A burger with bacon ground into the meat offers the same taste as a bacon cheeseburger, but without the bacon sliding off the burger when you take a bite. When you grind your own beef you have the choice of which cuts of meat to use, while store-bought ground beef may contain meat from thousands of cows. Freshly ground beef has a nice, loose texture that retains the juices when cooked, while pre-packaged beef gets compressed into the packaging, causing bruising and oxidation or browning of the meat.
Choosing Meat Combinations
Consider fat content, quality and cut of beef and bacon when choosing the best type of bacon to grind with the burger meat. If you are planning to use a less expensive cut of beef with a high fat content, lean, high quality bacon, such as center cut bacon, pairs well. Similarly, if the beef is lean with little fat, you can make up for the lack of fat by using bacon with a higher fat content. You can add some extra flavor to your burgers by using different flavored bacon, such as hickory-smoked, maple-cured or brown sugar cured bacon.
Preparing the Meat
Before you grind it, trim the beef for burgers to remove any silver skin, excess fat, cartilage or bones from the meat. Bear in mind you need at least 25 percent fat content for a juicy burger. Cut the beef into 1- to 1 1/2-inch cubes and cut the bacon into pieces about 1 to 1 1/2 inches long. Place the cubes of beef and bacon separately in a single layer on baking trays and place them in the freezer for 15 to 30 minutes to partially freeze the meat. Partially freezing the bacon and beef makes it easier for the bacon and beef to pass through the grinder without becoming stuck in the blade. You'll need about 1 part of bacon for every 3 parts of beef.
Grinding the Meat
The grinder parts and mixing bowls also benefit from a brief period in the freezer to make them cold, which keeps the meat cold as it passes through the grinder. Place the partially frozen beef and bacon in a mixing bowl and set the mixing bowl inside a larger bowl filled with ice. Mix the meat so the bacon is dispersed evenly throughout the beef, ensuring the bacon is spread evenly throughout the burgers. Add the cold meat to the grinder hopper and use the plunger tool to push it down through the grinding mechanism. Catch the ground meat in a mixing bowl beneath the grinder. Form the meat into loose patties with your hands, working the meat as little as possible to prevent dry, tough burgers.
Grinding vs. Buying
When you grind your own beef, you get to choose the quality of beef that goes into each bite. You can select a piece of beef that was cut from the whole cow. Store-bought ground beef is often over-processed so the resulting burger is tough and dry, but you can keep the burger loose and juicy if you grind your own beef.
- The Seattle Times: What a Grind, What a Hamburger! Says Nancy Leson
- Serious Eats: The Burger Lab: What's The Best Way To Grind Beef?
- Serious Eats: Equipment: How to Buy, Use, and Care for a Meat Grinder
- Oregon Live: Father's Day, the Secrets to Building a Better Burger
- My Pantry Shelf: Fresh Ground Bacon Burger with Homemade Bun
- Spoon Fork Bacon: 50/50 Burger
A former cake decorator and competitive horticulturist, Amelia Allonsy is most at home in the kitchen or with her hands in the dirt. She received her Bachelor's degree from West Virginia University. Her work has been published in the San Francisco Chronicle and on other websites.