Once the meat was defrosted, I opened the package and began forming three 1/3 pound (15 gm) patties. Conventional wisdom says 1/3 pound (15 gm) patties are the ideal sized patty for the perfect burger. They have the “ideal” ratio of surface area, interior area and thickness. When I opened the wrapping I immediately noticed a big difference in color. This ground beef was a pink, almost salmon color and not the normal red color I normally associate with ground beef. I guess I had noticed the color earlier, but at that time I associated the color with the meat being frozen. I figured what I was seeing was ice or condensation on the surface which was masking the red color underneath. As it turned out I was wrong, this was the color. Once I thought little more about it the reason was apparent: This meet has around a 40 percent fat content and red and white makes pink. Once I began forming the patties I immediately noticed the second big difference with the Wagyu ground beef. It had a very soft, uniform and creamy texture. It didn’t feel like individual strands of ground beef like I was used to. I used a very light touch forming the patties and they were quite soft and somewhat loose. I was a bit worried about them holding together on the grill. The consistency of the patties reminded me of some veal burgers I made about 10 years ago. These veal burgers were very soft and creamy too, but this was after adding some bread soaked in milk (a panade) to the mix. The similarities of the Wagyu to the veal burgers set alarm bells off. These veal burgers took several attempts on my part to achieve success, because they stuck to the grill grates like glue. On subsequent attempts I added some egg and breadcrumbs to the mix to help firm up the veal patties. These Wagyu burgers were going to be pure beef, with nothing added to the mix, so I needed to take grate care-pun intended. I brushed and oiled the grill grate not once, but twice. I also kept the formed patties in the fridge to firm them up until I was ready to toss them on the grill.
Grilling: Once I had the grill stabilized at 425 (218C) I put the patties on. Almost from the minute they hit the grill grate, I began to see little tiny flare-ups in the charcoal. The flare ups quickly began to increase in size. There was also quite a bit of beefy smelling smoke created. I donned my leather welders gloves to add the salt and pepper mixture to the first side. I was able to get the lid closed fairly quickly. There was still quite a bit of smoke coming out of the chimney of the Egg, but shining the flashlight of my iPhone down the chimney and peering carefully down the chimney it appeared the flareups had gone out. I am guessing the smoke was from fat dripping onto the coals, but with the tight seal of the Egg there wasn’t enough oxygen to create a flare up. The recipe I was using for cooking the burgers said 4-5 minutes per side at 425 (218 C), so I checked the meat at 4 minutes. There was some juice pooling on the top surface which was a sign that the meat should be flipped. With the lid opened, the flareups also began again.I put on the welders gloves to turn the patties. I used a spatula with the thinnest blade that I owned to turn the patties. I was able to very carefully and slowly work the spatula under the patties and flip them. When the flipped patties landed back on the grill grate there was a large flare up each time. I was pleased to see that I only had one small piece of one burger stick to the grill. Bullet dodged.
Based on how the first side cooked, I figured 4 minutes on the second side was about right. I opened the lid at the 2:30 minute mark and quickly checked the temp with my Thermapen, this reading confirmed I was on target for 160 degrees (71 C) at 4 minutes. I had to add the cheese bare-handed and it was interesting because the grill was flaring up again. I had to drop the cheese onto the patties from several inches overhead to avoid getting burned. The first piece of cheese I added got one edge singed a bit from the flare ups occurring while I added the cheese to the other burgers. I got the lid closed and had about a minute left to go before they would be done. At 4 minutes I pulled the patties. They came off the grill easier than the first side had. I took them into the Kitchen and covered them for a 10 minute rest as per the recipe.
Consistency: To my surprise these burgers did not have a consistency that I associate with ground beef. I mentioned the creamy buttery moistness, but this also extended into the consistency as well. The texture was very smooth and did not seem like it was made from strands or pieces of ground meat. I really haven’t experienced meat with this consistency before. The ground veal burgers I made came somewhat close. They were soft and moist but still had a more coarse consistency than these Wagyu patties.
Taste: The moistness of these patties was a bit of a surprise, the consistency was very surprising, but the biggest surprise was the taste. I expected that the flavor would just be a more intense grilled ground beef flavor due to the extra fat content. These burgers had an intense meaty flavor but I really couldn’t put my finger on what it reminded me of. It was unlike any beef burger I had tasted and very intense. Now it wasn’t necessarily better than the best, but it was right up there and different.