Time to run with the BIG dogs and show your guests you Da Grill Master(ess). If there’s one way to instantly up your burger game and join the big leagues, it’s to grind your own meat, something we had yet to try. We instinctively knew, doing so would offer superior texture with more loosely packed patties and a more open, juice-trapping structure. So a recent opportunity presented itself to run with the pack…
All three kids were in town to celebrate The Hubs, and his middle son Dan’s, dual birthdays and we wanted a simple, yet special, outdoor BBQ. Remembering our KitchenAid meat grinder attachment (which we hadn’t used at all since we got it years ago) I suggested making our own burgers, and Russ was immediately on board. He got most of these tips from Serious Eats chef J. Kenji López-Alt.
For starters, we bought a little over 4.5 pounds of chuck roast from the Farmer’s Market which made 9 healthy-sized patties. Even though one family member doesn’t eat red meat and chose a turkey burger, and another is vegan and had a “Beyond Meat” plant-based burger, all but one of the Thick and Juicy Home-Ground Grilled Cheeseburgers were consumed between the remaining five of us.
Instead of seasoning with just salt and pepper, I added Adobo Seco, a savory, all-purpose spice mixture, into the meat as Russ was grinding it and before the second pass through the grinder. Why grind twice? According to J. Kenji, as fat and juices render out, they simply leak away and fall onto the hot coals (or grates) below, leaving the meat dry. With a finer grind, on the other hand, the fat is emulsified into the lean more thoroughly, ensuring that it stays trapped in place even as it begins to liquefy.
We kept the twice-ground meat chilled in a metal bowl until the grill was heating and then the patties were formed. In the end, while the burgers were delicious, we thought they were slightly too-well done for our preferences because they cooked faster than expected. Note-to-self for next time: check the burger temp sooner… Dessert was a homemade strawberry pie with graham cracker crust and homemade whipped cream topping, alas, no birthday candles…
Note: For even better flavor, use a combination of short rib, brisket, and sirloin in place of the ground chuck which we plan on doing real soon; the summer hasn’t even started!
Home-Ground Grilled Cheeseburgers
- 4 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1-inch cubes (makes about 8 large patties)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 8 slices of cheese
- 8 hamburger buns
- Toppings as desired
- To grind with a meat grinder: Place grinding shaft, feed tube, plate, die, and screw of a meat grinder into the freezer. Spread beef chunks evenly in a single layer on a large plate or rimmed baking sheet. Place in freezer and freeze until starting to get firm around edges but still malleable, about 20 minutes.
- Set up meat grinder with 3/8ths inch plate. Grind meat into a cold bowl. Working quickly, grind meat again using 1/4-inch plate. If grinder or meat begins to get too warm during grinding process, return to freezer for 10 minutes before continuing to grind.
- Form beef into eight patties about 1/2-inch wider than the burger buns with a slight depression in the center to account for bulging as they cook. Season generously with salt and pepper and refrigerate until ready to cook.
- Use your gas grill, or alternatively light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, spread evenly over one side of coal grate. Alternatively, set half the burners of a gas grill to high heat. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate.
- Place burgers directly over hot coals, cover with vents open, and cook, turning once, until well charred and center of burgers register 110°F on an instant read thermometer, about 5 minutes.
(Notice that little nib of a burger hanging out by itself? That was for The Mr. to try because he couldn’t wait for all of them to be done 😉 )
- Place cheese on top of burgers and continue to cook until cheese is melted and burgers register 125°F for medium rare or 135°F for medium, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Transfer burgers to a large plate.
- Toast buns over center of grill until golden brown and warmed through. Top burgers as desired, place in buns, and serve.
- Let your guests choose the burger of their choice and add their own toppings.