By now the news of the $41 hamburger at New York’s Old Homestead Restaurant has passed into the record books as the most decadent price tag on a homey meal. But there’s wide latitude for good burgers between that and the 99-cent burger at Burger King.
Fresh raw beef— steak tartar— was the precursor to modern hamburger. As the story goes, German merchants from Hamburg, returning from Russia in the 17th century, brought home an appetite for steak tartar that they sampled there. An enterprising Hambourgeois decided to cook a portion… and voila.
It’s been years since I’ve purchased pre-ground hamburger. My passion for grinding my own has everything to do with maximizing the pleasure in the resulting burger and nothing to do with being a purist. If you grind your own beef the day you’re going to cook it, you minimize the chance of E. coli infecting the meat. That means you can cook them rare, if you like. You also can form the patties of pure meat, with no bread crumbs or other fillers.