While brisket trim makes for wonderful ground beef for an All American burger, I opted to go a different route.
Rather, I combined elements from a pastrami sandwich (which is brined/corned brisket) with the idea of a "burger." Meaning, I used horseradish cheese, pickled red onions, and toasted sourdough bread.
The result was a burger recipe I'll use for years to come.
In order to grind your brisket trim into ground beef for burgers you need:
In terms of timing, you need to schedule accordingly:
Day 1: It takes roughly a day for the meat to thaw in the refrigerator. Keep in mind, you want the meat to still be somewhat frozen but malleable; This makes the lean meat easier to grind without smearing the fat.
Day 2: You're grinding the thawed meat and then weighing and shaping them into patties. You're then placing the patties in the refrigerator for 12-24 hours to set back up. Cover with parchment paper to help prevent oxidation (going from a red hue to brown).
Day 3: You're taking the patties out of the refrigerator and cooking them.
The only difference from the above process is that you should partially freeze the meat before sending it through the grinder.
Aside from the food-safety aspect, freezing the trim for 30-45 minutes prior to grinding allows it to pass through the grinder easier. The warmer the meat becomes, the harder it is for the grinder to slice.
This is especially true for the fat, which can start to melt and smear, making a mess and potentially clogging the grinder.
A Quick Tip: I'd even suggest putting the grinder parts in the freezer for 1-2 hours before grinding; The metal plate, the blade, the hopper, and auger.
I even know folks who simply leave these parts in their freezers at all times.
Entirely thawed meat that's ground with a room temperature grinder will result in a mealy/pulpy mess with no separation of fat/lean; This also cooks and tastes as bad as it sounds.
When grinding, the meat and fat should come out of the plate in distinct holes and you'll see visual separation of fat and lean meat.
If you start to see a wet mass forming at the plate, you'll likely need to remove the plate, remove the auger, and clear the blockage. At that point I'd even suggest putting the meat in the freezer for 30 minutes.
The biggest benefit of grinding your own meat is that you get to control the amount of lean meat and fat.
Depending on the grade of brisket you initially trimmed, the intramuscular fat content will be more than enough (like with choice or prime). However if you trimmed a select grade brisket, you can add hard fat as needed.
Personally, I find 70/30 to work well for brisket trim burgers.
Technically, you could use a scale to ascertain these values, however, for something like backyard burgers I'm just eyeballing this; A safe amount is between 20-30% fat to 70-80% lean.
I personally like to sort through the trim; I'm looking for pieces of hard fat with no lean meat and separating them into piles. I then save the hard fat to be rendered down into beef tallow.
Say I did need to add more fat to the grind, I now have an entire bag of hard fat at my disposal.
When trimming a whole packer brisket, a good portion of the trim is going to be hard fat taken from the exterior of the meat. The meatier portions come from the mohawk, the rounding of the brisket flat and point, shaping the flat, and from the edges.
If you were to grind all of the exterior hard fat with the lean meat, you'd likely create a grind that's far too rich.
I got my grinder setup (Kitchenaid with Grinder attachment) and used the coarse grinding plate.
I'll be doing two grinds because brisket has lots of connective tissue, and typically after two grinds, it's at the consistency my Family likes to eat.
If you're also using the Kitchenaid setup, I used the 2nd speed option the entire time.
Here's the trim after one grind:
Here's the trim after a second grind:
As you can probably tell, the 2nd grind is way more reminiscent of a typical burger grind.
In the first grind, I'd suggest running your hands through to see what I mean in regards to connective tissue; You'll likely see shreds of muscle fibers still bound together.
To preface this section:
The grind we're creating above is completely different from store-bought hamburger meat.
The reason I bring this up is because in this recipe, we're not creating thin smash burgers; What will happen if you attempt to "smash" these is they'll fall apart.
Commercial, store-bought hamburger meat is ground much finer which further releases the protein myosin - which happens to be sticky.
When you grind beef, you're effectively damaging the meat fibers - the more you damage or work the meat, the stickier this protein becomes.
It's important not to overwork the patty - that includes forming them into balls and then into patties.
To Create Patties:
If you use a burger press to shape patties with, you can feel free to use it here. Personally I don't own one and just use parchment paper and a scale.
A typical burger patty weighs around 4-6 oz; I opted to use 6 oz.
I took my ground brisket and formed them into balls. I then placed these on my food scale to ensure each was roughly 6 oz; Again these don't need to be exact, if you're +/- 0.2 oz, it's not a huge deal.
I then used my parchment paper and pre-flattened them into burger patty shapes; I repeated this process until I was out of trim.
Here's a photo of the first four brisket burger patties, as you can see they're roughly the same size, meaning they'll finish at around the same speed.
To reiterate: Don't overwork your patties! You're just shaping them into flattened meat discs.
Now that we've weighed and shaped our patties, we're putting them into the refrigerator for 12-24 hours so that they can set back up.
Similar to the above, if you don't allow the patties to re-shape and setup, they'll likely fall apart on you.
Here's these patties roughly 12 hours later:
If you did want to use them the same day, I'd recommend refrigerating for at least 2 hours; You could even opt to stick them in the freezer for 30 minutes.
As I mentioned above, you could easily just use American cheese, ketchup, mustard, pickles, and onions and call it good. The ground brisket will result in one of the best burgers you'll ever eat.
For this recipe I opted to combine elements from a pastrami sandwich and incorporate them into a brisket hamburger.
To accomplish this I did the following:
The above are all components you'll find in a stereotypical pastrami sandwich.
Something I do often is quick pickle things like red onions and pickles at home in small mason jars. The process is incredibly easy and most importantly, cheap.
To do this all you need are:
Start by bringing your vinegar mixture to a simmer. Combine in medium sauce-pan 1 teaspoon Morton's kosher salt, 1 tablespoon of white sugar, 3/4 cup distilled white vinegar; Ensure the soluble ingredients dissolve.
Peel your red onion and thinly slice them. Bring 3 cups of water to a boil. Place the sliced onions in a fine mesh strainer and pour hot water over the onions and allow the water to drain.
This helps to mellow out the pungency of the red onions.
Put the par-blanched onions in a mason jar. Pour your brine into the mason jar and add a few peppercorns. Allow these to marinate for around 30 minutes to an hour or even a day in advance.
You can also refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
While brisket burgers are already fairly rich due to the fat content; Mayo makes for a great burger and the fat will also pair well with the sourness of the pickled onions.
I combined in a small bowl:
Essentially we get a bit of heat from the Frank's, freshly cracked peppercorns, and old-style whole-grain mustard. We also get a bit more tang and richness from the mayo.
A typical pastrami sandwich is made with sourdough and I almost always have Sourdough at home; The brand I typically use is Freihofer's Premium Italian Bread.
Use whatever sourdough brand you like, make your own, or if possible use sourdough burger buns.
I also opt to toast the bread towards the end of cook when the burger is almost done.
A typical pastrami sandwich is served with horseradish. To incorporate this element, I added some horseradish cheese to the top of the burger.
For this recipe, I grated up some Cabot Horseradish cheese.
In hindsight, I should of looked for horseradish cheese slices, just for the sake of melting.
My cheese still melted to some extent but not as well as I would of liked. Granted, it still added the horseradish element I was after.
For this recipe I used my Blackstone griddle as it works wonderfully for these types of burgers, especially in regards to crust formation. Alternatively, use a cast iron skillet or similar flat top cookware.
In my opinion, the crust is one of the best parts about these burgers and all of these cooking surfaces create wonderful crust.
This is yet another reason a burger will fall apart - people will put their patties onto the cooking surface prematurely; You want the cooking surface to be hot.
Heat results in the maillard reaction of amino acids and reducing sugars; It's the same reason crust forms on a steak when you sear it in a cast iron skillet.
Take your patties out of the refrigerator and place them on the hot cooking surface. Use a spatula to lightly tap on the surface of the burger.
Again, you're not smashing the burger, you're just ensuring there is good contact between the burger and the cooking surface.
After that, wait for the crust to form.
You can let these go for about 3-4 minutes before flipping.
What you're really looking for is crust formation. This will become readily apparent on the sides of the burger, like this:
From a top down view, we can also see the fat becoming more cohesive, which tells us it's melting/rendering:
Here's the burger flipped with the desirable crust:
Again, the burger is completely held together. You might notice some cracks, these are actually a good thing. When the cheese melts, it will seep into these cracks and further enhance the eating experience.
Once flipped, place your horseradish cheese on top of the burger to begin melting.
Again, horseradish cheese slices would of been better but hindsight is 20/20.
After your first flip you can put your bread on the cooking surface to toast. In my opinion, butter isn't needed here for the bread/buns; It will toast up just fine without it.
Something else I did was put the onions on the surface to cook. My goal here wasn't to "caramelize" the onions, rather my intention was to remove some of the vinegar from the equation as it can overwhelm the mouth.
This worked quite well too as there was the perfect pop of vinegar.
Here's the onions after 5 minutes or so:
I'm personally not big on undercooked hamburger so I let these go till well-done or roughly 165F internal. Honestly, the fat content of these burgers being high allows for a juicy burger, even when cooked to well done.
Once my bread was toasted, I took my spicy-mayo mustard sauce and spread that across both slices of bread.
I placed my brisket burger on top of one of the slices of bread; I put my pickled red onions on top of the burger.
I then capped things off with the other slice of bread.
From there, enjoy your brisket trim burger!