Brisket Burger (Ground Brisket)

This is more of a process guide than a recipe guide


When I can, I prefer to grind my own meat out of ingredients I choose.  Brisket is a very good cut of meat for making ground beef (hamburger).  It is cheap and it has a bacon-like taste.  It is also excellent for taco meat or other dishes.

I typically wait until a couple of days after a major holiday to stock up on meat.  Many grocery outlets over-buy before the holidays and fire-sale the leftover meat after the holiday has passed.

I bought a 15.36 lb. brisket  for $2.58 / lb. when hamburger was selling for over $3.00 per  lb.

Here is the process  I used to turn this huge chunk of meat into ground beef:

  • I originally froze the entire brisket so I immersed it in cold water for a 4 hours to thaw it enough to cut.
  • There are a few things you need to keep in mind when you cut up a brisket for grinding.
    1. You don’t need a  “prime” cut of meat to grind.   Choice is OK and it may have a better lean to fat ratio.
    2. You need to eliminate any silvery tendon tissue or slimy or skin-like fat.  These will  make the meat hard to chew and they will make a mess inside your meat grinder and keep it from grinding properly.
    3. You need to measure the amount of fat and lean in your mix.  You want the ground beef to stay together on a grill but you don’t want so much fat content that it flares and burns.
    4. You need to cut the meat up into  chunks that  fit your grinder.
    5. It is easier to cut and  grind meat that is almost frozen vs.  fully thawed.
    6. Use a VERY sharp knife.   It will make the job much easier.  I highly recommend using crock sticks to maintain your favorite knife.  I like the 10″ or longer variety which can be obtained from cutlery dealers.  They cost about $40 but they will last a lifetime.  The versions are less expensive but they have much shorter rods which would make it harder to sharpen a long,  curved blade.
      Crock Sticks
  • Removing the silvery skin from a  large chunk of meat is not easy.   See the following photo:
    Trimming the hard way
  • Cut the meat into 2″ wide strips.  It is much easier to remove the unwanted portions after you cut the meat into strips.  This size also makes it easier to separate the lean from the fat.
    Cut into 2″ strips
  • Trimming the strips is much easier. Just push the knife under the middle of the skin-like layer and work toward each end.
    Starting to trim
  • This nasty stuff is NOT going into my ground meat!
    Nasty skin-like layer
  • Once you have all the nasty portions removed, we need to separate the fat from the lean and place the portions in two different piles so we can measure and adjust our fat content.  I typically aim for a little leaner than 80/20 for this process because the marbling in the meat will contribute some fat.
  • You don’t have to do a perfect job of separating the lean from the fat.  This is just for an approximate lean to fat ratio.
  • NOTE:  Sometimes it is easier to separate the fat from the entire strip and sometimes it is easier to cut the meat into cubes before separating the fat.
    Trimming the fat
  • Here is my brisket with the fat chunks in the upper-left corner of the tray.  It appears to be about 25% fat but we need to weigh it to make sure.
    Cubes before grinding
  • I weighed each portion and got the following:
    1. The lean weighed 10 lbs.
    2. The fat weighed 3.5 lbs.
  • I decided to keep 2 lbs. of the fat for the ground meat and freeze the other 1.5 lbs. to make beef tallow.
  • This made the mix 10/2 or about 84/16 but the fat I couldn’t trim from the marbled meat will probably bring it closer to a perfect 80/20.
    For Tallow
  • When you grind this, you want to course grind using a 3/8″ – 1/2″ holes in the grinder plate. I use a 12mm plate for this step.
  • Grind the fat separately from the lean then mix it together by hand.  Don’t worry about getting it perfectly mixed.  The grinder does a pretty good job of mixing as it pushes the meat out.
    Grind fat and lean separately
    Mix by hand
  • For the next grind, we use a smaller grinder plate with about 1/4″ holes.  I use a 6mm plate for this step which is a little more course than a typical grocery store hamburger grind.
  • Here is what the meat looks like after the second grind.
    Second grind
  • In this case, we started with 15.36 lbs. and ended with 11 lbs. 10 oz. of ground meat and 1.5 lbs of fat we can use for tallow.  Overall cost for this superior ground meat was $3.41 / lb. or about the same price you pay for hamburger made from unknown parts of the beef.
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