You wouldn’t think that ground beef would need it’s own blog post, would you? Well, it does.
Ground beef from feedlots (ie. the stuff you generally get in the conventional grocery store) is relatively forgiving. You can cook the heck out of it and it still tastes the same. Many a frying pan of taco seasoned beef or sloppy joes has sat on my stove for too long while I fussed with the dog, or chopped up condiments. Many a burger has been made and casually cooked into oblivion with very little attention being paid to it.
When we got our first delivery of our meat share from West Wind Acres in Charlton, I was excited to try the ground beef. I cooked it in my skillet with taco seasoning.. and walked away. It simmered for longer than it should have while I putzed around.
When we sat down to eat, I excitedly took my first bite, anticipating the amazing flavor I had been told about.
It was disgusting. No, really. After a little research, I learned that when grass fed beef is cooked for too long, it gets this horrid icky flavor. What a waste. Into the bin it went.
My next attempt was burgers. I figured, what better way to get the real flavor of the meat that to just salt and pepper and cook it up!
It totally worked! Delicious! Juicy! Burgers are now my favorite way to use grass fed ground beef.
Grass fed beef is generally leaner and without that sticky fat to hold it together, it may fall apart when trying to make patties. Drizzle in a little olive oil (maybe a teaspoon per pound) and very very gently mixed with your hands. DO NOT SQUISH.. just sort of massage it together. You could also add an egg to bind things together but I’ve found just a gentle massage and forming it into a ball before flattening into patties works just fine. Try to keep the meat as cold as possible while you work it. If you generally have warm hands, you can run them under cold water first to chill them out.
Pop the burger patties in the fridge while you heat up your grill. I have a three burner grill so I put two burners om high and one on low. The idea is to create “zones” so you can move your burgers to the cooler side when you need to. If you have only two burners, just turn one to high. When the grill is hot and the patties cold, it’s burger grilling time.
The idea here is to cook the burgers over super high heat for a few minutes, flip, cook for another few minutes and then move them to the low side of the grill. The super hot grate should, in theory, keep the burgers from sticking. I like the olive oil mister as a bit of insurance. Spray the burgers and then pop them, oil side down on the hottest part of your grill.
DO NOT MOVE THEM. Don’t poke them, don’t smash them.. just leave them alone for at least 2 minutes. Then you can flip. After two minutes on the other side, it’s time to shift them to the cooler part of your grill. Close the grill and cook them until they are done to your liking.
GRASS FED BURGER COOKING TIPS:
- Be Gentle. Massage your ground beef. Don’t squish or smash. Be kind. Pretend you are petting puppies or tickling babies or something.
- Add a little oil of your choosing before mixing to fatten the meat up. An egg would be fine too, but would change your texture.
- Go easy with the seasonings. You wanna add some chopped veggies? Okay fine, but keep the bits small or you risk things falling apart.
- Keep it cool. The colder the meat, the less likely you are to get a tough burger.
- Lightly form into a ball and flatten gently. You could also make a dent in the middle of the patty so the middle gets cooked a bit more evenly.
- Keep your patties refrigerated while the grill heats up.
- Consider a light coating of oil as extra non-stick insurance.
- Create zones in your grill so you have a hot side and a warm side.
- Cook fast and hot at first then, low and slow to finish.
- Don’t over cook. Seriously. Don’t.