Sous Vide Grass-fed Beef Hamburger

Sous Vide Grass-fed Beef Hamburger

After my food truck foray a few weeks ago, where I had THE best burger I'd ever had, courtesy of the Patty Wagon food truck at the Sunland / Tujunga Food truck gathering, I set my sites on trying to duplicate an amazing burger at home.

I used to make burgers at home every Monday night after band rehearsal; it was my fast, go-to meal that I could change up every time I made it.   And then the pink slime fiasco happened. After reading it up on the why's and how's, I realized I couldn't do it anymore. Even if I'd eaten it unknowingly for years before, I just couldn't do it once I had seen the facts.  And, as we all know, there is no unseeing the seen. I'm not going to lie, the missing Monday night burgers left a hole in my life. And I'm not even all that great at cooking them. And then the food truck experience happened,  and for the first time, I tried grass fed beef. It was THE best burger I had ever eaten. Sure, part of it was the festive atmosphere; the joy of a foodie in the middle of a food truck gathering, hanging out with foodie friends, and the fact that I hadn't eaten all day and was STARVING. But it was still an AMAZING burger.  And so, my love of burgers was reignited. I purchased a pound of grass-fed beef, courtesy of Trader Joe's, and decided to combine the high quality beef with my favorite cooking technique, the sous vide.  Why? For a few reasons. The first, the obvious convenience. Throw it in, go sew or do website stuff, come back, make salad, then pull out the burgers and give them a quick turn in a stove-top pan. But secondly, and maybe more importantly, sous viding offers a way to pasteurize meat at lower, consistent temperatures.  So I can cook pre-ground beef to medium rare and not worry about e-coli or any other issues that happen with store-ground meat. That seemed like the best of both worlds for me, until I invest in my own meat grinder.

First, I shaped the meat into patties, and seasoned them. I really wanted to do 1/2 lb patties, just to piss off my vegetarian friends, but they were unweildly. So I settled for two larger patties, and one sissy patty.

Grass fed beef, shaped into patties, and seasoned with salt, pepper, coriander, and whatever else is in my current generic spice grinder.

Then I sealed them in vacuum sealed bags; I let the vacuum run until the patties were gently hugged by the bag, and then I switched to seal. I didn't want to over-vacuum and smash the patties, or pull out their natural juices. That's right, aforementioned vegetarians, I said juices. MEAT juices.

That is a bag full of happy. Destined for a leisurely bath at 134 degrees F.  Target time: 2-4 hours.  For a steak, the range is 1-4 hours; I find 1 hour to be enough to bring it to temp, but not enough to make it sous vide tender.  But in this case, with the ground beef, I was interested in pasteurization, or the time and temperature combination at which the majority of germs and bacteria are killed.  A quick consultation with a food chart showed this to be 2 hours, and so I set the timer, then wandered off. Not to sew, sadly, but to work on school stuff. Boo.

Several hours later, I returned to the kitchen, and pulled the burgers out of the bath.  After being treated to the sous vide, meat is not the most attractive, as it is missing the appealing maillard reaction that browns the meat and makes it savory and happy.

I cut it out of the bag, and dried it off, to prepare it for the frying pan.  After a minute per side over high heat, I plated it, and topped it with sauteed onions and mushrooms, and swiss cheese.  My ever-present salad went on the side to round out the plate.

That is a LOT of happy on a plate. Look how smothered that burger is in cheesy, mushroomy, oniony goodness.

But how did it taste??

I cut it open, and it was perfectly medium-rare from top to bottom, a hallmark of sous vide cooking.

The texture was unbelievably tender. The only bummer about this experiment is that I did a first run with both grass-fed beef AND sous vide burgers, so I don't now how big a role either of those factors played in the end results. But this burger was, for whatever reason, AMAZING. Tender, perfectly cooked, and easy. I am sold on sous vide burgers, and will definitely continue experimenting with grass feed beef.

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Comments

Julie
LOL 1/2 lb burger didn't piss me off at all =) even the mention of meat juices didn't bother me. I'm wondering though, does the sous vide give the aroma of a burger cooking? Even as a vegetarian, I do like the scent of one. Not enough to make me eat one however. oh & when the pink slime info came out, it did make me feel relieved to know I hadn'r unknowingly eaten it! So cheers to your grass fed cow meat!
Shannon
haha, this is why you are one of my favorite vegetarians. :o) No, there is no smells from the sous vide during the cooking process, which is a little hard to get used to. Once you open the vacuum sealed bag, you can smell the food, but it's still not the same. It's especially strange with the long cooking foods, like the 72 hour short ribs; it just seems so weird the ribs are cooking away for 3 days because there is no smell, no emanating heat, nothing but a digital light showing on the front of the machine.

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