While you can easily get a quality burger just using plain old chuck, sometimes creating your own custom blend can be just the thing to take your burger from average to amazing. Real Deal Meats, in South Edmonton, suggests mixing 1/3 each of boneless blade, boneless short rib and brisket for a delectable burger.
Kyle Iseke of D’Arcy’s Meat Market says that, while some people may not be able to tell the difference, those who are serious about their burgers might find that creating custom mixes takes their burgers to a whole new level. “Especially through the summer months, [customers] will order a custom blend,” says Iseke. “They’ll say, I’d like 33 per cent brisket, 33 per cent ribeye, and 33 per cent shortrib. We can pull it out of the showcase, grind it up, and they go home and make the burger.”
Another tip? Ask the butcher about the coarseness of the grind. “It’s pretty common for people in the know to get a coarser ground meat,” Iseke says. “It gives a little bit of a different mouthfeel. Very few people know you can choose that, but it’s a good way to enhance the quality of your burger.”
Most butchers will have frozen patties that are prepared in-house. Just make sure to cook them from frozen if that’s the direction you take. “A lot of people want to thaw them out and then put them on the grill, but if you cook them from frozen, it doesn’t take long and it’s easier to handle,” says Corey Meyer of Acme Meat Market.
“A lot of people, they have this misconception that a proper rib is fall-off-the-bone,” says MEAT’s chef, Nathan McLaughlin. “When you have a fall-off-the-bone rib, that’s actually quite overcooked. They’re not supposed to stick to the bone, but they’re supposed to have a little bit of chew.”
Forget the standard, flavourless hot dogs. If you’re looking to serve up something in a bun, go with sausage – there are plenty of fantastic options, whether you’re looking for a simple all-beef bratwurst or something truly unusual. Make sure you’re using indirect heat – place your sausage on the top rack, or only light one side of the grill. “Too high of heat will cause the fat inside the sausages to render, leading to a blown up casing and a wild barbecue flare-up,” Steve Furgiuele of Fuge Fine Meat says. Check the meat with a digital instant-read thermometer and, as you would with steak, allow the sausage to rest briefly before you serve it up.
Looking to add a little extra flavour? Furgiuele recommends adding wood chips into the mix – “create a little pan with tin foil and add soaked wood chips, placing a cover on top with holes in it for smoke to escape. Place this on the lit element of the barbecue. This will slowly burn the chips, adding the desired smoke flavour.”
Planning a special dinner and want something that will really impress? Experts will steer you towards prime rib or beef tenderloin, dry-aged Wagyu steak, or a Frenched cut of lamb.
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