Since I'm on quite a New York Times recipe kick, I might as well post my long-ignored and semi-ignoble effort from this summer at grinding my own meat for burgers. I'm generally not a fanatical DIY cook. I don't can things. I don't bake bread. I only make stock grudgingly and as a sous chef. But ol' Bittman convinced me that burger nirvana was right around the corner if only I ground my own.
And he didn't just convince me, he convinced Toast-Mother-in-Law, a New Yorker and avid reader of the Times. So this summer she brought some chunks of sirloin out to Long Island and we went to work.
After singing the praises of hand-ground meat--and reassuring us that all we needed was a food processor, not some hand-cranked machine manned by a beefy guy in a bloody apron--Bittman warns readers: "Don’t overprocess. You want the equivalent of chopped meat, not a meat purée. The finer you grind the meat, the more likely you are to pack it together too tightly, which will make the burger tough."
These seemingly low-key words struck a little too much fear in my heart and I underprocessed. Bittman has also exhorted us to buy fatty meat, and my burgers had too many pieces of insufficiently ground fat in them to really be enjoyable. Still, they were very flavorful and I might try again next summer.
If you're looking to recall summer on the first day of flurries (in Boston, anyway) try these under the broiler on on the stove top. And don't be afraid to grind aggressively.
As printed in The New York Times
1 1/2 to 2 pounds not-too-lean sirloin, in chunks
1/2 white onion, peeled and in chunks, optional
Salt and pepper to taste.
1. Start a charcoal or wood fire or preheat a gas grill. Or, on stove top, heat a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat for 3 or 4 minutes.
2. Put meat and onion in a food processor, in batches if necessary, and pulse until coarsely ground: finer than chopped, but not much. Put it in a bowl and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Taste, then add more seasoning if necessary. (If desired, cook a teaspoon of meat in a pan before tasting.) Handling meat as little as possible to avoid compressing it, shape it lightly into 4 or more burgers.
3. Fire is hot enough when you can barely stand to hold your hand 3 or 4 inches over rack for a few seconds. Grill burgers about 3 minutes a side for very rare, and another minute a side for each increasing stage of doneness, but no more than 10 minutes total unless you like hockey pucks. (Timing on stove top is the same.)
4. Serve on buns, toast or hard rolls, garnished as you like.