Ground Beef Basics and How to Cook a Killer Burger

February 8, 2017

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Ground beef may be the most versatile beef product available.  It can be used for tacos, spaghetti, shepherd's pie, meatloaf, and many more options- including a juicy, delectable, burger.


Before going into how to make a killer burger, I want to talk about some ground beef basics.  

First, one should know the difference between ground beef and hamburger when shopping.  Ground beef is only made up of skeletal muscles (no organ meat is incorporated).  The fat content in ground beef is only from the fat on the meat trimmings.  In contrast, hamburger has fat added to it from other parts of the animal (sometimes other animals) to reach the desired fat content.  Ground beef is generally leaner, and more healthy than hamburger.


Next, the care and handling of ground beef is very important!  Frozen ground beef is good for 12 months, or a little longer.  Once you defrost ground beef- it must be cooked! Do not refreeze.  Ground beef can be defrosted two ways:


       1) In the refrigerator

       2) In the microwave


It takes a couple of days for a 2 lb. package of ground beef to defrost in the fridge. Place on a plate to catch any blood.  Once defrosted, refrigerated ground beef should be used within 2 days for safety and quality.  Ground beef is more perishable than roasts or steaks.



If using the microwave to defrost, cook right away.  Part of the meat starts to cook in the microwave, and this process should not be stopped for safety and quality purposes.  


Always handle raw meat with care.  Wash hands before and after.  Do not contaminate other foods with the juices from the raw meat.  Wash all surfaces with warm soapy water that come in contact with the raw meat.  E. Coli is a danger if ground beef is not handled correctly.


Last, but definitely not least, ground beef NEEDS to be cooked to a certain degree of doneness.  Meatballs, meatloaf, bugers, etc... need to have an internal temperature of at least 160 degrees (medium). I prefer cooking to an internal temperature of 170 degrees (well done) when it comes to ground beef. I also highly recommend ordering well done burgers when out at restaurants due to the fact thatnyou don't know how the meat was handled prior.  ALL ground beef is a potential carrier of bacteria (including E. Coli) that must be killed through cooking before consumption.  My uncle is a USDA meat inspector, and is a stickler on thoroughly cooking your ground beef!


Now, on to how to make a KILLER burger!  I love burgers, and experiment with many different variations.  Mushroom swiss, BBQ, jalapeno, and good old plain cheeseburger are among my favorites.  You can basically do anything to jazz up your burger, but there are some essentials to making your pattie amazing!


Two ways that we have found to increase the flavor in our burgers is to cook them in a skillet, or on tin foil when grilling.  The tin foil prevents all of the liquids from dripping through, and allows your burger to retain much more moisture.  The same goes for cooking in a skillet.  The best type of skillet you could possibly use is cast iron.  A seasoned cast iron skillet really takes all of your cooking up a notch in my opinion.


If you are not worried about adding a couple of extra calories- add some butter into your skillet, or on the tinfoil to cook your hamburgers in. Adding onion and garlic into the pan or foil with a little butter- again increases flavor.


Add on, or in,any other or your favorites to have a burger that is almost good as steak (Many times I prefer a good burger)!!







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McCafferty Ranch Beef

409  Beckstrom Road

Belt, Montana



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