The New Dream Burger

Conde Nast Digital StudioConde Nast Digital StudioKemp Minifie, Gourmet Live

"I'm a meat geek," confides Antonio Mata with pride. Officially a meat scientist and consultant, he's obviously found his bliss in bovine anatomy. Mata spends his days looking for marketable cuts of beef besides the pricey ones with the fancy names. His absolute favorite? The chuck top blade (infraspinatus muscle). Also sold as the flat iron steak, it's the second most tender muscle in the whole animal-the tenderloin being number one-and it's found within the subprimal cut, the shoulder clod. But pit the flat iron against the tenderloin in flavor, and the flat iron wins big. It's robustly beefy.

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What gets Mata really excited is that the top blade is unlike any other muscle in any other animal commonly raised for food. When cooked or roasted in dry heat (not braised) most muscles get tough. Not the top blade/flat iron; it actually improves in juiciness and tenderness, "to a point," clarifies Mata. "I actually prefer it medium to medium well done."

That got me excited. A hamburger made from the chuck top blade -a flat iron steak burger-could be the new dream burger. Food-safe yet juicy and tender at 160°F, and just in time for Memorial Day!

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I spent two evenings playing around with different versions of the flat iron steak burger and here is what I learned:

For a fabulous, beefy burger:

1. Buy 1¼ pounds of chuck top blade steaks and convince the butcher to sell you 6 ounces of good beef fat (for a 70/30 ration of meat to fat).

2. Cut all of it into 2-inch pieces and toss with 1 teaspoon salt.

3. Chill it in a ziplock bag overnight, then rinse it in a colander and dry it well.

4. Coarsely grind the mixture (I used my mother's old hand-crank meat grinder, but you can buy an attachment to the Kitchen Aid, or finely chop it in a food processor).

5. Form it into four 1-inch thick burgers and grill them over medium hot coals or medium high heat on a gas grill. Slap them between buns and pile on the condiments. Enjoy!

And don't forget to download the free Gourmet Live app to check out my article in this week's issue that shares eight great tips for a burger bash that's food-safe, flavorful and fun.

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