So I thought I would try to make my own mince for burgers. I’ve had the electronic mincer for quite a while and still haven’t used it. Every time I’ve been to a shop intending to by meat for the mincer I have backed out because it seemed to work out so much more expensive. This time I thought it must be worth the extra effort so lets have a go. For my first attempt I decided that I would try to use the most accessible meat from a local supermarket. I hoped this would bring down the cost but also demonstrate what is possible to those who don’t normally shop at a butchers.
First of all I made my way to Morrisons. I often buy meat for the BBQ at Morrisons because it has a slightly larger selection than the other supermarkets. In this instance I wasn’t really sure what meat would be most suitable and the selection of beef products seemed limited. Having asked for some advice from the helpful members of the CountryWoodSmoke Facebook group I had a few suggestions to keep an eye out for. Some of the suggested cuts included ribeye, brisket, chuck, sirloin and more. However, most of those were either too expensive or unavailable. In the end I decided to try braising steak, which is sometimes chuck, and topside steak. The braising steak seemed relatively fatty to boost the all important fat content and the topside was considerably leaner. I understand this is an unconventional choice for making burgers but my primary motivation for choosing topside was the price. I really wanted to keep the cost down and already I knew this would cost considerably more than simply buying the prepackaged mince.
After getting the meat home I made sure I chilled it before going any further. Whenever I’ve seen people discuss mincing their own meat they mention placing the metal parts of the mincer into the freezer too. After a few hours it was time to get mincing. First I cubed the meat to make things easier. I was excited to see how well this worked but as soon as I had started mincing the meat I noticed that the texture was different. The mince seemed to be almost granular rather than coming out in strands. Probably great for sausage but it wasn’t what I’m used to for burgers. Nevertheless I had mince and I wasn’t about to let it go to waste because it looked a bit different.
My method for making burgers has changed in the last couple of years. For a while I was adding grated onion to the mix in an attempt to keep the burgers juicy. Now I am convinced the best way to make the perfect burger is to do nothing at all to it. Simply lift the mince and place straight into the press. No seasoning, no onion or anything else. Only season once the burger is on the grill. I formed the burgers and got them cooking. Unfortunately I was working and ended up having to cook these indoors but for the purposes of this test I didn’t really mind. The burgers held together pretty well and once it was ready I melted a slice of monterey jack cheese onto each burger.
The burgers were assembled in a brioche bun with bacon, home made burger sauce, fried onions and gherkins. The burgers definitely looked the part but honestly… something was missing. Predominantly flavour from the meat itself. There was no beefiness at all. My impression was that this was likely due to the quality and choice of meat. The texture was also different to what I’m used too. It was as though I had worked the mince too much and become almost crumbly.
The verdict – It wasn’t a bad burger. I think it certainly looks the part. To anybody else it might have tasted fantastic but I know it could be better. Next time I will make sure that I pick only the best cuts and really try to make the best burger possible. Spend a little more but it’s the only way I’m going to find out if making your own is really worth it. Until then… Have a go making your own mince if you can. At the very least make your own burgers with pre-packed mince. So much better than the pre-formed burgers. Let me know how it goes and if you have any tips please don’t hesitate to share them with me.
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Written by Tomos Newland-Jones @MrNewland66