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Feb 13, 2014 04:19 PM

Burger quest

Because we live in a burger wasteland (nanny state laws about cooking them to the texture of hockey pucks), the SO and I have resolved to grind our own meat and figure out how best to cook it to a perfect mid rare this summer.

First, I need a better meat grinder. I have a new one that just doesn't work very well. It clogs up, doesn't grind the meat to a pleasing texture, and the hopper is too small. In my fantasy world, I'd like to get one of the old fashioned, mechanical, metal ones that clamp on to a table. Any thoughts?

Second, I am soliciting ideas on the best way to cook the patties we'll produce. We have a gas barbeque, and of course a gas stove (pretty decent DCS with five burners and enough BTUs to get the job done). I'm leaning toward the 'cue as I do love a bit of char. What is your preferred cooking method?

The one thing I know we don't have to worry about is good buns as a local bakery does a killer potato one :-).

Thanks in advance for any tips, tricks, suggestions and warnings! Summer can't come soon enough...

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    • + 9 CHOW users

    Do keep your eye out for one of the old-timey grinders. They surface at garage sales and places like Good Will. I still regret leaving mine behind when I moved. That, and my food mill!

    • + 6 CHOW users

    id play with your meats. find a cut or cuts you like the flavour from what about adding pork or veal (me never). Pork does add a lightness and extra fat. My bf love this the best. I tried the clamp ginder and wasn't very good but there are many. I used to put chopped very fine onion, granulated garlic and oregano in mine. But really all you need is salt and black pepper. I like mine done hot sear on both sides turn down bbq to med and finish lid closed and they keep cooking so take off before there done to your liking. I also like a fat patty so started poking a hole in the middle so it cooks faster and evener. More fat the better but you have to watch it closer because of flare ups.

    • + 6 CHOW users

    Hey Grayelf,

    I have used a hand grinders that was passed down with great success on cooked products like ham and also small batches of burger but wanted more speed.

    I bit the bullet several yrs back and bought a LEM 1/3 hp big bite grinder. Heavy duty motor & ball bearings, not plastic bushings. Should last a lifetime & its grinds as fast as I can feed it which keeps everything nice and cold. COLD is key for a non mushy grind.

    In keeping with the cold is key idea, I cut meat into cubes, place on cookie sheet & freeze for about 1/2 hr. The meat does not freeze but it stiffens up and grinds really nice. I also put the grinding attachment in the freezer.


    I hope this helps.

    You can grind meat in a food processor if you're careful, start w/ 1' chunks and use short pulses.


    I found an old meat grinder at an auction. They can still be had.


    Technique is well and good, but a great burger must start with great meat. Google, go to the dry-aged burger, and scroll down to the Tony Bourdain video. Then acquire several cuts of prime beef, including dry aged prime rib, and make your own blend. (Or take a shortcut, and order from Pat.)


    I use a $100 cuisinart dedicated grinder with sausage attachments. It has three die for excursions, and it works great, provided you remove the connective tissue, and the meat and grinder a close to freezing temperatures.

    As for the cooking, it depends on the size of the patties and the blend of meats. For example, if you making thin patty a la the clown, then pan cook 'em; grilling will be too much hassle. However, should you want to make large patties, play with temperatures. Grill on high to get the initial char, then roast the patties on a low heat to help the meat relax.

    When you blend the meats, and this I strongly recommend to do, choose two lean to one fat, or add additional fat (say pork fat). The blend of beef will bring your efforts to the next level. Also, and most important, be careful when you make your patties. If you can align the grain of the meat the right way the mouth feel will be so much better and you will be less likely to get that rubber feeling.

    Also, a quick tip, make sure the center of your patty is depressed, it should be concave, this will help eliminate bloating of the meat, and lessen the chance of eruptions due to boiling juices.

    Good luck!