Probably the best thing about a hamburger is that it offers you the best possible way to experience the flavor of beef. While steaks can be seared and salted and rubbed, a burger will simply shake off any external flavorings, and open up into a beautiful blossom of beef flavor, once you bite into – if it has been properly prepared.
In my humble opinion the keep quality that a cut of beef needs, if it is going to make a decent hamburger, is a certain amount of fattiness. Lean beef will simply lack the moisture needed for a juicy hamburger. Lean cuts of beef are certainly better for marinades – they’ll soak up the juices of the marinade soak and marry up with the flavors – but a lean cut of beef that is ground up, formed into a patty and then grilled will feature the parched texture of cardboard.
So how can you make a burger that is reliably tender and juicy and flavorful? By selecting a cut of beef with plenty of fat, and then aging it! Steaks that have been allowed to age in the proper environment do not lose the moisture contained in their fat. The structure of the flesh is loosen and the tenderness of the beef becomes almost like that of cold butter, but the flavors and juices of the meat a kept locked in, ready to emerge when grilled. The key is to ensure that they aging environment is properly maintained.
For a long time I was only able to enjoy aged steaks when I went to the house of a friend in the countryside, who owned an old fashioned cellar that he kept ventilated. Now, I can age my Friday beef spectaculars whenever I have the urge, because I found the SteakAger available online. The SteakAger is a protected set of shelving with a self-contained ventilation system. When carefully set inside a good refrigerator, it duplicates the aging environment that European chefs use when they prepare their prosciuttos and other aged meats. Today, when I buy a selected cut of beef for dinner, lean or rare, I am always planning a meal weeks in advance. The shelving space on my SteakAger allows me to set a thick chunk of lean meat for a family barbeque on one spot, and smaller cuts of marbled chuck steak for a spontaneous hamburger supper on another. When I prepare my meats for dinner, I know that I will always have a flavor of beef that is incredible rich and smooth, like a chewable au jus sauce. You must try a hamburger made from aged chuck sometimes in your life, because the experience will make the crumbly burgers that you are familiar with seem like an insult to the mouth and tongue! Good aged chuck steak, when it is ground up and grilled outdoors, over charcoal or propane flames, allows the meat to shed the cholesterol in the fat, while retaining the sweet sugars and salts that give beef its unique flavor. A tender hamburger, prepared in the Steakager for two weeks, loaded with all the flavor of beef, and slightly seared edges of fat grilled to crispiness, is the finest food in the world.