Elk is very lean meat. If you grind it straight into burger it tends to be very chewy and needs water added when you cook it since there is so little fat in it. In order to make it cook and taste better, we like to add some beef fat to our elk burger. There are a couple of different ways you can get fat added to your elk. The first is to add straight beef fat, and the second is to add fatty ground beef. We’ll cover both methods and the math involved with them in this post.
What’s that you say? Math? Yep. You know in algebra class when your teacher said you’d use this someday in your real life? Well, here’s your chance! (I know some of you are secretly rejoicing.)
Method #1: Elk burger with added beef fat.
You will need: Elk meat, meat grinder, and chunks of beef fat. We get ours from the local grocery meat department. We just asked the guy if he could save us some beef fat and we got it for no cost. You might have to pay a little something, but it shouldn’t be too much.
Step 1: Grind your fat. This will make it easier to work with and you’ll be able to add it a bit at a time to your meat.
Step 2: Weigh your meat. Remember to zero out your scale with the bowl on it so you’re just weighing your meat.
Step 3: MATH! We like between 5% and 10% fat in our elk burger. You might like a little more or less. So I need to figure out how many ounces per pound that would be. Here’s your equation: FAT= % x MEAT. So if a pound of meat is 16 ounces, then 5% of that would be .8 oz and 10% would be 1.6 oz. So I usually go in between and use about one ounce of fat per pound of meat, rounding up if numbers are in between. If you want to skip the math, you can just use mine and toss in about an ounce of fat per pound of elk.
Step 4: Weigh the fat. I just add it to the top of my bowl of meat.
Step 5: Grind. Put in some meat, some fat, some meat, some fat until it’s all gone. You can mix it around in the bowl after if you ended up with extra fat or meat at the end. You don’t want to grind it twice–the texture gets a little weird.
Method 2: Elk burger with added fatty ground beef.
You’ll need: Elk meat, meat grinder, and the fattiest ground beef you can buy. I really wanted 70/30 but my store only had 80/20, so that’s what I used. The less fat you have, the more beef you’ll have added to your final product.
Step 2: MATH! The math on this one is a little more complicated. We still want between 5% and 10% fat, so we need to figure out how much burger we need to add if the burger is only a small percentage fat. We’ll use our ounce of fat per pound of meat that we figured in step 3 of the last method. But how much burger makes an ounce of fat?
Here’s your equation: FAT = % x MEAT. Yes, that’s the same equation we used before, only this time we know % and FAT. 1 oz = 20% x MEAT. If you have 30% fat beef burger, use 30% instead of 20%. Doing the math (divide 1 oz by .20), I need 5 oz of 20% fatty beef burger per pound of elk.
Multiply that 5 oz times the number of pounds of elk you have and that’s how much beef burger you’ll need to add. If you get a lot of ounces, divide by 16 oz/lb to figure out how many pounds that would equal. For you who want to get crazy with the math, you ARE adding 4 oz of meat for every 1 oz of fat in that 5 oz of fatty burger. And I’m sure there is a way to figure that out, but this isn’t rocket science, and you don’t have to figure it out exactly, so I’d just add a little more fatty burger if you want to up your fat content to cover that additional 4 oz of meat. Because we’re on the low end of the 5%-10% to start with, you could easily add up to 8 oz of fatty beef burger per pound of elk and still be in your desired total fat range.
Step 3: Weigh the fatty burger (or you can estimate by using the weight listed on the package you bought.
Step 4: Grind the meat. Some elk, some fatty beef burger, some elk, some fatty beef burger. Again, you can mix it around at the end if you didn’t get it ground up as evenly as you’d like.