Monday, April 18, 2011

Alexandra Gill doesn't know what makes a burger tender


On Friday Alexandra Gill wrote a puff piece about some fancy hamburgers you can eat in Vancouver (and she even dissed Montreal in the process!).

But the line that caught my eye was "The 6.5-oz patty is 50 per cent wagyu from Washington and 50 per cent Angus beef. Perhaps it’s the blend that makes it so tender. Or maybe it’s the fact the meat is delivered fresh, not frozen. Or it could be the smoky licks of char-grill fire."

Ms. Gill; Both Angus and Wagyu refer to the type of cow, not the cut of meat. In both Angus and Wagyu. If you make a top round steak hamburger from either animal the resulting burger will be tougher than a hamburger made from tenderloin (why do you think it is called tenderloin?) or top blade.

Given that the burger she is describing costs $21. It darn well better be fresh meat, not frozen. However if the meat was frozen and then defrosted prior to cooking it will in fact be more tender than fresh meat. Similar to the aging process, freezing meat causes ice crystals which puncture cell walls which breaks down muscle fibers which in turn makes meat more tender.

And finally, while "smoky licks of char-grill fire" might be her attempt at inserting something vaguely poetic into her puff-piece the method of cooking (what the heck are "smoky licks" anyways?) doesn't effect the tenderness.

In short if you want a tender burger, get it from an animal that was killed gently and kindly. Age the meat in a refrigerator for about two weeks, choose a tender cut like tenderloin or top blade. And then finally you might want to marinate the meat.

But since hamburger is made from ground beef, and grinding anything will make it more tender, I have a strong feeling that Ms. Gill was in fact confusing the tenderness of her burger with something else.