Andrew Zimmern's Go
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Andrew Zimmern's Go

Oct 30, 2023

Do you think how a person orders a hamburger means something about their personality? Adventurous spirits always try something new. Loyal friends consistently get a classic American cheeseburger, although we should be suspicious of someone who wants it well done with nothing on it. It's just a working theory.

Gone are the days of dry beef hockey pucks, pre-formed at the supermarket. Home cooks today have more options, varying the fat-to-meat ratio and using different proteins. Burgers are not just made of beef; they can be prepared by forming patties from veggies, ground poultry, fish, or legumes.

Convenient attachments for small appliances like a stand mixer allow home cooks to grind their meat, having more control over the quality of the burger. Ground meat is made from the pieces of beef trimmed off from the primal cut to make it more appealing. Grinding beef trimmings is an economical way of making burgers and reduces food waste, a real benefit during food inflation. Between 15% and 20% of a cow's carcass will go to the trimmings to grind. Like hot dogs and sausages, ground beef comprises boneless muscle or connective tissue that's finely ground to make it tender and more palatable.

Minnesota resident Andrew Zimmern discusses his love of burgers on a recent episode of his podcast, "Ask Me Anything." The celebrity chef shares how he makes this quintessential American dish, whether he has time to plan or throws the burgers together in a pinch.

Hamburgers are closely associated with American cuisine, especially between Memorial Day and Labor Day, when burger consumption is at its peak. Living in Minnesota, Zimmern takes advantage of the local bison farms and enjoys the locally butchered bison meat for burgers. Like beef, bison is red meat, rich in zinc and iron, and contains all nine essential amino acids the body requires. Bison tastes similar to beef and can be prepared in the same manner but is leaner, containing fewer calories per serving.

To make burgers, Zimmern saves the trim from other meals to make ground meat. When he's accumulated enough, he will process the meat for hamburgers using a grinding attachment for his stand mixer. When entertaining, Zimmern will buy chuck roast or beef clod, which comes from the shoulder, and grind the meat himself.

In a pinch, Zimmern heads to the supermarket and buys high-quality local bison. If he's in the mood for something a little more sinful and "beefier," he'll purchase inexpensive ground beef with a high fat-to-meat ratio of 25:75 and make smash burgers. The higher fat percentage means a more flavorful burger. Smash burgers are made by pressing the patty with a spatula or cast iron pan, increasing the surface area in contact with heat. Although the patties aren't as juicy as traditionally made hamburgers, smash burgers develop a delicious crust along the outside from the Maillard reaction.