- Choose a specific cut. Meat with generic labels like “ground beef” or “hamburger” can come from any part of the cow or from trimmings, so they can be inconsistent in flavor and texture. Ground meat labeled “chuck,” “sirloin” or another cut must contain at least 50 percent meat from that cut; it’s usually higher quality. If possible, go for organic, grass-fed beef; we love the flavor.
- Check the color. Don’t worry if packaged ground beef is bright red in some areas and brown or purplish in others. This is a harmless reaction of the meat’s surface to the air. However, if all of the meat in a package is gray, check the date — it may be past its prime.
- Skip the preformed patties. They’re often shaped by machines, which don’t handle the meat gently. Plus, you can’t always control the quality of the beef.
- Ask for a custom grind. Have a butcher grind up your favorite cut, like brisket or short ribs, and mix it with ground chuck. (Some supermarket butchers won’t do this, but it’s worth asking!) If you have a meat grinder, try it yourself at home.
Now that you know the golden rules of burger buying, dress up your patties with these fun topping combos like the Kids’-Menu Burger pictured above.
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