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Best Burger

A best burger tucked inside a burger bun, topped with mushrooms, cheese, and caramelized onion.
There’s no reason something should be cooked a certain way just because that’s the way it’s usually done. When I think back on all those burgers I formed by hand, slapping ground beef thoughtlessly back and forth, back and forth, I weep with shame. Then I brine pork belly in those hot, bitter tears.
Anthony Myint and Karen Leibowitz

Prep 50 mins
Chill 2 d 1 hr
Total 2 d 2 hrs
Entrees
American
16 burgers
610 kcal

Equipment

  • Meat grinder

Ingredients 

  • 4 1/2 pounds chuck untrimmed
  • 3 1/2 pounds brisket untrimmed
  • 3 pounds short ribs* untrimmed
  • 4 tablespoons Morton's kosher salt OR 5 tablespoons of Diamond kosher salt
  • Hamburger buns
  • Cheese if desired
  • Pickles homemade or store bought, if desired
  • Condiments of your choice homemade or storebought

Directions 

  • Using a sharp knife, remove any "silver skin" and any tough, gristly parts from the chuck, the brisket, and the short ribs. Reserve the skin and gristle for making beef stock or toss them in the trash.
  • Then slice off any large chunks of visible fat from the different cuts of meat. But don't get too obsessive—some fat ought to remain on the meat. Reserve the trimmed fat.
  • Cut the chuck, brisket, and short ribs into 1-inch chunks, keeping the cuts of meat separate. Weigh the meat, still keeping the kinds separate. You should end up with a total of about 7 pounds.
  • Place the meat on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet, still keeping the three kinds separate. Salt the meat, using a ratio of 1/2 cup of salt for 7 pounds of meat. (If you have more than 7 pounds of meat, use a little more salt; if you have less than 7 pounds, use a little less salt. You need just under a tablespoon of kosher salt per pound of beef.)
  • Refrigerate the meat, uncovered, for 2 days. Cover and refrigerate the reserved fat.
  • When you're ready to grind the meat, cut 1 1/2 pounds of the reserved fat into 1/2-inch chunks. (If you have more than 7 pounds of meat, use a little more fat; if you have less than 7 pounds of meat, use a little less fat.)
  • Set up your meat grinder, whether it's the old-fashioned sort that clamps onto your counter or an attachment for your food processor or stand mixer.
  • Grind the 1 1/2 pounds of cubed fat with the brisket and the short ribs and let it fall into a large bowl. Set the bowl off to the side.
  • Now fashion a wide landing strip of sorts from plastic wrap on your work surface beneath your grinder, using multiple overlapping layers of plastic wrap.
  • Pass the mixture of ground brisket and short ribs and fat through the grinder again, this time adding the chuck. As the ground meat emerges from the grinder, carefully let the columns of ground meat fall alongside one another on the plastic wrap in a parallel formation.
  • Stack the meat columns to create a single large column of ground meat that's about 5 inches in diameter. Gently wrap the ground meat in plastic wrap, pressing firmly enough so the column holds together but not so firmly that you compress it too much.
  • Refrigerate the ground meat for at least an hour and up to a couple of days. (Or you can freeze the meat for up to 3 months.)
  • When you're ready to cook the burgers, unwrap the ground meat and, using a sharp knife, slice it into as many burger patties as you like, each 3/4 to 1 inch thick.
  • Melt some of the reserved fat on a griddle or in a large, preferably cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. At the same time, heat another large but dry griddle or skillet over medium heat. Sear each patty, without budging it, until a crust forms, 60 to 90 seconds.
  • Using a thin metal spatula, flip the patties and carefully sear the other side for 45 to 60 seconds. Move the patties to the ungreased skillet over medium heat to finish cooking to the desired doneness and to allow some of the grease to drain. The exact amount of time will depend on how you like your burger.
  • Move the burgers to a warm place for another 2 minutes to rest and drain, such as a wire cooling rack set on a rimmed baking sheet in a low oven.

    TESTER TIP: Never grill these burgers. The fat and moisture will drip right out. Searing the burgers in a generous amount of fat creates that all-important moisture-sealing crust that ensures rich, juicy, flavorful burgers.

  • Assemble your burger however you darn well please with pickles and any condiments.

Notes

*What are short ribs?

In between the shoulders (which becomes chuck) and the ribcage of a cow, there are another five ribs that are too short to make a decent steak. They're generally classified as part of the chuck, which means that they're tougher but have a lot of rich, beefy flavor. Since they come from the space between the chuck and the rib, they retain the best parts of both—short ribs will have some good marbling like a ribeye but also the flavor of chuck.