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After Action Review - Great American Steakhouse Burgers

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    After Action Review - Great American Steakhouse Burgers

    Hello Pit,

    Last weekend I decided to make burgers. Good ones. So I went and tried my hand at Meathead's steakhouse burger recipe.


    Here's what happened instead.

    I went out and bought 3 pounds of 80% lean ground chuck meat from the grocery store - at least, the package said it was 3 pounds. My digital scale said it was only 2. I had chores to do so around lunchtime I mixed together the seasonings, sprinkled them all over, then gently formed the meat into 8oz balls and put them back in the fridge. I say "gently" because the book specifically said not to compress the ground meat, but allow the air spaces to remain. You can probably see where this is going already.

    When it came time to cook I lit up a chimney full of KBB - on my chimney, that's about 60 briquets. Once they were gray I poured them into my Weber Kettle and shoved them all over to one side. I closed the lid, waited a few minutes, and then scrubbed the surface of the grate.

    Having gently (there's that word again!) formed the beef balls into discs, I put them on the indirect side and closed the lid. That was easier said than done as they did not hold together. I put two wood chunks atop the coals at the same time. Every few minutes I inserted my instant-read thermo to check the temperature, and I left a probe in the indirect side. It said the temp on that side was between 375-400. After about 30 minutes the internal temp got up to about 140 so I moved the burgers over to the direct side. I was shooting for 160, but with flipping them every minute, the internal temp was hardly moving at all. It was getting late and after about 10 minutes I figured they had cooked long enough to be safe so I pulled them; or rather, what was left of them.

    Click image for larger version  Name:	Burgers.jpg Views:	0 Size:	2.75 MB ID:	987335

    The kids (3 and 1) didn't touch their little pieces, and my wife didn't finish hers. I took the one that was most crumbled for myself and piled it all on a bun. With mayo and ketchup it was tolerable. It had a nice smoke flavor but not much juice.

    At least nobody got sick. So, fellow pitmasters, I'm sure you've been playing Burger Faux Pas Bingo while reading this story - how can I make sure this not only doesn't happen again, but I actually turn out delicious burgers next time?
    Last edited by Terp Tom; February 9, 2021, 11:16 AM.

    Wow. Sorry that happened. One thing I see, and I always do with burgers, is put them on a special flat type of grate called a grill topper. It’s very hard to turn hamburger patties on the regular grate that comes with your grill. No matter how I form my patties, they’ve always got stuck on the standard grates with a big space between the tines. Grill grates, if you have them work good.
    Attached Files
    Last edited by Panhead John; February 9, 2021, 11:04 AM.


    • smokin fool
      smokin fool commented
      Editing a comment
      Good point, I'm cheap and start mine on tin foil, slide them off when I get a bottom crust started.

    I have a couple of comments, having made many "steak house" style burgers, but not necessarily following that recipe.

    First - you just gotta use some level of compression to form a patty, otherwise, as you found, it absolutely won't stick together. I think Meathead is just saying not to over-handle the meat, and don't over-compress with a hamburger press, as the heat of your hands starts melting the fat and changing the consistency of the burger. When I buy 5-6 pound packs of ground chuck, I tend to form that into patties and then freeze them in vacuum bags for future burgers cooks.

    Second - my personal take is that you don't need much if any wood smoke when doing a burger. There is such a thing as too smokey, and folks don't expect it with a burger. Note that Meathead said to use some wood chips - you used chunks, and I am sure that provided a lot of smoke while the burgers were on the indirect side.

    Anyway, my family's favorite burgers are the "Wimpy" aka diner style smash burger recipe on the free side, but this weekend, I thawed out some frozen patties and cooked them up in a cast iron skillet without the smashing part, just applying the seasoning (salt and pepper) on each side as it went in the skillet. They were extremely good and satisfying.

    The take away from my rambling is: you need more pressure than what you used to form a patty, and don't use as much if any wood when doing burgers - certainly not wood chunks. Also, I do my burgers direct, moving them in and out of the hot zone to avoid flareups, when doing them on a charcoal grill. They don't take long even indirect with a chimney of lit charcoal down there!


    • Mosca
      Mosca commented
      Editing a comment
      I don’t use any wood with my burgers, either.

    First: the market shorted you by 33%? I’d question everything else about the purchase, including the quality of the meat.

    I wasn’t there, that makes it hard to judge. But I’d say, too gentle. And you might need better ground beef. This recipe is a reverse sear. The indirect should be around 250. The hot side should be about 500. If you did them at 350-400, you baked them.

    Even something as simple as steakhouse burgers takes practice. It’s easy to overthink this stuff, I do it all the time. It’s meat. Cook it. At any juncture where you aren’t sure what to do, remember that. The good to that is... lots of burgers!

    I hope this helps.
    Last edited by Mosca; February 9, 2021, 10:25 AM.


    • Terp Tom
      Terp Tom commented
      Editing a comment
      I used my digital scale to apportion the meat. I was able to make three 8oz patties plus two 4oz patties for the kids - that's two pounds total. It never occurred to me to weigh the whole package before I got started.

    • Mosca
      Mosca commented
      Editing a comment
      I wouldn’t have thought to, either.

    • Terp Tom
      Terp Tom commented
      Editing a comment
      Having tried it, steakhouse burgers don't seem so simple. Gotta get the indirect side below 250 but the direct side above 500, want the patties thick and juicy but still cooked through . . . Shoulda used the SnS maybe? I didn't because I wanted more real estate on the direct zone, which meant using a lot of coal (driving up the temperature!) because it lacked the attenuating effect of the SnS. Perhaps I really am over-thinking it.
      Last edited by Terp Tom; February 9, 2021, 11:28 AM.

    Sorry for your frustration. It looks to me that you flipped your burgers too many times. I grind my own meat for burgers and try not to over handle the meat to keep it light, tender and juicy. But I only flip my burgers twice for the reason I see pictured on your grill. Meat is muscle and muscles contract when heated.


      One more thing - don't forget to oil the grate each time you flip. If the meat sticks to the grate there is a higher chance you will destroy the burger.

      You can oil the burger, but depending on the oil you use, it might add an unwanted flavor.


      • Panhead John
        Panhead John commented
        Editing a comment
        Yes sir. When I use my grill topper for burgers or whatever, I spray it first with Crisco Grill Master. It’s like Pam, but made for grills. It works very good at keeping my food from sticking.

      About a week ago I got the meat grinding attachment for my KA and ground a 4lb chuck roast to make the same burgers. I was a little concerned with how loose the grind was compared to store bought ground chuck. I followed MH's recipe as well, except for the seasonings. I formed 1/3lb balls and then shaped them into patties. They turned out perfect. I did them low and slow to about an IT of 128 without flipping. Then moved to the gasser for searing/finishing.

      As already said, you still need some pressure when forming for everything to hold together. I also didn't have a problem with sticking. I think that is probably due to low and slow for the first part of the cook.

      Formed patties:

      Click image for larger version  Name:	Screenshot_20210209-101341.png Views:	27 Size:	390.1 KB ID:	987379

      Right before searing on my gasser with GGs:

      Click image for larger version  Name:	Screenshot_20210209-101355.png Views:	26 Size:	303.9 KB ID:	987380
      Last edited by Rod; February 9, 2021, 01:09 PM.


      • JCBBQ
        JCBBQ commented
        Editing a comment
        I second this. My burger game went from fine to pretty damn amazing once I started grinding my own meat. I like to use Picanha so I can use the fat cap to make roughly 75-25 meat to fat. The extra fat on the flat side of GrillGrates crisps up the burgers beautifully. That and a little more pressure making the patties and you’ll be in burger heaven. Also, make MH’s Glop. It’s fantastic.

      The whole 'don't compress them too much' thing is overblown. And there is NO WAY my hands are imparting any appreciable heat to 1/3 lb of beef in the 10 seconds or less that it takes to form a patty.


        1) You took the handle lightly a bit too far. You still need to form a patty that will hold - its really means dont use a burger press, don't ball up the meat for 5 min and don't push down too far.

        2) Have you checked your thermometer for accuracy? I have no idea how you can cook an 8 ounce patty at 375 for 30 min and then over direct heat for 10 minutes and still not be at 160 degrees. That burger should've have taken no more than 10-15 min total at those temps (why you'd cook them to 160 degrees is a separate question)


          If you happen to have a cast iron griddle ..... it's the best thing in the world for making great burgers on the grill. Or, in my case, I use the reverse side of my grill grates.

          Here's my recipe for easy weeknight burgers. You may like it. Can be cooked on grill or cast iron in the house



            Have to agree with others. This has happened to me before. Go ahead and do it again and put a little pressure behind forming those patties and I think you will find a different result. Most of all, don't give up. It happens to the best of us.


              Happened to me before too, listening to the be gentle stuff. I am not a gentle guy, so I was all messed up trying to form the patties.


                Happens to everyone, as I had a bunch of burgers turn out not so great a few weeks back too.

                I think I'd echo what everyone else has said:

                1) Squeeze fairly firmly to create solid balls of burger.

                2) Don't flip every minute or so. Usually I flip every 7-8 minutes (flip once) for a 15-20 minute cook time at 400.

                3) Aim for around 155 or so, and the carry over will take you above 160.

                4) Consider investing in a ThermoPop ($35) bucks from Thermoworks. That's what I did when I felt the thermometer wasn't accurate enough on the last burger cook.

                5) If you are cooking beyond 25-30 minutes at 400, start thinking a bit harder about some other variables that might contribute to this scenario.

                A good article on the subject:



                  I also really like this book for burger ideas too.



                    Hello guys!
                    I just wanted to mention that if you have a small grill or poor temperature control you can do the pre sear in the oven at 225.
                    I've got a webber Smokey Joe that can't really do indirect. However pulling the patties out of the oven at 140deg. and blistering them to 155deg. on the webber works great! My wife and Daughter won't allow me to make burgers any other way.
                    Also, using this method you can pull the patties out of the oven and set them aside while you get the rest of your meal ready, then throw them on the grill. Helps with getting everything done at the same time.

                    I agree with the others here about handling the meat. The second time I tried this method one of patties fell apart too. Make a nicely packed pattie. Don't baby the meat. Just don't try and turn it into a diamond..
                    Last edited by thegame101; March 12, 2022, 03:09 PM.


                    • FireMan
                      FireMan commented
                      Editing a comment
                      Excellent move man! 👍


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