In my search for the perfect burger, it is hard to beat Shake Shack and Five Guys, one, a NYC boutique shop with a few locations, the other, a national chain. Both have a solid commitment to freshness and quality ingredients. After trying many high end burgers from Shake Shack, Five Guys, In and Out, Smash Burger, Corner Bistro, and many other restaurants, I almost gave up. Their balance of flavor and texture was impossible to recreate at home, until now. A few weeks ago, I was discussing my dilemma with my mom and she mentioned she had a meat grinder, hidden in her cupboard that she would let me try out.
So after receiving this Hamilton Beach #1 meat grinder, from circa 1975, I knew that this old school workhorse was my ticket to taking down all these so called “perfect” burgers.
My ultimate favorite burger is from Shake Shack. But I live in NJ and they are hard to get to, so my other A+ is Five Guys. I hawked the Five Guys website. “Fresh ground chuck with an 80/20 ratio of meat to fat.” Duh, this didn’t help a bit. So I went to a FG’s and ordered a burger and talked to an employee. She was very nice, like most of their employees. I told them I was going to figure out their secret, but she said there is no secret. Very fresh ingredients, burgers are pressed thin in between two steak weights and wax paper and then cooked on a griddle (not a grill). No secret spices, not even salt. They control their own meat suppliers and bun makers. Again, barely any help at all. I do love the fact that FG’s use two thin patties and puts the cheese in the middle. Stops the cheese glue effect. Totally copying that.
Now, in this experiment, I try to keep everything consistent and just work with just the essentials for a side by side comparison. I am using a grill instead of a griddle. I have wide cast iron grates that give a nice sear and I like a little smoky flavor.
Fresh ground chuck (From a fresh whole steak)
Two patties per burger
Potato roll bun (Martin’s)
American cheese (From Deli counter)
Kosher salt & fresh ground pepper
(I am putting salt & pepper on the burger just before cooking because I love the taste.)
Talk to Chuck.
Prepping and grinding the meat.
I purchased a large beautiful chuck steak with about 20% fat. Cut it up into 1″ cubes and chilled it for 10 mins in the freezer while I also chilled the metal part of my grinder. I was told that this is essential to texture and keeping the fat cold (and raw meat safely cool).
I ground the meat at the onto my butcher pan at a constant pace.
I then collected the beautifully ground morsels and formed into thin patties. Any leftover meat was immediately bagged and put in the fridge.
I preheated my grill on medium high. Then put on salt and pepper on and grilled them (s&p side down), for 3 mins with the cover closed. I then put s&p on the top and flipped ‘em. Closed top for 3 more minutes. Added cheese, and then doubled them up.
A little squeeze of ketchup is all they needed.
WOW! Were they amazing!
So fresh and juicy. Perfect texture and flavor, definitely the best burger I’ve ever made!
Was it as good as Five Guys? Let’s just say it was an A+. As good as Shake Shack? Pretty damn close. I know that Shake Shack uses a blend of meats that have been reported to be 50% chuck, 25% short rib, and 25% brisket. Well, that is my next experiment. I just may need to have a party and invite a lot of people over to eat all these great burgers!