mark, most likely between 50-100 for a small volume store, so you should be good there. Look for a local butcher as well, they can be Joe Butcher or something like German, Polish or Swiss Pork Stores and Provisions. . Most ethnic markets(Asian or Latin) will have a meat counter. Give them a try. Expand your searches and you will find exactly what you are looking for through trial and error....some will be expensive and other will not....the cost of meat does not determine the quality of the product or guarantee a great burger.