Up Your Burger Game with Wagyu Beef and These Pro Tips
Did you know that Americans consume, on average, 50 billion hamburgers a year? That is 2.4 hamburgers per person a day! Nowadays we can select more than just beef burgers. You can find turkey, salmon, bison, veggie, and plant-based burgers. Burgers have become as unique as the people that create and cook burgers.
Whole prime ribs and pork shoulders may be what aspiring pit masters dream of, but when most of us fire up the grill, it’s to cook more commonplace fare, like burgers. Enter the-not-so- commonplace burger. As with all barbecue, where your food comes from matters as much as how you grill it. And the 100 percent wagyu beef burgers from Holy Grail make some of the most extraordinary burgers I’ve ever tasted. Thank you, Holy Grail Steak!
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Wagyu literally means “Japanese cow,” referring to Japanese cattle breed remarkable for its inter-muscular marbling. In 1976, Japanese steers were bred with American cattle, producing now widely enjoyed American wagyu. Imagine the lusciousness of wagyu with the crusty juiciness of an American burger. And don’t think of your next barbecue without it.
Now that you are hungry, let me tell how I put together the ultimate burger. To ensure a crusty burger I decided to cook over the high heat of charcoal. Cooking over charcoal will also deliver a smoky flavor that I enjoy in my burger. I set up my Big Green Egg XL (BGE) for direct grilling and inserted the cast iron grates. I felt the cast iron grates would create the ideal sear on the burgers to seal in the juices and maximize the crusty exterior we all want on a burger.
The burgers I received from Holy Grail were already formed. So, if you make your own burgers here are some pro tips.
- Wet your hands before handling the meat so it doesn’t stick to your hands.
- Portion out the meat or use a scale to create burgers of equal size so they finish cooking at the same time.
- The burger will shrink during cooking, so make the raw burger wider than your bun.
- Don’t over-handle the meat when forming burgers. Overworking the meat will create a tougher burger.
- Season the meat once the patty is formed—not before—or you will get a stringy burger. Make a small indent or dimple in the middle of the patty so when the meat expands while cooking you won’t have a burger with a domed shape.
- Do not flatten your burgers (unless you are making a smash burger) with a spatula while cooking; you’ll push out all the delicious juices.
I wanted the flavor of the wagyu burger to stand out, so I kept the seasonings simple with coarse kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper. The larger pieces of salt and pepper help form the crust on the outside of the burger. But feel free to season your burgers with your favorite spices or rubs.
Once the BGE was heated to high and grates were hot, I placed the burgers on the grill. The burgers cooked for two minutes, then I gave them a quarter turn and cooked for another 2 minutes. I repeated the process on the opposite side. I cooked the burgers to an internal temperature of 135 for medium-rare. (Note: The FDA recommendation for ground meats—excluding poultry—is 160 degrees.)
Here is how I built my burger: I started with a grilled toasted brioche bun. Grilling the bun keeps it from getting soggy. I melted American cheese over the burger as it finished cooking. I then topped the burger with crispy bacon, pickle chips, and ketchup. I didn’t want to get too fancy with my toppings; I wanted the beef flavor of the Holy Grail wagyu burgers to be the star. My wife built her own burger and went traditional with some toppings but used ranch dressing instead of ketchup. We served the burgers with spice- rubbed potato wedges.
The options for seasonings, cheeses, toppings, and buns are only limited by your imagination. I encourage you to get creative and select your favorite bun, cheese, and accoutrements for your burgers.
The Holy Grail burgers were super juicy on the inside and had an awesome beefy flavor. The crusty, well-caramelized exterior balanced the luscious interior of the burger. The cast-iron grates helped create a nice sear on the outside of the burgers. The bacon was salty and crispy, and contrasted with the crunch and tang of the pickles. Even with all the delicious meat juices dripping from the burger, the grilled bun held up. The brioche bun is light and doesn’t overwhelm the burger as denser buns do.
I felt like I was looking at a Jimmy Buffet song when it was finally time to sit down and eat! Check out Holy Grail Steak to get wagyu burgers for your next cookout.