An Expert Explains Why You Don't Need To Splurge On Pricey Beef For The Best Burgers

juicy loaded cheeseburger
juicy loaded cheeseburger - Zoranm/Getty Images

There is a hard-to-counter tendency in cooking that says more expensive ingredients are always going to be better, and that extends to the beef cuts in burgers. While your average person may be grabbing some ground chuck, splashy recipes and high-end retailers will promote things like ground filet mignon or wagyu beef. It's understandable that someone might be drawn to a pricey cut of beef to treat themselves to a fancy burger. After all, aren't those things more expensive because they taste better? Well if you think that way, you aren't quite wrong. That said, you also have to consider how you make and eat a burger and that the qualities that make a steak good aren't always going to be the same as what will make great ground beef. So we reached out to Sherry E. Cardoso, culinary director at Patti Ann's in Brooklyn, to get some info on when you should and shouldn't splurge on beef for burgers.

If you are getting ready to grind some beef for a burger Cardoso warns, "There are prime cuts of meat that would go unnoticed if turned into a burger patty, such as prime rib, New York strip loin, hanger, or flank steak." Grinding beef tends to level the playing field, and the cheese and sauces on a burger can overwhelm the subtle differences in flavor. Cradoso adds that while "the everyday cook might think that the more luxurious cuts would result in a better burger," they would be wrong.

Read more: Tips You Need When Cooking With Ground Beef

Burgers Can Drown Out The Advantages Of Expensive Cuts Of Beef

cut of beef in butcher's shop
cut of beef in butcher's shop - Dogayusufdokdok/Getty Images

This isn't to say there is no difference in the cuts of beef you choose for your hamburger, but what stands out about expensive meat doesn't necessarily come through. More pricey cuts of beef are generally either well-marbled, tender, or both. Burgers on the other hand are best with a good balance of fat and meat, ideally from beefy, flavorful cuts. Fat matters, but marbling and texture are not nearly as important when everything is getting ground up. Filet mignon or sirloin may be buttery soft when you cook it whole, but their lack of fat is going to make for a dry, unpleasant burger. Meanwhile, cheap cuts like chuck and brisket, or fatty cuts like short rib, bring lots of flavor because they come from the toughest working parts of the cow. This makes them tough, but that doesn't matter in a burger.

This doesn't always mean the cheapest cuts are best either. Some beef cuts like hanger steak are cheap and flavorful, but produce a gritty texture when ground. It turns out that burgers really need to be treated as their own items, not just as a dumping ground for unwanted cuts, or as variations on steak. Building a great burger blend requires an understanding of beef cuts' unique characteristics and knowledge of what exactly makes a hamburger work to begin with.

Read the original article on Tasting Table.