First, hotels use fresh products in most cases, often of superior quality or blend. While consumers may commonly use ground round, hotels often bring in ground chuck sirloin or create unique blends, adding everything from prime cuts to Kobe brisket to short rib meat. Fat is not to be feared for these burgers as it lends flavor and moisture. The grind size also impacts the eating experience. Burger meat is usually a smaller grind, sometimes passed twice through the grinder, giving the patty a nice texture and holding together better than a more significant grind. Patties are typically no less than 6-8 ounces in size and are often cooked to temperature, which reduces the chances of overcooking them. Lastly, but importantly, chefs use the vast array of accouterments from buttery brioche buns and truffled aiolis to house-smoked bacon and imported cheese to elevate the burger-eating experience.
Of course, readers can have that same experience at home by experimenting with some of the tips and techniques used by hotels. At a minimum, when purchasing ground beef or patties, look for ground chuck or sirloin that is no less than 80-85% lean. For grinding, boneless short ribs or chuck roast is a good start. If you are a little more ambitious, create your signature grind! Experiment with a combination from the following cuts: brisket, chuck, boneless short ribs, sirloin, or bottom round. For example, you might try 60% bottom round, 20% boneless short rib, and 20% of the fatty portion of the brisket (the point). Cut the meat into long, slender pieces and pass through grinder or grinder attachment twice. Typically a home chef will use a grinder attachment, which is tricky.
Try these tips.
1. Place grinder parts in the freezer before use.
2. Par freeze meat and slice it into long, narrow strips using a boning or breaking knife. Strips should be no wider than the width of the grinder head attachment.
3. The colder, the better, but not frozen. Par freeze to help prevent the meat from mussing up in the grinder head; if this does happen, clean the grinder head, blades, and plates to remove any meat or fat.
4. Feed or lower the strips of meat into the top opening to allow the auger (worm) to pull the meat through your grinder.
5. Use the stomper to hold and push the meat against the auger.
These tips will help increase speed and reduce the chance that the beef does not get stuck in the grinder. Try not to over overpack or over-grind the meat.
Finally, I recommend portioning patties no less than 6 ounces. Do not overhandle or overmix; you want the ground patty to stay together, but overworking the fat into the lean can cause denser and dryer texture, resulting in a tougher burger patty.