Super Bowl: Margaritas
Triple Pepper Chicken: Sichuan-style

Burgers: Dry-aged


Also check out my new, less expensive approach to dry-aged burgers here (click me).

The inspiration...

One of our recent semi-regular meals at Blue Smoke led to meeting a friend at Landmarc in the Time Warner building, where yet another burger was ordered, and critiqued.  Having just had the Blue Smoke burger a few hours prior, I wasn't all that hungry, but forced down half a burger.  I do this, for you.  While I didn't think the burger was off-the-charts fantastic, I did detect some minerally flavors, flavors that I'd associate with dry-aged beef.  This is not to say that I think Landmarc is using dry-aged beef for their burgers, but, it did plant the idea in my head that I should seek out someone who does...

I (and pretty much everyone) know that Peter Luger serves an awesome burger a lunch, made from scraps of their dry-aged beef.  It was a burger without peers for a very long time.  Eventually came Minetta Tavern (well, it was around for a very long time too, but only recently reborn, and now known for its burgers) with their burgers  made the LaFrieda "Black Label" beef, which has that dry-aged beef that I'm on about.  Wanting nothing to do with trying to get into Minetta Tavern (even the t:e organization doesn't have that kind of pull), I figured I'd give it a whirl at home.  For a second time (my first attempt some years ago didn't work out too good).

The meat...


The first question was:  what blend?  LaFrieda as the luxury of making whatever blend they damn well please, and Minetta can tell them exactly what they want.  Reports vary, but most suggest brisket, skirt, and rib or strip going into the Black Label.  For me, making 2 burgers, I'm pretty much stuck with whatever Fairway happens to have, and beyond that, I'm not buying 3 or 4 dry-aged steaks for a special blend, just for two burgers.  But enough about me.


I landed on a sexy-looking rib steak (dry-aged), and a couple of short ribs to blend in. The rib steak was broken down into several parts:  the eye, the outer deckle part, some nice stuff near the bone, and the pure fat.  I weighed each component, and came up with what I thought would be a blend a bit more fatty than 80/20.  I also added some short rib for an additional flavor component. 

<mini-rant>You'll hear people go on about how an 80/20 blend is "the best".  Those people are foolish.  Why isn't 75/25 "the best"?  70/30?  Too juicy for you?  Don't be ridiculous.  Fat is good.  And my intention was to add plenty of it.  Besides, the funky flavors of the dry-aging would be most pronounced on the outlying edge of the steak, where a lot of that good fat lives.</mini-rant>

The grinding...


1/4 inch, double grind. 

Here's the first grind.  To my mind, that fat isn't integrated enough.


Here's the second grind.  Niiiiice.


The burgers were formed into 8 ounces patties.  6 or 7 oh-zees is my norm, but I wanted these to make a statement.  Plus, I wasn't about to throw out any of this meat.

The cooking... 


During our visit to Landmarc, we watched the grill guy cook the burgers.  They cook for a ridiculously long time on the grill.  That thing must not be very hot.  Some research on the Minetta Tavern burger suggested that the burger is cooked at something less than blazingly hot heat as well.  And it's helped along with some clarified butter.  I can't see anything wrong with that approach.  The slower, lower, cooking should give the fat more time to approach I've been taking with steaks recently, and the topic for another post.  So, I went with a medium heat, and clarified butter, and, of course, salt.  I salt my meat until guests look at me and say "what are you doing?!?!?"  Ironically, if you'll allow the misuse of that word, it was Marc Murphy (Landmarc's owner/chef) who got me on that kick, when I read a quote from him in a NYT article.

"You want to get to the point with the salt where your relatives are looking at you and saying, 'What are you doing?' You want to create a crust. You want to create flavor."  - Marc Murphy

Hells yeah you do.

The resting...



I let the burgers rest on a wire rack, something I normally don't go out of my way to do, toasted some gutted Eli's brioche (from Fairway), and waited patiently.  

The eating...


The verdict...

This burger had some of the minerally notes I was hoping for, and was, quite frankly, really good.  Really good.  I mean look at that thing and tell me that it doesn't look like it was really good.  I'm crappin' you negative here.

I did notice that there wasn't a whole lot of juice pouring out of it.  I think I'll be adding more fat next time, or, maybe a bit of butter right in the middle of the burger.  And perhaps more importantly, I'm going to ask the butcher at Fairway for a dry-aged steak that hasn't been trimmed of all of its funk.  That funk is going right in the thing next time.

I should add...

I should add that french fries cooked on one of those Silpat things work out great.  Thanks to iamnotachef for the tip.


I should also add...

I should also add that this was a very expensive experiment, and will likely not be repeated any time soon.  It was good while it lasted.


But wait a second...

What if I just ask the butcher to sell me the scraps from the dry-aged beef, and then I can mix it with the regular cheap stuff?  I feel another, somewhat less expensive experiment in my future; my work on this subject is, clearly, not yet done... (Update: I've done just me)