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My burgers are crumbling to pieces!

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  • Guttenberg
    Club Member
    • Oct 2017
    • 53
    • Brooklyn, NY
    • Rec Tec 680
      Weber Kettle, Grill Grates
      Thermopen
      Fireboard

    My burgers are crumbling to pieces!

    so I’ve been experimenting with my meat grinder and making meathead’s steakhouse burgers. I’ve done 2 cooks in the last week and they’re delicious, but 2 of my 4 fell apart on the grill both times. It probably has to do with:

    1. The way I’m forming the patties. I’m trying to be as gentle as I can to keep the air pockets inside, but what do you all do to make sure that you seal the outside enough without over handling? I thought I was good this time, but those little crevices turned into a fault line on the grill

    2. Utensils. I’m starting 225 on my rec tec, flopping once, and then moving over to my gas grill at warp 11- about 750 degrees with the grill grates. I’m using a spatula for all of the flips, maybe tongs are the right move though

    3. The grates - I noticed a bunch of burger crumbs in the gutters of the grates...I could flip the grates to griddle mode which may help a little, but by the time I’m at the sear stage I think the damage is done

    what do yall think?
  • Murdy
    Club Member
    • May 2018
    • 462
    • North-Central Illinois

    #2
    How's the fat content? Are you adding enough trim? If it's too lean, there'll be nothing to hold it together. That's why meatloaf and meatball recipes usually call for adding an egg. Aim for about 20% fat.

    Comment


    • Guttenberg
      Guttenberg commented
      Editing a comment
      I'm about 30% fat. Using Short Ribs and Chuck and adding some trimmings too when it looks too lean
      Last edited by Guttenberg; May 17, 2019, 01:57 PM.
  • Mosca
    Charter Member
    • Oct 2014
    • 3779
    • PA
    • Large Big Green Egg, Weber Performer Deluxe, Weber Smokey Joe Silver, Maverick 732, DigiQ, and too much other stuff to mention.

    #3
    Why start at 225?

    My experience is that my burgers fall apart when I try to turn them before the first side sets. Put them over high heat, like 500, and when you see the edges start to brown, flip. Like 3-4 minutes.

    It is a mistake to treat burgers like steaks. Just my opinion.

    Comment


    • CaptainMike
      CaptainMike commented
      Editing a comment
      If I want a smokier burger I will run them in the pellet rig at 250 until an IT of 140 then sear on the gasser. It actually works very well.

    • Guttenberg
      Guttenberg commented
      Editing a comment
      CaptainMike - what's the final temp that you get? I'm guessing you ended up with 155-160?

      Mosca - I'll do this for a smaller burger, but not the big fatties in the steakhouse burger recipe. Aren't they raw in the middle?

    • Mosca
      Mosca commented
      Editing a comment
      I leave the bigger ones on a little longer.
  • Attjack
    Club Member
    • Aug 2017
    • 4565
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    #4
    Maybe sear first and finish on your smoker? Personally, I switched to Smashburger (on the flat side of GrillGrates) and probably won't be going back. I don't feel like a burger needs to be slow cooked at all.

    Comment


    • jfmorris
      jfmorris commented
      Editing a comment
      I second this. I've done a couple of "steak burger" cooks since learning the smash burger technique, but that was only because the wife came home with a package of preformed 1/2 pound burgers from Sam's Club. Even those I did on the upside down grill grates to get a good crust.

    • Henrik
      Henrik commented
      Editing a comment
      This is how I roll too. Smash is the way to go, I have a dedicated CI pan for this to use on my grill.
  • CaptainMike
    Club Member
    • Nov 2015
    • 2678
    • The Great State of Jefferson
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    #5
    I'm with Murdy on the fat content, plus, I don't flip when they're in the pellet grill as they are essentially baking. They might tighten up a bit if you leave them be. Probably wouldn't hurt to form them a little more, but keep on tweaking your technique, you'll get where you want to be.

    Comment

    • smokin fool
      Club Member
      • Apr 2019
      • 2215
      • Mississauga, Ont

      #6
      Some my not like this but since I don't know the fat content of my pre-packaged ground beef I make my patties on tin foil and start them on the BBQ, when I feel they are getting a crust I push them off the foil to the grill to finish crusting that side.
      High heat, one flip, bun....

      Comment

      • RichieB
        Club Member
        • Apr 2018
        • 1762
        • Western Mass

        #7
        I had that happen with too. I read and posted an article on grinding from F&W magazine. I think I took a picture of the article and posted it. One thing it recommended was a 2nd grind with the fine attachment. Once I did that and followed their direction no more crumbling burgers . I'll search for that post and send out the link.

        Comment


        • Attjack
          Attjack commented
          Editing a comment
          I agree and run my beef through 2 grinds.

        • Murdy
          Murdy commented
          Editing a comment
          I worked in a butcher shop about 25 years ago. If my memory serves, 2 grinds was pretty much standard practice. Gives you a chance to mix added fat in and ensure its distributed evenly between grinds.
      • RichieB
        Club Member
        • Apr 2018
        • 1762
        • Western Mass

        #8
        Couldn't find the post but here is the article.

        Click image for larger version

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        Comment


        • Guttenberg
          Guttenberg commented
          Editing a comment
          Thank you!
      • Potkettleblack
        Club Member
        • Jun 2016
        • 1970
        • Beautiful Downtown Berwyn
        • Grill: Grilla Original / Weber Genesis EP-330 / OK Joe Bronco Drum
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        #9
        Don't flip on the Trager. Serves no purpose.

        Also, maybe pack it a wee bit tighter.

        Comment

        • RonB
          Club Member
          • Apr 2016
          • 13509
          • Near Richmond VA
          • Weber Performer Deluxe
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          #10
          https://smile.amazon.com/Transglutam...-2-spons&psc=1

          Lots of good info above, so just ignore this post.

          Comment

          • Murdy
            Club Member
            • May 2018
            • 462
            • North-Central Illinois

            #11
            I tend to agree with those that are saying pack then a little tighter. Myself, I don't worry about overhandling my burger, especially if it's going straight to the grill after I handle it. As I understand it from working with sausage makers, the problem with pre-pattied burgers is that patty machines have a lot of moving parts, the friction increases the temperature of the meat, and that gets the bacteria active, which can affect, among other things, the taste. You are not going to accomplish this by pattying a little more aggressively with your hands. Also, if you cook immediately, any problem with bacteria will be quickly dealt with.

            This is my understanding. I am not a food scientist (in fact, I'm not a scientist at all, and prolly not that bright). If someone has some other thoughts/theories/explanations about this, I'd love to hear them.

            Comment

            • JeffJ
              Charter Member
              • Feb 2015
              • 2458
              • Michigan
              • Jeff

              #12
              I also like them to be loose and craggy. The downside is that they do sometimes fall apart a bit as a result. For me personally, the upside is worth it. I don't think they benefit from slow cooking. Cook 'em hot and fast and they should turn out great. I've found that the meat will bind a bit while it's cooking.

              Comment

              • JimLinebarger
                Club Member
                • Jun 2017
                • 907
                • Spokane Valley, Wa.
                • Grills/Smokers
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                  About me
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                #13
                I just came across this last night from J. Kenji López-Alt of SeriousEats from The Burger Show - Debunking Burger Myths with J. Kenji López-Alt. He talks about forming burgers.

                Comment


                • Polarbear777
                  Polarbear777 commented
                  Editing a comment
                  I do like his $1500 burner heating up his $7.00 pan :-)

                • JimLinebarger
                  JimLinebarger commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Polarbear777 Some take-aways from this could be that: there are virtues with different methods; that as you gain experience with said methods, the "new car smell" excitement gets tempered, thus allowing for learning new things; and, probably the most important, if you gots the money to spend, flash the bling but keep yourself grounded by still using the old with the new.

                • JimLinebarger
                  JimLinebarger commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Could it also be the perceived need to keep coming up with new things to stay relevant? I am wondering about cohesion of the burger and how many takes it took to get it on the bun. My smash burgers sometimes don't like to stay together.
              • Polarbear777
                Club Member
                • Sep 2016
                • 1886

                #14
                Had to try Kenji’s “new” method.

                Works well but impractical for more than one. The pan really needs to be cleaned and reheated between each. The first one, with the cheese was good. The second one got overdone.

                Final internal temp in each one was 140F. And they are super delicate and fall apart. Very tasty though.

                Also so I can’t imagine doing this indoors. The smoke and splatters are ferocious.

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                Comment


                • Polarbear777
                  Polarbear777 commented
                  Editing a comment
                  Forgot to mention it was 30% brisket 70% chuck ground at 1/4”.

                  Flavor was more two-note than orchestra. I think the fried aspect masks some of the flavor you get with more gentle browning. And of course this is tricky, the line between really good dark brown and charcoal is seconds.
                  Last edited by Polarbear777; May 20, 2019, 09:55 AM.

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              We've unfortunately had to cancel the 2021 Meat-Up in Memphis. We are rescheduling for tentatively March 18-21, 2022. Click here for more info: https://pitmaster.amazingribs.com/forum/announcements/misc/1014106-meat-up-in-memphis-2021-canceled
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