Duke’s First Burger!!

Up to this point, Duke has never shown any interest in hamburgers. But this weekend he kept talking about it, so I knew I had to make some this week for him. I kept the sliders simple, 2 oz of 80/20 and some salt and pepper and topped with cheddar cheese.

IMG_1455His got some ketchup on it along with some pickles. The kid will absolutely devour pickles. He’d eat the whole jar if we let him. It must be the Czech in him from his Mom’s side.

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Mine got a little more stuff.

IMG_1459I think he enjoyed it.

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Sometimes, its hard to get a kid to eat, so when you find something they like or show an interest in, you gotta jump on it. For a minute there, I thought something was wrong with the kid. What kid doesn’t like a burger? But he polished it off!

Wife’s away…

…so I’ve been cooking up the stuff that’s not on her diet…which makes it not on mine. Funny how marriage works that way.

Started off with a pizza on Friday. Three cheese and pepperoni and salami.

My usual dough recipe, Egg setup (Bge stone on top of the AR) and temp, but for some reason it didn’t cook up like normal. Bottom was getting done, so I popped it on the oven under the broiler to finish up the top. Only thing I can think of is that my dough was less than 24 hours old and I usually let it go 48 to 72 hours. Oh well, still good.

Last night I went with burgers, 1/4lb patties

Double meat, double cheese, corn and some fries. Apparently we were out of tots.

Sitting here at work, trying to finish up and wondering what’s on the menu tonight. Me thinks wings might be in order…

Cheese Burgers Made With Home Ground Beef

Who doesn't like a good burger?

     While trying to figure out what to cook Friday, I was inspired by Kristi’s Bacon and Gruyere Burger on her blog Necessary Indulgences. The whole drive home, I was thinking of different kinds of cheeses I could use. Maybe a blue cheese? I could always do Swiss, but that sounded boring. American? Too plain. Colby jack, Monterey jack and pepper jack all came to mind, but were dismissed. Cotija? Wonder how that would work. Havarti? For some reason that one kept coming to mind.

     After letting the boys out to take care of their business (and by boys I mean Olie, our German Shepherd, and Bodi, our Yorkie. Weird combo, huh?), I gave Mrs. G a quick phone call to see if there was anything we needed at the store. She informed me we needed buns and meat and maybe some wine. I quickly added onions to the list (as I remember hearing her say the other night when she was cooking that we were out. See? Sometimes us guys listen) and ketchup and off to the store I went.

     I could have just picked up some ground beef at the store, but lately with all the stories in the news about pink slime, I steered clear of it. Not to mention you have no idea what kind of meat is going into it. Plus, what fun is buying ground meat when you can do it yourself? Last time we ground meat (HERE) I used about a 3:1 ratio of chuck to skirt steak. Why skirt steak, I really have no idea. While it was good, I didn’t want to do that again. I found a nice chuck roast that weighed about 3 lbs. That would be the base of my burger, but what else could I use? Looking through the meat section, I came across some beef short ribs. I thought these would add some nice fat to burger, keeping it nice and juicy, and would give it an extra beefy flavor. So the chuck was joined by a little over 1 lb of short ribs. Once again, this would give me a 3:1 ratio.

Grinding the beef

     I won’t go into much detail about grinding the beef. I covered that in my first attempt at grinding burgers, as well as in the sausage making. I will restate that heat is your enemy and to keep you meat and the metal parts of your grinder chilled. For this batch of ground beef, I used a medium grind plate (3/8″) and ground the meat twice. After removing the bones from the beef ribs and grinding the meat, we were left with 3lbs 6 ozs meat. Not wanting to do any more math, I just separated it into 3 batches and called it done. Two batches were sealed and placed in the freezer for a later date, leaving us with a little over a pound to make burgers with.

     We like to make our patties about 1/3lb. We’ve found that 1/4lb just isn’t enough for us and 1/2 would be way to big. 1/3 pound is just about right. This time, Mrs. G she insisted that I finally learn how to do it make hamburger patties.  Turned out to not be that difficult, just something she’s always done. Kind of odd that I never really learned how to do it by now. We kept the seasoning of the burgers simple so we could judge the taste of the meat. Just some salt and pepper on the outside.

Burgers going on the grill

We cooked the burgers on the Egg at 500F for about 3 minutes and gave them a flip.

Halfway

     A couple more minutes and my trusty Thermapen showed that we were approaching our desired temp of 145F (when you grind your own meat, and you know that everything is clean and sterile, you don’t have to worry as much about cooking to a higher temp to kill off any germs or bacteria). Now it was time to toast the buns and melt the cheese. Remember the cheese? All those great ideas I had for wonderful, flavorful cheeses? Well, cheese never made it onto the shopping list!! So we were reduced to digging through the cheese and meat bin of our fridge to see what we had on hand.

Toast the buns and melt the cheese

Mrs. G decided on some American cheese (really the only reason we have this cheese in the house is so I can make grilled cheese sandwiches) and I went with some some grated medium cheddar that was leftover from something or other. That other burger? The one with no cheese? That would be for my lunch the next day.

Served up with some curly fries.

This just may have been the best burger we have made yet! That first bite was like a beef explosion in my mouth. And I just smiled as juices dripped out of the burger and ran down my hands. Pure bliss. If a good burger can’t get you smiling, then there just might be something wrong with you.

Course you can't have a good burger without a nice cold beverage.

Was it the perfect burger? Hard to say, but you can be sure we’ll continue experimenting and trying out new things in that quest to find the perfect burger. I’ve already got some other ideas in mind. I wonder how brisket would work in a burger…..

Sliders with Home Ground Beef

     It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything here. Eleven days to be exact, and for us, that’s quite unusual. But we were out of town for a while watching Mrs. G’s sister getting married. And before that, I gotta admit I was just feeling a little bit burned out on cooking. Just couldn’t get motivated to cook anything. I’m sure you all know the feeling. You should make something for dinner, maybe something healthy or maybe something fun or special, but you just can’t seem to get your butt in gear. Sometimes you just need a break. Although I don’t think I’m totally over my burnout, last night the wife and I agreed that burgers sounded good.

Frying up some patties
Frying up some patties

     Bet you’re shocked that I’m not doing these on my Egg. I could blame it on being out of charcoal and forgetting to get some more at the store (but I didn’t forget the charcoal). I could blame it on mowing the yard yesterday and having a serious allergy attack, but I won’t. I could say that sometimes Mrs. G wants a skillet burger as the outside caramelizes and develops a nice crust, but the truth is I was being lazy and it just seemed much easier to do it inside on the stove.

Melting the Cheese

     To make these burgers, I went to the freezer and pulled out some beef that I ground up back in January and had frozen for a later occasion. Details on that can be found HERE. After thawing them out, Mrs. G seasoned them up with some Worchestire sauce and some Dizzy Pig Raising the Steaks Rub. Each patty weighed about 3.5oz pre-cooked (just in case you curious, most fast food burgers are 4oz, In-And-Out is 2.) Then we placed them back in the fridge to chill out. I’ve found that hamburgers tend to hold together better if you cook them from fridge temperature versus room temperature.  After spending a few minutes on a medium-high skillet, the patties were flipped, topped with some white Anmerican cheese and then a lid was placed on top to help the cheese melt. While I was cooking the patties, Mrs. G toasted the buns a bit under the broiler (See? We can use a stove and an oven just like regular folks 🙂 )

Half the sliders ready for topping

     Just because I was still feeling lazy, we opted for some paper plates. Doesn’t make the greatest presentation, but sometimes lazy trumps all. Served up with some tater chips as I forgot to pre-heat the oven for some tater tots and we were too hungry to wait.

Ready to grub

     Not the most fancy meal in the world, but sometimes you get a craving for a good burger and it can’t be ignored. Think I’m finally getting over my burnout, gonna fire up the Egg tonight. Maybe some stir-fry? Maybe some kind of seafood? You’ll just have to wait and see.

BTW….sorry for the picture quality. The battery for our good camera died over the weekend and didn’t charge in time, so we had to rely on our back-up. Really need to get a backup battery for that camera.

First Attempt @ Home Ground Hamburgers

Home Ground Hamburgers

 I’ve been dying to use my meat grinder ever since I got it for Christmas, but things have been busy around here and I just haven’t had the time. When Mrs. G told me yesterday that she wanted a burger for dinner, I knew it was on! Time to break out the grinder and get to grinding!

Kitchener Grinder

 This is the meat grinder I got. I do believe it was purchased at Northern Tools, but I may be wrong. Not the biggest and fastest or most powerful, but for my needs, I figure it will work just fine. (and it did!)

So why would a person want to grind their own meat? There are many good reasons. You have no idea what you are getting when you buy store-bought ground chuck. Was the meat from a lower grade animal? Was it old or sub par? How much fat is in there? And what cuts went into it? By grinding your own meat, you can select the cuts of beef you use and the grade. You can also make sure that it is done in a safe manner and that there is no bacteria present. You can determine how much fat you use. And you can add your own seasoning and grind them with the meat.

4.42 lbs of beefy goodness

For my first attempt at grinding my own burgers, I was going to go simple and just use chuck. I selected a nice 3.34 lb roast and was about to head up to the register to make my purchase, when a nice skirt steak caught my eye. I guess I’m not good at keeping things simple as that 1.08 lb skirt steak jumped into my basket. Not sure how it would affect the flavor, but figured why not?

I went home and cut up my meat into about 1″ cubes so that it would fit down the neck of the grinder with ease. I was then going to simply season it with salt and pepper, but once again, I couldn’t leave well enough alone and some garlic powder, onion powder and Dizzy Pig Cow Lick made it onto the meat before I put it into the freezer for 30 minutes (along with the blades and internal parts of the grinder).

Reading up on grinding meat, I learned that heat is your enemy and you want to do everything you can to keep the process cool. You want to put your meat into the freezer for about 30 minutes before grinding it, because if it gets warm, the fat starts to melt and will not grind well. Freezing the parts of the grinder also help keep the fat and meat from warming up and melting. Not to mention, keeping the meat cool helps prevent the growth of bacteria. So after about 30 minutes, I was ready to start grinding.

It is not easy to take a picture with one hand while trying to grind meat with the other. Can you believe I got this on the first shot?

 After I finished grinding up the meat, I weighed it out and divided it up into about 10.5 oz packages (two 1/3lb patties per package) and froze them for burgers later on down the road, while leaving enough out to make two burgers for dinner.

Burgers on the Egg at 500F

 I don’t usually make my patties so thin and wide across (who am I kidding? I don’t usually make the patties, that usually Mrs. G’s job), but when I got home I realized that the artisanal buns I got were kinda big. I fired up the Egg to 500F and cooked them for about 4 minutes a side and dinner was ready to be served.

Ready to eat

 I fixed up my burger with bacon, lettuce, tomato, pickles, white American cheese, mustard, mayo and ketchup (yup, I do all three and I don’t really care what you think) and served it up with some tots. Love me the tots.

All in all, this was a great cook. I finally got to break out the grinder and it was a lot easier to use than I feared (now I can’t wait to try my hand at some sausage). Although the burger was pretty tasty, the 75% chuck to 25% skirt steak may not have been the best combo for the perfect burger. I can’t wait to try my hand at grinding in some other cuts and see what I can come up with. Maybe brisket, or short ribs or even ox tail next time…..