Yesterday, the 4th of July, is officially the most popular barbecue day in America. More hot dogs, burgers, sausages, and other slabs of meat were cooked on grills across the nation than on any other day.
The staple of any good cookout, whether it’s part of a celebration of America’s birthday or otherwise, is the cheeseburger.
Cooking a burger is one of the most simple things you can do; that is, unless you decide to make it more challenging than it needs to be and screw it up. Using grass-fed beef can add a bit more difficulty to the task if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Our ButcherBox grass-fed ground beef has a meat-to-fat ratio of 80 percent meat to 20 percent fat, which is just the perfect amount of fat to ensure that the meat stays rich and juicy, and maintains a robust flavor.
Our in-house chef Yankel Polak says that, first and foremost, grass-fed burgers are better because of their flavor. “Grass-fed has a significantly more developed flavor, almost as though its been dry aged,” Yankel says.
As we’ve mentioned previously, the health benefits of grass-fed meat are numerous. Not only are you getting meat that hasn’t been fattened with grains on a feedlot but has actually eaten grass its entire life — which is more humane as well — but it is considered more nutritious according to many people far more knowledgeable about eating healthy than us.
As our friend Liz Wolfe of Real Food Liz explained the benefits of our grass-fed beef, “Their meat is healthier for us…more conjugated linoleic acid (a super interesting and health-promoting substance) and a better ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 fats.”
Enough about how great the meat is, here’s how to take grass-fed ground beef and turn it into something magical.
First, make sure to preheat the grill. If you are using an open flame, let the heat source burn down which will minimize flare-ups, something more common with grass-fed beef.
Yankel says that you should always start with an extremely hot surface. “I like to set up two zones when grilling so I can sear on the hottest part and move it to the lower temp to finish,” Yankel suggests. “That initial blast of heat is crucial to get the flavorful caramelized crust without overcooking the inside.”
In terms of add-ins. Most chefs agree that the more simple you keep it the better the burger ends up. The best thing to add to a grass-fed burger is salt and pepper. “Once you start mixing vegetables and bbq sauce into your ground beef you’re going to experience changes in cooking time and texture and you’ll lose that amazing beefy flavor,” Yankel explained.
Grass fed beef in general cooks about 30 percent faster than grain fed. Chef Yankel says, “Obviously there’s a lot of room for variety and error here but the general rule of thumb should be ‘don’t walk away while its cooking’.”
A good rule of thumb for a 6 oz. burger is to cook it for about 4 minutes for medium-rare. Although you’d be tempted to do so, the less you flip them the more they retain their juiciness and flavor. “Grass finished tends to be a bit dryer and chewier after 130 degrees, or medium. So you definitely want to cook your burgers to medium rare. (The one time to break this rule would be our upcoming “Bacon Celebration” recipe where we mix a whole bunch of chopped bacon into the ground beef for burgers. Then you can cook away, and they stay moist and juicy due to the additional incorporated fat content.)
For the best possible flavor and texture always allow ButcherBox grass-fed beef to rest in a warm place 8 to 10 minutes after cooking before cutting or serving.
Lastly, the best burgers are given some time to rest after cooking. “The longer it rests, the better it will taste, the juicier it will be, the more vibrant the color inside,” says Yankel.
The biggest mistake people make when cooking grass-fed burgers is that they overcook the meat. “Meat continues to cook after removing it from the heat,” as Chef Yankel says.
And you thought all you had to do was grab some ground beef and throw it on the grill. Cooking great grass-fed burgers takes a lot more attention to detail than you might have imagined.
The great thing is that the end result is an amazing, healthy burger.