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Monthly Burger Series: Father’s Day Burger {+An Ultimate Guide to Beef}

June 10, 2019
9 min. read

Here we are…well into prime grilling season. With Father’s Day just around the corner, schools letting out for summer, and vacation season finally here, we should all have our grills seasoned and ready for the months of burgers, hot dogs, steaks, and more that lie ahead.

This month, let’s celebrate Dad with a spicy Firecracker Burger to help kick things up a notch into full-on Summer Grilling mode.

{BONUS: Is your dad a beef/burger aficionado? Scroll down to our Ultimate Guide to Beef below to learn how to build the perfect burger that’s Dad-approved!}


Featured Recipe: Firecracker Burger

Firecracker Burger

See the full recipe:


About This Recipe:

The Burger

For this recipe we used ¼ lb. patties of 80/20 ground Angus chuck—the standard for a classic American burger. This is a great place to start if you are new to burgers. To learn about custom burger blends and other cuts of beef, be sure to check out our Ultimate Guide to Beef below.

The Cheese

What’s a “firecracker” burger without a bit of spice? We used white pepper jack cheese to add a bit of extra kick. The spiciness pairs well with the fattiness of the burger.

The Fried Jalapenos

Did we say “a bit” of kick? Okay…we meant “a lot.” The true star of this recipe is the homemade battered and fried jalapeno rings. Coated in a mixture of flour, seasonings, egg, and seltzer water (the fizziness helps with the frying process!), the jalapenos are then deep fried in vegetable oil until crispy and golden brown. These cute coins add a great burst of heat and crunch to a delicious, juicy burger.

Deep Fried Jalapenos

The Sauce

Okay, okay…this is the last spicy element, we promise! Some smoky chipotle ranch dressing adds just the right amount of flavor and spice, plus a cooling element. Just the “secret sauce” this burger needs.

The Toppings

For some additional cooling elements, we added some of the classics: fresh, thinly sliced tomatoes and red onions. If you like even more veggies, try adding a cool, crisp slice of iceburg or butter lettuce. Or…customize it to Dad’s liking!

Firecracker Burger


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The Ultimate Guide to Beef

Choosing a selection from your grocer’s meat aisle or butcher counter can be an overwhelming process. With dry-aged this and grass-fed that, it’s hard to know where to begin and what to choose. What do all these terms mean and which option is best for me?

Fear not—here’s your new all-in-one dictionary, glossary, and tip sheet for all things beef!

Cuts of Beef

There are 8 “primal cuts,” or regions, of beef as designated by the USDA:

  1. Chuck: shoulder cut; very flavorful with good amount of fat content and marbling throughout, making it a top choice as ground beef for burgers.
    1. Common uses include: ground chuck/burgers, flat-iron steak, chuck short ribs, pot roast, blade roast, shoulder tender medallions, stew meat.
    2. Burger tip: this is the most popular cut for burgers. When building a custom blend for burger patties, this is a good base because of its flavor and optimal lean-to-fat ratio.
  2. Rib: includes portion of ribs (6th – 12th), portion of the spine, and large muscle in between; tends to be very flavorful with lots of marbling; frequently used for popular cuts of steak.
    1. Common uses include: rib roast/prime rib, ribeye steak, cowboy ribeye, Delmonico steak, back ribs.
  3. Loin: top cut (behind the rib); very tender and flavorful; includes both the short loin and sirloin sections.
    1. Common uses include: filet mignon, T-bone steak, porterhouse steak, strip steak, short loin, tri-tip steak, tenderloin.
    2. Burger tip: the bottom sirloin is sometimes used in ground beef. Try using it in a custom burger blend!
  4. Round: leg/rump cut; typically very lean and tends to be a bit tougher.
    1. Common uses include: round steak, eye of round, tip steak, tip roast, top round and bottom round roasts, ground beef.
    2. Burger tip: adding ground round to a custom blend can help achieve a leaner burger patty.
  5. Flank: cut from below the loin; lean and flavorful, but tends to be tougher.
    1. Common uses include: flank steak, London broil.
  6. Short Plate: cut from below the ribs near the abdomen; flavorful and fairly fatty; great for braising or for use in ground beef.
    1. Common uses include: short ribs, skirt steak, hanger steak, carne asada.
    2. Burger tip: try adding short ribs to your custom burger blend to increase the fat ratio and add lots of rich flavor.
  7. Brisket: cut from the breast; very flavorful (“beefy”), moderately fatty, slightly tougher; great for braising or low and slow cooking.
    1. Common uses include: corned beef, pastrami, barbecued/smoked brisket.
    2. Burger tip: try using ground brisket in your custom burger blend for added fat and flavor.
  8. Shank: arm/leg cut; very tough; great for braising or making soups and stews.
    1. Common uses include: shank steak, osso buco.


Beef Grading

USDA Grades:

There are 8 grades of beef designated by the USDA, but the top three are most commonly used. These are used to designate the eating quality of the beef, based on characteristics such as tenderness, juiciness, and flavor. The quality grades are based on the degree of marbling (intramuscular fat, or IMF%) and the degree of maturity (categorized into 5 groups, A through E). There is also a separate Yield Grading system (grades 1-5) which estimates the cutability and relative amount of edible meat.

  1. USDA Prime – slightly abundant to abundant marbling
  2. USDA Choice – small to moderate marbling
  3. USDA Select – slight to small marbling
  4. USDA Standard – practically devoid to traces of marbling
  5. USDA Commercial
  6. USDA Utility
  7. USDA Cutter
  8. USDA Canner

To learn more about beef grading click here.

JMGA (Japanese Meat Grading Association) Grading Standard:

Wagyu beef, which contains a very high level of marbling, almost always falls into and even exceeds the USDA Prime category for beef. For this reason it is typically graded using the Japanese Grading Standard which is much more stringent.

First, it uses a Beef Marble Score (BMS), where the grade range is 3-12. These grades are based on the IMF%, with the minimum required being 21%. Second, there are three yield grades (A, B, and C) based on estimated cutability and five quality grades (1-5) based on characteristics such as marbling, color, and texture. There are even separate additional grading systems for color, firmness and texture, and quality of fat.

Learn more at and


Beef Glossary

  • Angus Beef: a breed of cattle which is originated in Scotland and is the most common cattle breed in the US. Angus cattle typically produce well-marbled meat, however it can range in quality (look to the USDA grading scale for quality ratings).
  • Certified Angus Beef: a brand of Angus created by the American Angus Association. It must meet several quality standards to achieve this classification.
  • Dry-Aged: a process of aging beef by hanging the primal cuts in open air in a controlled environment for several weeks. This allows the meat to tenderize and slowly dehydrate, which concentrates the flavor and changes the texture.
  • Grain-Fed: simply used to designate the feeding style of the cattle which may affect the nutrients, lean-to-fat ratio, taste, texture, and other characteristics of the beef. It is up to personal taste preferences when choosing between the two.
  • Grass-Fed: simply used to designate the feeding style of the cattle which may affect the nutrients, lean-to-fat ratio, taste, texture, and other characteristics of the beef. It is up to personal taste preferences when choosing between the two.
  • Kobe Beef: a strain of Japanese Wagyu which must be born and raised in the Kobe region of Japan. It is known for its high quality in terms of flavor, tenderness, and marbling. Kobe beef must meet very stringent grading standards including a marbling ratio of 6+ and a meat quality score of 4-5. The term “Kobe-style beef” may be used in the US to describe beef with similar characteristics, marbling, and flavor, produced by bringing certain breeds of Wagyu cattle to the US.
  • Marbling: The amount and distribution of intramuscular fat (IMF%). In other words, it is the intermingling or dispersion of fat within the lean. Marbling is the primary determinant of USDA (and other) beef quality grades.
  • Wagyu Beef: “Wagyu” literally means “Japanese cow.” It is a breed of cattle from Japan and is revered for its high-quality and intense marbling. “Kobe” is a one of the most popular strains of Japanese Wagyu. Wagyu cattle are raised today in other regions of the world as well.
  • Wet-Aged: a process of aging beef by vacuum-sealing the meat and allowing the age for several days. During this time, the enzymes in the meat work to tenderize it.


Burger Building Tips:

Use your new knowledge of all things beef to build a custom burger for the dads in your life! Here are some tips to get you started:

  1. Consider the fat ratio. A good rule of thumb for burgers is 80/20 (lean to fat) but try experimenting to match your personal preference. Keep in mind the amount of fat is also affected by the doneness of the final burger (e.g. medium vs. well done).
  2. Form the patty carefully. You don’t want to overwork the meat too much as this can lead to a tougher burger. Also, consider forming a small divot in the center of the patty before cooking; this helps the burger to not expand while cooking. Another tip is to keep the raw meat relatively cold until ready to cook.
  3. Create a custom blend. Use the descriptions for the cuts of meat above to come up with your own custom blend. Be sure to keep in mind the 80/20 guideline and mix and match leaner or fattier cuts accordingly. You can also use this rule to blend other types of meat, such as turkey or pork, with ground beef.
    1. You can do this by: 1) purchasing a meat grinder or grinder attachment for your kitchen and blending the cuts yourself, 2) ask your butcher to grind your chosen cuts for you in the grocery store, 3) look into brands offering prepackaged custom blends such as Schweid & Sons or Pat LaFrieda.
    2. Check out this step by step guide to grinding your own burger meat if you’re considering that option.
  4. Experiment with different cooking methods. Try different grill temperatures, direct vs. indirect heat, or other methods such as a griddle or frying pan to get your perfect burger.
  5. Choose your fixings wisely. If you go through the trouble to customizing your burger blend and patties, you don’t want the toppings to steal the spotlight. Choose toppings that will complement, rather than cover, your perfect patty.
  6. Store properly. You can freeze your preformed raw burger patties in a single layer in the freezer, then store them in a zip-top bag. This allows you to make a large batch of your custom blend at once then thaw and cook a few at a time as needed.


We hope you enjoyed this Ultimate Guide to Beef! Follow us on social media to share a photo of your Father’s Day burger creations!



Further Reading {Sources}:


Beef Cuts:


Dry Aging:



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