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Burgers & Salting


Shalmanese
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As explained in Modernist Cuisine (3•235), salt extracts "the meat protein mycosin, which forms a strong, elastic gel when cooked. That may be desirable in sausage making, but it produces a rubbery burger."

This is why salting the meat during grinding, or salting the mixture overall, produces a tighter, more "sausage-like" burger -- and why it is advisable to salt only the outside of the burger just before (and during, and after) cooking.

Interesting, i remember Blumenthal presalting 6hours before grinding for his perfect burgers.

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Given the issues I just raised, I guess I'd hold someone tossing the word "science" around to a higher standard.

How well someone describes their materials and methods has little bearing on whether the experiment was scientific or not. Poor explanation makes the author a poor communcator, not a poor scientist.

Nor do the quality of the results determine if an experiment is scientific. Poor quality results, or results that are difficult to replicate, makes the experiment poor science, it does not disqualify the experiment as "science".

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Not claiming this is a scientific experiment but just passing along the results of my weekend burgers as I ended up doing something I had not intended to do.

I ground the burgers on Friday night (about 11PM) with the largest KA die and put a light amount of salt (.5% to meat weight) and pepper in right after the grind. Meat was 50% chuck\ 50% short ribs (USDA prime).

I formed patties as loosely as possible and then lightly salted the outside. My intention was to cook them for lunch at around 11AM on Saturday.

We ended up doing the burgers for dinner at around 7PM. So the total time salted was about 21 hours.

The burgers were perfect in every way. They stayed together very well on the grill. They were very tender and had a perfect level of seasoning throughout the patty. My wife said they were the best I had ever made.

Questions this brings up:

Is 21 hours of being salted any different than 12? That is, at what point has salt done all it will do?

Can perhaps the "sausage texture" issue be prevented by a very light touch when forming patties and a larger grind?

Edited by BadRabbit (log)
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Not claiming this is a scientific experiment but just passing along the results of my weekend burgers as I ended up doing something I had not intended to do.

I ground the burgers on Friday night (about 11PM) with the largest KA die and put a light amount of salt (.5% to meat weight) and pepper in right after the grind. Meat was 50% chuck\ 50% short ribs (USDA prime).

I formed patties as loosely as possible and then lightly salted the outside. My intention was to cook them for lunch at around 11AM on Saturday.

We ended up doing the burgers for dinner at around 7PM. So the total time salted was about 21 hours.

The burgers were perfect in every way. They stayed together very well on the grill. They were very tender and had a perfect level of seasoning throughout the patty. My wife said they were the best I had ever made.

Questions this brings up:

Is 21 hours of being salted any different than 12? That is, at what point has salt done all it will do?

Can perhaps the "sausage texture" issue be prevented by a very light touch when forming patties and a larger grind?

I think that the real course grind makes a great deal of good difference in the burgers.took several tries but I got a 3/8"inch for my #22 hand crank and it is much better than the smaller ones..

Bud

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Questions this brings up:

Is 21 hours of being salted any different than 12? That is, at what point has salt done all it will do?

Another Serious Eats article. This one deals with sausage, but it might help answer your question:

http://slice.seriouseats.com/archives/2011/09/the-pizza-lab-why-does-sausage-need-to-be-salty.html#continued

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I'm usually too lazy to clean my grinder, so I have my meat ground fresh at safeway, but even if I'd do it at home, salting it before grinding would not have occurred to me. I add s&p when I mix things up lightly, as with steak, I don't like too much "stuff" on it. I did grind beef myself a while ago and I did get tendon strings in the mix, I probably should have trimmed a bit better, so in my experience they can go through just fine. I used that meat for a pasta sauce.

Side question, does it make sense to use prime beef for burgers? Somebody above mentioned that's what they used. Is there really a difference in the burger? I select a nice piece of chuck for grinding and am very happy with the results, that's Safeway Select and am usually quite happy with their meat. Prime I only use for bbq and sous vide.

"And don't forget music - music in the kitchen is an essential ingredient!"

- Thomas Keller

Diablo Kitchen, my food blog

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"true" prime meat does make a big difference in burgers as it does with a steak.

I grew up in CA at Stanford. in the shopping center there is a fantastic meat place called Schaub's

http://www.yelp.com/biz/schaubs-meat-fish-and-poultry-palo-alto

they hang and age there own true prime meat. a secret very few people know is that their ground chuck is mostly trimmings from the prime they cut for the meat case. those burgers are the very best Ive ever made. and it was very reasonably priced. when grilled or saute'd the aroma was exactly that of a Prime Meat Restaurant. the age-ing affected both the fat and the beef.

however if you buy "prime" for burgers those burgers will be $$$$$

another way to get a similar flavor is to age meat in your refrigerator and then grind it your self. I used to do this with the cuisinart and aged top blade roasts:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flat_iron_steak

delicious!

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I'm usually too lazy to clean my grinder, so I have my meat ground fresh at safeway, but even if I'd do it at home, salting it before grinding would not have occurred to me. I add s&p when I mix things up lightly, as with steak, I don't like too much "stuff" on it. I did grind beef myself a while ago and I did get tendon strings in the mix, I probably should have trimmed a bit better, so in my experience they can go through just fine. I used that meat for a pasta sauce.

Side question, does it make sense to use prime beef for burgers? Somebody above mentioned that's what they used. Is there really a difference in the burger? I select a nice piece of chuck for grinding and am very happy with the results, that's Safeway Select and am usually quite happy with their meat. Prime I only use for bbq and sous vide.

I used Prime but burger meat is generally made from fairly inexpensive cuts so it's not that expensive. I've found that it produces a far superior burger to meat ground from Choice.

When I can get it, I buy trimmings from dry aged steaks from my butcher and add that into the grind (he charges me $5/lb for the trimmings off ribeyes that are $24/lb).

The meat I ground last weekend was about $9/lb average. A little expensive for hamburger meat but you can't buy 4 Quarter Pounders from McDonalds for $9 and I guarantee my burgers would kick Ronald's teeth in.

Edited by BadRabbit (log)
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