There has been a bit of chatter lately about burgers, which got me thinking that some of the fine folks around here (and the not-so-fine ones, too) might like to know how The Mighty Sumo makes the kickass burgers that the ladies love so much.
The boys like the burgers too, but I don’t want to get any of them in the sack.
I’ve briefly described this process before, but the second lockdown has left me with a lot of time on my hands, so I figured “what the hell”.
I’m going to be making a few assumptions here – that you either own, or have access to, some specialized equipment, namely a meat grinder, a digital scale, a perforated pan (or a colander) and a container large enough to hold 4 liters of liquid, plus a big ol’ chunk of beef. Oh, and that you have a familiarity with the metric system. If you don’t, here is a basic introduction: 1000 milliliters (ml) in 1 liter (L), 1000 grams (g) in 1 kilogram (kg). Also, fun fact – 1 L of water weighs exactly 1 kg.
So, the first thing you’re going to want to do is pick out a nice chunk of beef. I’d recommend chuck or sirloin, but whatever you can find will work. Some friends of mine, who are, not surprisingly, chefs and restaurant owners, sell burgers made exclusively from brisket. Those things are the best damn burgers in this town. Bar none. The SumoBurger definitely takes second place to those bad boys.
Anyhow, once you have your beef picked out, take that large container and add 2 L of water and 2 L of white vinegar. This is called a diluted acetic acid bath, and you’re going to submerge the beef in this for 30 seconds. Take it out and let it dry on a rack for 5 minutes. After that is done, submerge the beef again for another 30 seconds, then let it drip dry for another 5 minutes. So, to recap, that’s 2 dunks in the acid bath and a total of 10 minutes drying time.
When that’s done, take the beef and trim off any connective tissue and silverskin present on the beef. You can trim off some of the fat, but not too much, as you’re going to want roughly 20 percent fat content in the finished ground beef. So if you have 2 kg of meat, you’ll want about
200 400 g of fat. Easy as that. Once the beef is trimmed, slice it into strips; doesn’t much matter how thick the strips are, as long as they’ll fit into the feeding tube of your meat grinder. Sprinkle a good dose of salt over all of the beef strips, and I do mean a good dose. We’re giving the beef a basic salt cure. Curing meat helps to inhibit bacteria growth, so if any bacteria survived the acid wash, the salt will finish it off. Place the strips in the perforated pan, cover it with plastic wrap, and throw it in the fridge over night. Be advised that the salt is going to draw moisture out of the meat, so place another receptacle underneath so your fridge doesn’t get swamped by myoglobin.
Next, you’re going to throw all the parts of your meat grinder into the freezer until you’re ready to start grinding. This step is crucial, because you want the meat to come out of grinder as strands, not as mush. Fat melts easily, from minimal heat. Moving metal parts generate heat, so if the fat starts to melt during the grinding process, you gonna get mush. Mush is bad, mmkay?
Take a deep breath, we’re almost done. Set up your grinder with the coarse plate, and feed the strips through quickly, before they warm up too much. Once all of the meat is ground, feed it through the grinder a second time, to ensure that you get the fat mixed through as evenly as possible.
So, that’s that. The beef is ground, and now you can cook yourself a burger. At the restaurant, I weigh out 200 g balls of beef, and smash them when I start to cook them, but you do you. If you want the fast food experience, 114 g is 1/4 of a pound. Quarter pounder, y’all.
Now, I know what you’re thinking – this ain’t a burger, it’s just ground beef. And yes, you’re right. A burger needs a bun and fixin’s, and at the restaurant I make all that stuff from scratch, too, but buns and fixin’s are a post for another day.
And this is why I charge $20 for a burger. You’re welcome. 😉