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Cooking began for me as a 10-year old starved for sweets. My mother who is a wonderful cook at home and headed a restaurant for over 30 years on Palo Alto, California never purchased sweets from the grocery store nor can I say she was a very good baker, sorry Mom. It all began when I rode my bike to the grocery store, bought the necessary ingredients to make chocolate chip cookies, and let me say they were scrumptious because they were made with passion. Life is short, why would you ever eat bad food? Tonight I made my first ever gourmet Pub-Style beef burger by grinding my own burger meat. So thrilled at the tasty outcome I had to jump onto my laptop to share the details of my experience.
I own a KitchenAid stand mixer and had a five year curiosity to purchase the meat grinder attachment, but not until I saw an episode of 'Cook's Country Test Kitchen' on the proper meat grinding technique did I dive in to make my $50.00 purchase of the KitchenAid grinder attachment and research my plan for the perfect gourmet hamburger.
The meat was purchased from my local Whole Foods grocery store. My friendly, knowledgeable butcher made the choice for me of a Chateaubriand cut of Top Sirloin after giving him my specifications for great beef flavor with very little fat. This was a $39.99 per pound selection that I prayed would not disappoint but I was after the ultimate beefy, juicy, non-greasy gourmet burger that would rival the $26.00 Black Label burger at Minetta Tavern in New York City. Without further ado here is Tall Blonde's recipe for the ultimate gourmet pub-style burger for all you passionate home chefs out there.
Three pounds of Chateaubriand-cut Top Sirloin steaks (2 steaks) were dried of any excess juices with paper towels. Each steak was cut into 1/2-inch wide strips then cut into equal sized cubes and laid out onto a lined cookie sheet with a dusting of freshly cracked black pepper. The tray of cubed raw steak laid out in a single layer is placed in the freezer for 20 minutes to partially freeze. This partial freezing process makes the meat easier for the grinder to create an even texture. Do not exceed 20-25 minutes in the freezer.
While the meat is freezing, saute one coarsely chopped onion in a saute pan in butter and in a second pan saute 12-oz. of your favorite mushrooms. I like to add a little Brandy to my mushrooms at the end of their browning cycle (sorry for the blurry picture). A word of caution in the mushroom saute process, never add salt until they are done cooking. This will only force water out from this tasty fungus and you will find them to be boiling in their own juices, not browning.
Now for the big grind project-
Immediately remove partially frozen cubed Chateaubriand assuming you have assembled your meat grinder and is ready for immediate use. Follow the manufacturers instructions for the proper usage. Be sure to use a plunger other than your fingers to force the meat cubes down the chute, your fingers do not taste as good as the aged beef you bought. Be sure you have cut out any silver skin on the meat while cutting cubes as this will gum up the cutting blades and block further extrusion of meat. Furthermore, never salt meat in advance as the effect will be the same as salting the mushrooms. The meat will begin to shed excess juices and your meat will boil and not sear.
My 3 pound purchase made 7 medium sized patties. Preheat a cast iron skillet on medium-high heat. Pour 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoons of softened butter into the center of the pan. When the oil begins to shimmer, place one patty in the center of the pan, now is the time to add salt and freshly cracked black pepper. You should hear a nice searing sound, but quickly open your kitchen window wide as this will also create much smoke. Cook for only 2 minutes and turn over gently with a large spatula. You paid attention to these instructions and did not tightly pack the meat so it will cook much faster than ready made patties . If you want a nice slice of good quality cheddar cheese, add it now and remove from heat.
The residual heat from the cast iron pan is sufficient for finishing cooking. Remove from pan in one minute for a perfectly cooked, juicy, beefy, aromatic hamburger patty onto a butter toasted bun. I like to use a potato bread bun as this does not fall apart while eating and has a tender texture. A slathering of French Dijon mustard on both sides of the bun is a must and do not forget to pile on the yummy sweet browned onions and brandied mushrooms you have kept warm.
The first taste melted in my mouth., it was difficult to refrain from verbalizing m-m-m-m-m-m with every bite. A wonderful meat flavor was what I was after and this is what was achieved. You will be glad you did not over pack the patties as they were as delicate as a feather pillow; but not mushy because you ground the meat yourself. My husband who is my wonderful taste tester says "Minetta Tavern# you have met your match!" For $30.00 good quality steaks I made 7 great gourmet Pub-Style Burgers and perhaps I can never go back to buying ready-ground beef again.