Tag Archive for: burgers

A Brief History of the American Cookout

The tradition of cooking meat and other food over a fire in the backyard seems distinctly American. After all, it seems like every generation most of us can recall has been taking part in this unique pastime, particularly on summer holidays like the Fourth of July. But the roots of the modern-day cookout can be traced much further back. 

Cooking Over Fire – Just How Long Have We Been Doing It?

Humans have been cooking food since their discovery of fire, which would take us as far back as the Paleolithic era. Of course, there weren’t any fancy sauces or rubs in those times. No one had access to a Big Green Egg or Blackstone Grill. But, according to Dr. Richard Wrangham, Harvard University professor of biological anthropology and the author of Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human, cooking food transformed the course of human development. 

According to Dr. Wrangham, cooking not only gave humans better food and nutrition. It also helped our brains and bodies develop, making us truly human. Some of this might have taken place in what is now North America. But what about the more recent version of the cookout in this country? Interestingly, the cookout has been here for hundreds of years. 

The Roots of the American Cookout

One of the first explorers to reach America in the late 1400s, Christopher Columbus, did so by way of the Caribbean. While there, the explorers came across indigenous tribes who used wooden frames to slow-cook food. The explorers brought the new cooking technique, which they called “barbacoa,” to the new world with them. The term eventually morphed into “barbecue” as it spread across the southern U.S. 

Of course, grilling and barbecue aren’t quite the same things. But cooking meat and other food over fire is something that has strong roots in this country. Jim Auchmutey, the author of Smokelore, notes that American militia began organizing group barbecues as far back as the Revolutionary War. 

Cooking over flames as a group activity in the U.S. became a way for people to gather and celebrate unified values. And this is one of the reasons cookouts became a traditional way to celebrate our country’s independence or Memorial Day. 

The Modern-Day American Cookout

As you can already see, cookouts in America have been closely linked to politics and war. In the 1800s, some politicians used these events to get close to potential voters by offering them free cooked meat and booze. Ronald Reagan hosted a massive Fourth of July cookout on the White House lawn for three years running. Even today, the Polk County Steak Fry, which is a giant cookout, is the largest organizing event for Iowa Democrats. 

After World War II, there was a massive migration of families from the cities to the suburbs that coincided with a period of economic prosperity. Many families build outdoor brick fireplaces, and gathering with neighbors became a priority in many communities. 

As an option to host as many people as possible in warm weather months, the popularity of backyard cookouts skyrocketed. Interestingly, the iconic Weber grill made its debut in 1951, just in time for the backyard barbecue boom. Major brands like Better Homes & Garden started publishing cookbooks for backyard grilling. And even I Love Lucy aired an episode that featured the characters building a backyard BBQ

Finally, more and more Americans began traveling for leisure to other areas of the country or outside our borders. When they returned home, many were eager to re-create some of the cuisine and culture they encountered in other places. This gave rise to the popularity of things like grilling shrimp, smoking spare ribs, creating beef teriyaki skewers, and backyard tiki bars. 

Let Nick’s of Calvert Help You Have an Amazing Cookout

Now that you know the history of the American cookout, you’re probably getting pretty hungry and thinking about when you can schedule your next barbeque. Nick’s of Calvert can help make your grilling experience an overwhelming success. As your hometown grocer, we offer a full-service meat counter, which is the centerpiece of our store. 

Nick’s is proud to deliver the freshest meats at the most affordable prices in the area. We offer only the highest-quality beef, pork, chicken, and seafood. And our store also offers catering, prepared foods, a line of signature products, and one of the largest varieties of beer, wine, and spirits in Southern Maryland. Contact us or visit our store today to get the assistance you need to make your next cookout a success. 

Burgers, Burgers, Burgers – Choosing the Best Meat for Your Burger

Ground beef is the most popular choice of meat when it comes to making an amazing burger. But head to your local grocery store and the options can get confusing quickly. What percentage of fat should you choose? What about other types of meat? Should you mix any together? Here is what you need to know about choosing the best meat for your burger and getting it ready for the grill. 

What Percentage of Fat is Best for a Burger?

The ideal burger is going to be flavorful, juicy, and still able to hold together well enough that it won’t turn into a pile of mush as soon as you pick it up. The best way to control your burger’s texture is to regulate the amount of fat contained in the meat. This might sound complex, but it’s easier than you might think. 

You should aim for a burger that has about 15 to 20 percent fat. This ratio is enough fat to give you delicious flavor from the meat, but your burger won’t become too dry when you grill it. 

If you’re aiming for this perfect ratio with a single cut of meat, this means that some cuts won’t be suitable. For example, it’s tempting to use the best cut for your burgers, like beef sirloin. But that meat will be too lean, and your burgers will end up being dry. The same idea applies to a fatty meat like ribeye. The flavor will be delicious, but the additional fat content will lead the burger to either fall apart while you’re cooking or eating it. 

The great news is that you can achieve that ideal 15 to 20 percent ratio by pairing leaner cuts of beef with fattier ones to get the texture and flavor you want. 

Choosing the Best Meat for Your Burger

When it comes to creating a delicious burger, Ground Round is one of the best options. This is because it has the ideal fat content percentage of 15 to 20 percent. This perfect ratio of fat to lean meat means that your burger is going to have that perfect beefy taste, but it won’t fall to pieces the moment you bite into it. If you use other lean cuts, you may wish to add more fat to the mix to achieve the ideal 80/20 ratio. 

Some of the best beef cuts for burgers include:

  • Ground Round — As stated above, this cut does well on its own as a reliable option for creating delicious burgers. Round meat can be from top round or bottom round. 
  • Brisket — Brisket has incredibly high fat content and great beef flavor. It’s a good cut to mix with leaner meats to elevate the fat content. 
  • Boneless short rib — This one has excellent fat content and flavor. 
  • Tri-tip and sirloin — These have excellent flavor but are lean, so you’ll want to mix in a cut with some higher fat content. 

Remember, you can combine any meat you want to get the perfect flavor and fat content. It doesn’t have to be all beef, either. Many people like to include ground pork, which has a high fat content. Ground chicken or turkey are other options with lower fat content.

Much of this comes down to your preferences. Part of the fun is in experimenting with different cuts to get the one that suits your tastes perfectly. 

Preparing Your Burger Patty for Grilling

Usually, you’ll want a coarse grind for your meat when making burgers. This is what most grocery stores sell. You can also ask your butcher to customize your order. 

When you shape your burger patties, this is also the time to include any additional ingredients, such as garlic, salt and pepper, various herbs, and chopped onions. While it’s sometimes tempting to load your meat with different flavors and seasonings, this isn’t necessary. In fact, too many extras can cause your burger to fall apart while cooking. When you use the right combination of meat, your burger is going to be delicious. 

Get the Best Cuts of Meat at Nick’s of Calvert

Now that you know how to choose the best meat for your burger, it’s time to go shopping. Nick’s of Calvert is your hometown grocery store offering the highest-quality products at the best prices. For over half a century, Nick’s has offered its community an alternative to large chain stores. 

Our full-service meat counter is the centerpiece of our store. We provide the freshest meats for your next grilling meal. And, if you need help selecting the right cut or accompanying products, we’d be happy to help. Visit us or contact us today. 

Pairing the Right Craft Beer With Your Grilled Burger

When you own a BBQ grill, it seems like it’s always grilling season. Sure, there’s plenty of items you can put on the grill, but few things compare to a traditional, juicy burger. Whether you’re enjoying a no-frills, simple recipe, or one of those fancy super burgers, it’s going to taste much better if you have the right craft beer to enjoy alongside it.

Burgers and beer are nothing new. But how you match up the two can make or break your outdoor meal. In fact, some beer can get lost in the flavor of your extravagant burger, while others will overwhelm the meat. But beer is an excellent complement to food because of its ability to enhance and interact with so many different flavors.

Before you even consider the right craft beer, make sure you start with a quality cut of meat. Our butchers will help you select the best cut of meat for your burger/beer combo. Also, understanding that the makeup and chemistry of beer make it an ideal pairing, here is a look at what style of craft beer pairs well with different types of burgers.

Cheesy Burgers

Who doesn’t love cheese on their burger? Most of us do, and that’s good news because cheese is the perfect complement to beer. When you create a cheeseburger, it’s tough to go wrong with any craft beer you choose, but here are few ideas.

Sam Adams Boston Lager is an excellent option as an easy-drinking beer that has notes of caramel. Another is True Respite Ultimate Dreamy Team, which is a hazy IPA .

Spicy Burgers

If you love a spicy burger, consider pairing it with the right craft beer. You can accentuate the heat in your meal with a good IPA. Alternatively, if you wish to cool some of that heat, choose a pilsner or Helles-style lager.

If you’re looking for a good IPA to try out, there are probably a thousand choices. One popular one is Crooked Crab I Fought the Claw IPA, which is a bit hoppy with some citrus and other lively notes. For a pilsner and Helles-style lager, check out Aslin Brewing Company’s Much Ado.

Sweet Burgers

There are some interesting burger combinations you can make, some of which combine savory and sweet elements. For example, some burgers have caramelized onions, and we’ve even seen burgers with donuts substituted for buns.

So, how do you choose the right craft beer to go with one of these creations? In short, you need something light to balance out the heaviness of all that sugar. Porters will give you the balance you need nicely. One craft beer you can try is Stone Smoked Porter, which has an interesting Vanilla Bean flavor.

Savory Burgers

When your burger is topped with something savory like bacon, mushrooms, avocado, egg, or even pasta, you’ll want to choose your craft beer wisely. Your burger is already packing a lot of flavors, so you could opt for a simple lager such as House Beer.

On the other hand, amber beers, Porters, and nutty brown ales also complement savory foods. A few options include Rogue American Amber Ale and AleSmith Nut Brown Ale.

Classic Burgers

Let’s assume you want to grill a class beef burger. Start off with some high-quality ground beef or chuck, add your lettuce, tomato, onions, and condiments, and you’re ready for some refreshments.

There are several approaches to pairing a craft beer with your classic burger. You can pair it with an American Pilsner that is light and will allow your burger’s flavor to shine. You can also pair it with an India Pale Ale or American Pale Ale that matches your burger’s flavor intensity.

Meatless Burgers

How you pair a meatless burger is going to depend on the base for the burger, which can range from nutty grains to black beans to earthy mushrooms. Something that goes with most meatless burgers is a wheat-based ale, such as a Belgian White Ale or an American Wheat Ale. Another option that could work is a Saison craft beer like the one from 2SP Brewing Co.

Now that you have this list, it’s time to begin planning your next BBQ. No matter what craft beer and type of burger you choose, Nick’s of Calvert can help you put together the perfect combination.

Not only is our full-service meat counter the centerpiece of our store, but we also offer one of the largest varieties of beer, wine, and spirits in Southern Maryland. If you can find the craft beer you’re looking for, let us know, and we’d be happy to special order it for you. Stop by our store today.