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The Magician of Meat: How Pat LaFrieda Reinvented the Burger (nymag.com)
23 points by smacktoward 8 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 12 comments

I actually can't tell, is this article an advertisement?

It's a PR fluff piece.

By the heuristics in the classic http://www.paulgraham.com/submarine.html - almost certainly.

>There was a time when the idea of turning a piece of dry-aged beef into a burger would be considered an act of blasphemy, not unlike shredding a Chanel gown to make a bandanna.

There still is a time: right now. I could wipe my butt with a $100 bill to see if it would make a good artisan toilet paper, but even the most ardent toilet paper enthusiast is going to have limits.

Edit: there is a winner in this story, it's Shake Shack and their patrons.

Yeah, the idea of using prime beef in a burger is... weird.

The point of prime is it's better marbled. You can get that same effect in a burger by just adjusting the fat/meat mix. I grind mine to about 20% fat, but you can pick pretty much any proportion.

Yes/No. One thing to consider is that while the "Prime" designation helps increase the price, the dry aging process is responsible for a larger part of the vale equation as well. It's likely that nobody is (was? this article is almost 10 years old) dry aging non-prime cuts as a general rule. And dry aging does drastically change the flavor in ways you can't replicate through other techniques.

Also to consider: these are butchers. They sell steaks, roasts, ribs, and other "whole" meat cuts as well. It seems plausible that a large amount of the decision to make burgers was "we have these pieces of wasted, dry-aged prime beef from trimming. We should try and make money somehow..." or "we get better prices when we buy whole carcasses, but people aren't willing to pay for certain prime cuts...but if we grind them up at 50/50 with a steak cut, we can sell them as burger meat!"

As someone who spent over a decade in the restaurant industry, it makes perfect sense that someone would try to do this as a way to turn byproduct into money.

Now, that said, you'll never see me pay the premium price for these burgers, because I don't think they're worth it. But the value of a meal has as much, if not more, to do with the clients than it does the quality of the product offered.

> The point of prime is it's better marbled. You can get that same effect in a burger by just adjusting the fat/meat mix. I grind mine to about 20% fat, but you can pick pretty much any proportion.

You can adjust the meat to fat ratio but you can't get the >100% beef flavor that comes with dry aging. If you add non-prime beef jerky to the equation I think it could be done but with just chuck and fat you can't create the same set of combinations as you're limited by the maximum "meatiness" of your initial meat.

We dry-age our own beef at home (usually buying a whole prime ribeye for the purpose).

We found that the bulk of the flavor change happens in the fat, and that we have a LOT of fat trim left over after cutting down from the whole to steaks (usually about 5+lbs of fat after trimming down and cutting steaks). So, what we do is save all of the trimmed fat, then grind it with cheaper/leaner meat (game, etc.) to make amazing burgers and sausages.

I haven't found that the flavor of a 100% dry-aged beef burger vs. one w/ up to 20% dry-aged fat is night-and-day different. Not to mention, this lets us use pretty much everything -- the bones make stock, so we have at best about 1/2lb of real "waste" after DA'ing a ribeye, which is mostly the crusty outer edge.

We did a taste test w/ fresh brisket trimmed to 10%, then added 15% DA fat vs. 30-day DA brisket burgers (trimmed to 25%), and only about half the people who tried it could tell a difference.

Dry-aging is a different thing entirely. Prime meat isn't necessarily dry-aged, and you can dry-age choice meat too.

But the meat in the article is Dry-Aged Prime beef. To make a statement solely about the fact that LaFrieda was using Prime beef without also bringing up that it was Dry Aged removes important information about the product he was using.

Right, and I'm saying that dry-aging prime beef to use for burgers is weird. If you want the dry-aged taste and it's gonna be going in a burger, you might as well dry-age some choice meat and add a little more fat.

Food porn. Love it!

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