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The Perfect Burger Status - So close but where's the juice?

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  • Hugh
    Former Member
    • Jun 2017
    • 357

    The Perfect Burger Status - So close but where's the juice?

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    I've been messing with burgers for 3 years trying to find the one I like. I'm happy with everything but the juiciness at this point.

    First, what is working and my technique.

    The meat - a grocery chain here (Sobey's) carries a 5lb tube of ground chuck. I've had it in the past and I like its flavor and consistency (course) so I went back to this meat yesterday. I simply sliced off 7.7 ounces (that was the first one so the next two were sized the same). Loosely formed, almost no handling.

    The prep - none. I cooked them as is and spiced prior to sear.

    The cook - 2 burgers low and slow on kettle/SnS at around 250 pit temp. Didn't time it. Probe in each burger till 140 degrees.

    The sear - mixed up coals and added 15 more fully ashed coals to basket. That sear was snortin' hot. I brushed copious amounts of melted butter to each side of the burger before searing and added kosher salt and ground pepper to each side. I seared for exactly 1 minute and got a nice mahogany crust.

    The cheese/pasteurization hold over - Topped each burger with a spreadable Brie cheese. Put the 2 burgers in my oven which was preheated to 170 and held them there for 15 minutes.

    The bun - slather melted butter on both sides of the fresh Brioche buns and toasted them on the kettle.

    The results - Turns out I am a simple cheese burger guy. No fixings needed. I really liked the flavor. I don't think I need to change anything to make it a 'better burger", it would just be different. But there was no juice! I'm stumped. You can see that the burger was pink. I don't want to go any pinker. There was not a drop of juice in that burger. When I squeezed it....nothing. The bun is flat on both top and bottom from my treatment during butter/toasting.

    I cooked a 'control' burger just for a compare at the same time. I sous vide the 3rd burger into at 140 degrees with no salt or spice. The joule app says I needed 1/2 an hour. The anova app said I needed an hour. I went 1 hour and 15 minutes. I seared this one at 1 minute per side when the other two were pasteurized in the oven and followed the same procedures for everything else.

    The Sous Vide burger had a band of red which is too rare for me. Having said that, it was no juicier (like none) than the other two burgers. Again...stumped. When Meathead talks about cooking to 160 and serving with a bowl to hold the juice, I'm lost. What is more frustrating is that I could swear I had created a juicy burger last summer using the same meat and using Sous Vide. I'll have to go thru my notes.

    When I look at the photo above, the burger doesn't look as pink as I remember it. I would consider that I may have over cooked it or lost juice in the hold step IF I didn't have the same level of juice in the SV burger. I don't see how I could be over searing it either since the SV burger was still red in the middle when I was done.

    I'm going to assume the beef I'm getting is the culprit. Its just too lean. My theory is that it is a Canadian thing. The demand here is for healthy, not juicy. Next step is I'm going to go get some old fashioned regular grind (mystery meat) and see if I get a juicier burger. If so, I'm going to figure out a way to grind up some beef fat and add it to this chuck burger till I get what I want. Then I'll play around with grinding my own chuck and brisket....it's a tough job .

  • Attjack
    Club Member
    • Aug 2017
    • 4548
    • Primo XL
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      Weber Q2200

      Blackstone Pizza Oven

      Portable propane burners (3)
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    Meat in a tube is too compacted. It needs to be loose. Buy it on styrofoam instead or better yet grind your own.


    • Mr. Bones
      Charter Member
      • Sep 2016
      • 10007
      • Kansas Territory
      • Grills / Smokers

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        Weber "C" Code 18.5" WSM '81 ($50 CL) 8-0!!!
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      I'd haveta agree that it sounds to me like th beef is th culprit.
      In my experience, th chub chuck still has great flavour, but is rather dry.
      I generally buy th ground chuck outta th butcher's case, an take great pains to not overwork it when I make my patties up.
      I git juicy results.
      Like yerself, an Attjack , I'm presently shiftin t'wards more focus on grindin my own mixtures.


      • fuzzydaddy
        Charter Member
        • Nov 2014
        • 4973
        • Winchester TN
        • Hardware
          Blackstone 36” Griddle.
          Slow 'N Sear Deluxe Kamado & Kettle Grill.
          Slow 'N Sear (1.0, Deluxe, 2.0).
          DnG Pans/Racks, Easy Spin Grates, Elevated Cooking Grates.
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          Joule, Instant Accu Slim.
          Maverick XR-50 [my favorite].
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          Consumables / Favorites
          KBB (short cooks), Weber (long cooks), B&B Hardwood Briquettes when I'm out of Weber.
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          SnS Grills salt free rubs: Not Just for Beef & Rocky’s Rub.
          MeatChurch Holy Cow. MMD, BBBR, S&G, Herbs de Provence, SPG.

        20% fat is what I use. I’ve never been happy with less.


        • RonB
          Club Member
          • Apr 2016
          • 13510
          • Near Richmond VA
          • Weber Performer Deluxe
            Pizza insert
            Smokenator 1000
            Cookshack Smokette Elite
            2 Thermapens
            lots of probes.

          You did not mention the meat to fat ratio. For me, the minimum is 80/20. 75/25 is better, but hard to find unless you grind your own.

          Kenji has a meatball recipe where he recommends adding powdered gelatin to the meat to improve juiciness. I don't remember the details, but that might be something to explore.


          • Polarbear777
            Club Member
            • Sep 2016
            • 1883

            Agree with the above. It was probably too lean. I like 25% fat. Also could have been too compacted. If it is formed more loosely there is room for juice to hang out between the fibers/hunks instead of leaving.

            Hard to really pack loosely unless it’s just been ground. I use the kitchen aid grinder on chuck and add some brisket trimmed fat for my thick burger mix.

            For thin burgers all this is less critical but I can tell you that 90% lean sucks for those also. Try to get at least 20% fat.


            • HouseHomey
              HouseHomey commented
              Editing a comment
          • HouseHomey
            Club Member
            • May 2016
            • 5554
            • Huntington Beach, Ca. Surf City USA.
            • Equipment
              Primo Oval xl

              Slow n Sear (two)
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              Dutch ovens
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              "Baby Girl" The cat

              Erik S.

            I would still eat that.
            comment/question IMHO:

            1) You over cooked it

            2) I don’t get the SV as a “Control.”

            3) Dont waste your money, grind your own.

            4) it’s apples and dragon fruit as you can’t compare theirs to yours. What’s in theirs could be all chuck but no fat. You never get the same grind.

            5) Use your money to learn your grind game rather than spend it on theirs.

            6) The “Sear” is overrated.

            7) In this order:
            a) How will the burger be used and served?
            b) Type of burger desired? Fixings?
            c) Your grind-fat%, size of grind and packing etc.
            d) Your Cook-desired temp etc...
            e) Your sear- front or rear or not.

            Dont get me wrong. I love a good sear but it matters not if the food is not well cooked and appropriate.

            Thats MHO anyway.
            I hope this helps.


            • CaptainMike
              CaptainMike commented
              Editing a comment
              The BurgerMiester has spoken!

            • FireMan
              FireMan commented
              Editing a comment
              His avatar speaks!

              Also second the no tube crowd.

            • fzxdoc
              fzxdoc commented
              Editing a comment
              I double dog ditto the Commander's ( CaptainMike 's ) and FireMan 's comments. I want to make burgers like HouseHomey does. Every. Single. Day.

          • Uncle Bob
            Club Member
            • Feb 2019
            • 497
            • Salado, Tx
            • Summerset TRL44 gas grill and side sear
              RecTec 590 Stampede
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              Cajun Grill Preaux
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              Camp Chef Somerset IV 4 burner propane stove
              Camp Chef FTG600
              OT QOMOTOP 23-inch Gas Griddle
              Oklahoma Joe's Bronco
              Oklahoma Joe's Bronco Pro
              Oklahoma Joe's Judge
              Golden's Cast Iron Grill
              Ooni Koda 16

            And additional commentary on fat/meat ratio. I try to grind my own whenever possible and I weigh the fat and beef to hit as close to 80/20 as I can. Sometimes for convenience we buy 80/20 at the store, pre-packaged, usually identified as chuck which is what I do for myself (though some trimmings end up in there too). I never get as juicy of an outcome with the store bought 80/20 as with my own grind. I'm convinced the difference is the store butchers are using their calibrated eyeball to measure the ratio and that in reality it's less than 20% fat.


            • shify
              Club Member
              • Jun 2017
              • 538
              • Westchester County, NY

              The meat looks far too packed together and also over cooked.

              The meat eat looks real condensed and sausage like.

              Plus sounds like it was way overcooked. It a was a fairly thin (1/2inch thick?) burger that you cooked to 140, seared for 1 minute and then put in an oven for 15 minutes? Not sure why you took all those steps but that is a recipe for a hockey puck.


              • smokin fool
                Club Member
                • Apr 2019
                • 2238
                • Mississauga, Ont

                Saw an article on the internet the other day where top chefs claim putting ice in the center of the patty then grilling makes the juiciest burgers.
                Hmmm, call me,....skeptical....but I guess anything is possible.
                Agree with your Canadian thing most grocery chains now only carry lean/extra lean ground beef.
                One thing I've started doing is after I'm done my smoking I open up the dampers on our Keg. When the temp hit 600, on go my burgers 4-5 mins flip 4-5 mins done. Always moist with that smokey charcoal taste.


                • FireMan
                  FireMan commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Try butter instead of ice.

                • ILikePigButts
                  ILikePigButts commented
                  Editing a comment
                  how about frozen butter!
              • Hugh
                Former Member
                • Jun 2017
                • 357

                Man there are some good insights here. Thanks all. HouseHomey , very helpful. I have no idea what my fat content is when I buy a tube. Time for me to get serious about grinding my own. I've been screwing around with this for years.

                My thinking on the 'control' was that I know the SV cooked it to 140 and I didn't over cook it. If I did over cook the ones I did on the grill but got the same results as the one I sous vide, then I'm thinking it has to be the fat content.

                You have really challenged my prejudice on searing! As I ponder it, I see your point. We need it on a steak, but do we need it on a burger which is covered by a bun and covered in cheese? And if I have to choose between sear and juice, I'm going with juice. I will try my next burger without the sear.

                To your other questions HouseHomey - I am just cooking this for myself. I've given up on trying to create a juicy well done burger for my guests. If they want a pasteurized juicy pink one they can have one my way but other wise they will get a hockey puck. I plan on repeating the approach/technique/fixings from now on as per this cook. The only changes I will make are removing the sear and grinding my own meat to play with the fat content.

                Mr. Bones and Attjack - very good point about the tube squeezing the meat. Confirms again I need to grind my own.


                • HouseHomey
                  HouseHomey commented
                  Editing a comment
                  When you have a perfect burger and a Great sear it’s next level great. I am happy you took my point.
              • Henrik
                Founding Member - Moderator Emeritus
                • Jul 2014
                • 4497
                • Stockholm, Sweden

                Love this thread. This is why the Pitmaster Club rocks. No flames, no fuzz, just a science'y discussion, and everyone is open and willing to share and learn. Love it.


                • FireMan
                  FireMan commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Sciency? I like it.
              • BRic
                Club Member
                • Mar 2017
                • 372
                • Winnipeg Mb. Canada
                • Napoleon bbq
                  ​​​​​​Broil King Keg
                  ​​​​Hunsaker Smoker
                  Pit Barrel Cooker
                  Maverick ET-733 Wireless Thermometer
                  ThermoPop Temp
                  2 - ThermoWorks DOTs Temps
                  UUNI infrared Thermometer gun
                  LEM 1182 Meat Grinder
                  Cabela`s Sausage Stuffer
                  Grill Grates

                  Red River Rumble BBQ and Grill
                  Reserve Grand Champions Backyard
                  2018 Morrris Manitoba

                Hugh , buy yourself a grinder and start grinding your own . We have ground our own a few times and it turns out pretty good ,
                that way you know whats going into your ground meat .
                We go to four butcher shops that grind a good mix . We get a 80-20 ground chuck Angus . In Wpg . we have some good butcher shops .


                • BRic
                  Club Member
                  • Mar 2017
                  • 372
                  • Winnipeg Mb. Canada
                  • Napoleon bbq
                    ​​​​​​Broil King Keg
                    ​​​​Hunsaker Smoker
                    Pit Barrel Cooker
                    Maverick ET-733 Wireless Thermometer
                    ThermoPop Temp
                    2 - ThermoWorks DOTs Temps
                    UUNI infrared Thermometer gun
                    LEM 1182 Meat Grinder
                    Cabela`s Sausage Stuffer
                    Grill Grates

                    Red River Rumble BBQ and Grill
                    Reserve Grand Champions Backyard
                    2018 Morrris Manitoba

                  Quest For The Perfect Burger


                  Very good infor. on making burgers .


                  • Dick Anderson
                    Club Member
                    • Oct 2017
                    • 102
                    • Northern Sonoma County, California

                    Do those of you who grind your own, one pass or two? If you grind more than once, do you start coarse? I'm going to get a brisket just to grind. Is that enough fat, say 25%?

                    Thanks @BBric, my exact questions!
                    Last edited by Dick Anderson; April 27, 2019, 02:11 PM.


                    • RonB
                      RonB commented
                      Editing a comment
                      One coarse pass for me. If possible, weigh the fat and meat separately to get the percentages right. If using the point for your grind, you will have to guesstimate.

                    • BRic
                      BRic commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Ground brisket will be 20% + fat.
                      My nephew and I have done two passes , coarse grind .

                    • Sweaty Paul
                      Sweaty Paul commented
                      Editing a comment
                      I do two passes on coarse. Just saw a cool video on burgers from J Kenji Lopez-Alt



                  2021 Meat-Up In Memphis Canceled

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