The staple of any good cookout, whether it’s part of a celebration – like the 4th of July, a summer birthday, or just a June Saturday — is the cheeseburger.
Cooking a burger is one of the most simple things you can do. Using grass-fed beef is a way to upgrade your summer burgers, but it can also add a degree of difficulty to the task if you don’t know what you’re doing.
The difference in grass-fed beef
Our in-house chef Yankel Polak says that, “Grass-fed burgers can have more developed flavors, almost as though it’s been dry-aged,” Chef Yankel says.
Grass-fed meat has numerous benefits. It is high-quality beef that has been pasture-raised, never given antibiotics or added hormones, and was humanely-raise. Grass-fed beef also a good source of Omega-3’s, vitamins, and minerals.
Grass-fed beef in general cooks about 30 percent faster than grain-fed. Chef Yankel says, “Obviously there’s a lot of room for variety and error here, but the general rule of thumb is: Don’t walk away while it’s cooking.”
How to cook a burger the right way
A good rule of thumb for a 6-ounce burger is to cook it for about 4 minutes per side for medium-rare. Although you’d be tempted to do so, the less you flip them, the more they retain their juiciness and flavor. “Grass-fed, grass-finished beef tends to be a bit dryer and chewier after 130°F, or medium. So you want to cook your burgers to medium-rare, which is an internal temperature of 120°F.”
(The one time to break this rule is Chef Yankel’s special ButcherBox Bacon Burger recipe below.)
Lastly, the best grilled burgers are given some time to rest after cooking. “The longer it rests, the better it will taste, the juicier it will be, the more vibrant the color inside,” says Chef Yankel. For the best possible flavor and texture, always allow ButcherBox grass-fed burgers to rest in a warm place for 8 to 10 minutes after cooking before cutting or serving.
The biggest mistake people make when cooking grass-fed burgers is that they overcook the meat. “Meat continues to cook after removing it from the heat,” Chef Yankel says.
You can just grab some ground beef and throw it on the grill, but then you’d be missing out on the best burger you could possibly make. Cooking great grass-fed burgers takes a bit more attention to detail.
Grill Temps and Cooking Burgers
Enough about how great the meat is, here’s how to take grass-fed ground beef and turn it into something magical.
First, make sure to preheat the grill. If you are using an open flame, let the heat source burn down which will minimize flare-ups, something more common with grass-fed beef.
Chef Yankel says that you should always start with an extremely hot surface. “I like to set up two zones when grilling so I can sear on the hottest part and move it to the lower temp to finish,” he suggests. “That initial blast of heat is crucial to get the flavorful caramelized crust without overcooking the inside.” This can be done on both gas grills and charcoal grills.
On a gas grill, set the burner temperatures at different heats and cook burgers on the cooler side once seared. On a charcoal grill, you can get the perfect burger by moving the hot charcoals to one section and sear on high heat and finish on medium heat or the cooler part.
If you are cooking inside, on a cast iron skillet, for example, you will need to follow a few different directions.
In terms of add-ins. Most chefs agree that the more simple you keep it the better the burger ends up. The best thing to add to a grass-fed burger is salt and pepper.
“Once you start mixing vegetables — like onions — and BBQ sauce into your ground beef you’re going to experience changes in cooking time and texture, and you’ll lose that amazing beefy flavor,” Yankel explained.
Although, if you do want some extra flavor, try adding other dry ingredients like garlic powder or onion powder. If you do add Worcestershire sauce or a marinade or dressing, do so sparingly.
No All-American burger is complete without adding some slices of cheese. Whether it is American cheese, cheddar, or something more exotic, there are differing opinions on how to add cheese to get the perfect burger. While you can just throw cheese slices right on the burger after flipping it over, Chris Thompson over at Gawker suggests putting the cheese on the top of the hamburger bun, and then putting the meat onto the cheese, melting the cheese into the bread and burger. You can then add burger toppings to the bottom of the burger.
The great thing is that the result is a fantastic, healthy, and mouth-watering burger.
Here is one of our favorite burger recipes…with a twist. Chef Yankel’s ButcherBox Bacon Burger mixes some bacon with our grass-fed ground beef for a burger that will shock the tastebuds of your guests at your next barbecue.
- 1 pkg ButcherBox Ground Beef
- 1 pkg ButcherBox Bacon
- 1 Tbsp freshly ground black pepper
- 2 ea avocados peeled and halved
- 4-6 ea burger buns
- 4-6 ea lettuce leaves
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- 2 Tbsp chipotle paste
- 1 Tbsp lime juice
- 1 c mayonnaise
- 1 tsp olive oil extra virgin
- 1 tsp cracked black pepper
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- Bring burgers and bacon to room temperature.
- Preheat grill to high heat.
- Place defrosted bacon in freezer for 15 minutes and then finely chop or pulse in a food processor.
- Mix pepper, bacon and ground beef together and form into approximately 4-6 patties.
- For medium-rare, grill for 4 minutes per side, while rotating 90° every 2 minutes. Keep your meat moving to ensure that it cooks evenly. Remove from grill when meat thermometer inserted into patty reads 120°F.*
- Rest for at least 8 minutes.
- Rub avocado with olive oil and season with salt. Grill face-down for 2 minutes, with a 90° turn after 1 minute. Set aside, and slice when cool.
- Combine pepper, kosher salt, mayo, lime juice and chipotle paste and mix well.
- Stack your burger, avocado slices and chipotle mayo and enjoy!
- *If flare-ups occur due to the cooking bacon, move burger off flame briefly while flame dies down, then continue cooking.