Another Saturday has come and with it another opportunity to grind hamburgers.
Aunt Ann sent out a text to Steve and I this morning which read: “It’s Saturday. The meat grinder is just sitting there ….. “. She was happily surprised to find out that Steve and I were already thick in the plans for another Saturday burger grind session.
This weeks contenders:
#1 The Fat Kid Blend: 75% Chuck / 25% Maple Bacon
#2 The Kenji Blue Label Burger: Sirloin / Brisket / Ox-tail – Yes that’s right ….. ox-tail.
#3 The Steve Special: 70% Lean Brisket / 30% Bacon
#4 The Morbidly Obese Fat Kid: 50% Sirloin / 50% Bacon
Aside from the Cook’s Illustrated book we have found a couple of good inspirational sites that address burger blends and techniques. For anyone serious about getting into home ground burgers I recommend looking at “The Complete Guide to Burger Blends” on the First We Feast website, and also the Serious Eats website where you can find posts about their Burger Lab and specifically J. Kenji Lopez-Alt’s ‘Blue Label Burger’ recipe that contains ox-tail.
The ox-tail was unbelievably hard to work with. It probably took Steve the greater part of 20 minutes to get 5-6 good ounces of trimmed meat away from the gristle and bone.
While Steve was prepping the Blue Label blend I ground the Chuck/Bacon blend. Bacon has been an obvious winner in all the blends it’s been in. It only takes 2-3 slices of Bacon per pound of meat to get a perfect fat ratio and Bacon flavor profile. Some recipes recommend using only bacon ‘trimmings’ which is just the fat but we have found using the whole untrimmed strip works well.
The 50:50 Sirloin/Bacon mix was a let-down …. with the high amount of Bacon in the mix the burgers just crumble on the grill. I also didn’t think the higher amount of Bacon produced a superior bacon flavor to our regular 25% Bacon blends.
In the end the Blue Label Burger turned out to be excellent. The ox-tail mix had a wonderful beefy flavor combined with the Brisket and Sirloin but was deemed too much trouble due to the amount of time it takes to debone and trim. Over the last few weeks of burger grinding the Brisket/Bacon blend, the Dry Aged NY Strip blend, and the Cook’s Illustrated blends have been my favorites.
We paired the burgers with my Beer of the Month club box as well as Steve’s special Elderflower/tonic water mixed drink
The recipe as well as I can remember is 1 part St. Germain Elderflower liqueur mixed with 4 parts tonic water and a squeeze of Lemon.
– JB –