A Butcher Explains Why So Many Burgers Taste the Same

A Butcher Explains Why So Many Burgers Taste the Same


One of the country's best butchers explains the bland burger phenomenon—and offers some tips on how you can make a better one your damn self.


Ben Turley is the co-owner of The Meat Hook, a whole animal butcher shop in Brooklyn that specializes in grass-fed, grass-finished beef from local farms, and the culinary partner at Three’s Brewing—and he has some very strong feelings about the state of the hamburger today. In short, he's bored with most burgers, and it has everything to do with the meat between the buns. Here, Turley explains his, um, beef with the modern burger industrial complex. Better yet, he has a few tips on how to make yourself a better burger. Prepare to win the summer.

Burger "reviews" usually upset me, because when most people talk about a burger, they’re not actually talking about the burger itself. They’re talking about the cooking technique, the toppings, and the bun. But they don’t talk about the single most expensive product on the plate, with the biggest environmental footprint, and the thing that a restaurant is potentially building their reputation on, which is the meat. The only comment about the meat is whether it’s juicy—but honestly, if a kitchen knows anything at all about what they’re doing, your burger will be juicy.

No one asks about transparency or sourcing on a burger with remotely the same gravitas they use to speak to, say, produce from local farms. People rarely call out where their burger comes from, because they usually don’t know. Sometimes you see a supplier name (like La Frieda), but that doesn’t tell you much about where the meat actually comes from.

The truth is that most burgers taste the same because nearly 85 percent of the beef market is owned by the same four companies, whose entire business model is built on monopolizing the market, driving prices down, and squeezing farmers to feel the effect of their management while they control the consumer dollar. So 85 percent of the distributors, retailers, and chefs are getting the exact same commodity beef. On an environmental level, this beef is the most damaging agricultural commodity, and on a consumer level, commodity beef is filled with stuff that cows don’t naturally eat: corn, soy, sugars, and more that give it an unnaturally sweet flavor. Remember the picture of red Skittles raining down a highway a few months ago? Those defective Skittles were on their way to a factory farm to be used as feed for cattle. This is where we’re at, ethically, with the beef industry.

On top of that, almost all burgers made from commodity beef are coming from the same cuts, which are usually trim and trash that aren’t otherwise marketable. The only way to make burgers made from this beef taste different is through cooking technique (i.e. a flat top versus a grill), toppings, and buns. Yes, you can add some flavor with wet or dry aging, but the real problem is that most people are working with a product that has so little distinguishable flavor of its own. And sure, you might be able to get some people believing in the quality of a burger because there’s a fancy chef cooking it. But it really all comes down to the raw materials. And we can do better.

The Butcher's Guide to Building a Better Burger at Home

Go Grass-Fed
The flavor difference between commodity beef and beef that’s been grass-fed and grass-finished is truly night and day. Grass-fed beef makes beef taste more like itself—it’s more savory and more meaty, and that artificial sweetness from grain feed is totally gone. Honestly, the best way to improve your burger game at home is to develop a relationship with someone who knows where their meat comes from. It could be a butcher, a farmer, or a grocer that can answer your questions. You want to buy meat from cows that lived outside and ate grass their whole life. That’s it. That’s the most important thing. The market is growing by a healthy margin every year. You can find this near you. You don't have to live in a large city on the coast. I buy this stuff in Ohio when I visit my parents.

Cook With Care
Grass-fed meat has less intramuscular fat, so it’s best to cook it medium-rare so it stays juicy. At home, use a heavy-bottomed pan. But hey, if you like to grill, then grill! Just don't put the burger directly over the flames—you'll just taste char. Cook it over lower heat, so you get the grill flavor without the grill dominating.

Dress to Impress
When you start working with better beef, it changes the way you think about a burger, and how you eat it. You should put whatever you like on a burger on your burger, but I just do salt, pickle, and onion. I think about the farmer who raised this cow in a field for 32 months, then drove it to the slaughterhouse at 3 A.M., and I appreciate the work that went into getting this burger onto my plate. You don’t need to drown your burger in a ton of condiments after that.

FarmEats Holiday Grass Fed Beef Roasts!

FarmEats 100% Grass Fed Beef Roasts;

Prime Rib Roast, Brisket, and Bottom Round Pot Roast!

FarmEats Holiday Grass Fed Beef Roasts! Perfect for the holidays!

Whether you have  a small intimate family gathering or everyone from Uncle Chris to Grandma Donnie, FarmEats grass fed beef roasts are sure to be a hit!

Can use the old-timey family recipe for pot roast or brisket handed down from generation to generation, always a safe bet!
Or can check out a few online recipes and compare them.

Can pick up our FarmEats grass fed beef brisket, pot roast, and/or prime rib roast;

on Saturday April 8th at the Irvington Farmers Market 9am to 1pm

or on Sunday April 9th at The Souk Market in Piermont NY 11am to 3pm! 

To ensure that we have what you need; please email Drew at info@FarmEats.com to reserve a roast, and/or can buy online at www.farmeats.com/shop and we will deliver it to you!

FarmEats grass fed beef brisket

Cooking with FarmEats!

Cooking with FarmEats, with Chef Emilie Berner Chef & Coordinator at the Chef Peter X. Kelly Teaching Kitchen, NewYork-Presbyterian/Hudson Valley Hospital.

We had a blast yesterday with Chef Emilie who roasted our FarmEats pasture raised chicken and poached another.  At the class we broke the chickens down and made 3 dishes that easily fed 12 of us!

We made a FarmEats pasture raised chicken chili, chicken noodle soup, and chicken salad.

The FarmEats pasture raised chicken chili ingredients are; chicken, tomatoes, peppers, onions, chicken stock and cayenne pepper- nice and hot and spicy!

The FarmEats pasture raised chicken noodle soup ingredients are; chicken, whole wheat pasta, carrots, celery, cilantro, onions, chicken stock, spices,  and salt- soul satisfying!

The FarmEats pasture raised chicken salad ingredients are; chicken, mayo, celery, apples, almonds, spices, and curry -the apples contrasted nicely with the sliced almonds and livened up the chicken salad! 

FarmEats Grass Fed Beef Sandwich Steak Pizza!

FarmEats Grass Fed Beef Sandwich Steak Pizza!  

Nice and Quick and Easy

FarmEats Grass Fed Beef Sandwich Steak Pizza!

We take our FarmEats 20 second grass fed beef sandwich steaks, cut them into strips, put them on our oiled cast iron pan on the stove top for 10 seconds per side, add in some of our favorite tomato sauce, then sauté until hot.  

Next grate over fresh mozzarella, cheddar, and/or jack cheese, and we have FarmEats Sandwich Steak Pizza!

Very quick and easy low carbohydrate meal!

Another nice idea is to heat up your favorite ciabatta or Tuscan bread and serve the FarmEats Sandwich Steak Pizza right on top!  


FarmEats Irish Grass Fed Beef Stew!

FarmEats Irish Grass Fed Beef Stew- just in time for

St. Patricks Day!

FarmEats Irish Grass Fed Beef Stew!  

Nothing like a nice warm rich beefy stew for these colder days and nights.  With St Patricks day coming up, nothing like an Irish Grass Fed Beef Stew!

What makes a beef stew an Irish Beef Stew?  Seems to be the addition of dark porter or stout beer- Guinness for example, Captain Lawrence makes a nice Smoked Porter!  As well as 100% grass fed beef, since in Ireland that is all there is -none of that feedlot, grain fed nonsense!   

We like to keep it simple, and love cooking stew slow and low! Simmering on the stove top or burbling away in a Dutch oven, at 285 degrees, for hours, stirring every hour or so.

Start out with 2 or 3 pounds of FarmEats 100% grass fed stew beef (1 inch cubed chuck roast) put it into a stock pot or Dutch oven, add in a couple of diced onions and garlic, add in a cup or so beef/chicken stock, stir and let simmer a bit.   Next up, slowly pour in a can or bottle of stout or porter stir in and let simmer on the stove top, or put the Dutch oven, covered into the oven for about 1 hour, then stir it a bit, cook another hour.  In the mean time, cube up some root vegetables and potatoes, and then add them into the pot, along with fresh (or dried) spices; thyme, basil, parsley, oregano, ground pepper, and salt.  We like our Irish beef stew nice and thick- so you can add a bit more or less porter depending on how nice and thick and rich you like your stew.  Check again, and stir a bit, everything is ready when the beef is fork tender and the vegetables are al dente!     

Photo from SeriousEats.com

Photo from SeriousEats.com

FarmEats Pickup at Jersey City, New Jersey!

FarmEats Pickup at Jersey City, New Jersey!

Jersey City, New Jersey
Go to FarmEats.com

and buy FarmEats local 100% grass fed and finished beef, pastured pork and chickens.
FarmEats will coordinate
order pickup at Starbucks (right near the location of the season's Jersey City Farmers Market) 
98 Christopher Columbus Dr, Jersey City, NJ

every Thursday
from 6pm to 8pm throughout the winter!

Winter Farmers Markets

Winter Farmers Markets;

the souk farmers market

The Souk Farmers Market!

FarmEats is excited to be a vendor over at The Souk Winter Farmers Market!

Every Sunday 11am to 3pm, January 8th to April 9th!

We will bring along our; grass fed beef; osso buco, short ribs, "pulled beef" pot roast, ribeye, porterhouse, and strip steaks, pasture raised pork; chops, bacon, 4 kinds of artisanal sausage, as well as our pasture raised chicken; whole, half, and parts!

The Souk; An indoor epicurean upmarket from farm fare to fresh baked, traditional to exotic, and savory to indulgent, served in the lively communal tradition of the ancient markets curated to transport you into the throes of delight.

Come escape the winter’s cold into a rich sensual oasis perfumed with spices, rich oils and artisan cheeses mingling into the smoky air with the irresistible aromatic mixtures from cauldrons of steamy simmering soups, roasted meats and fresh baked pies prepared to eat here or to take away.

Spend your lazy Sundays meandering a shifting, diverse labyrinth of weekly changing vendors through an exotic “open” air green house market space or choose to rest in conversation near the wood-stove’s burning fires with something warm, surrounded by the finest art and craft in the Hudson Valley.

Situated just north of the New Jersey border between the historic towns of Tappan, Sparkill and Piermont nestled along the Sparkill Creek lies the OUTSIDE IN, home to “The Souk” and portal to the lower Hudson River Valley. 

249 Ferdon Ave, Piermont, NY 10968

irvington farmers market

Irvington Farmers Market

FarmEats is excited to be a vendor at the Winter Irvington Farmers Market! Saturdays and Indoors, at the Main Street School Auditorium 101 Main Street, Irvington NY 10533 

We will bring our 100% grass fed pasture raised beef; porterhouse, ribeye, sirloin, and sandwich steaks, stew beef, osso buco, "melt in your mouth" pot roast, "best burgers ever", beef broth bones, and more!

Every other Saturday, from January to April 22nd (January 14th, and 28th, February 11th, and 25th, March 11th and 25th, April 8th and 22nd) 

9:00 am to 1pm.

Over at the Farm!

We were up at the Sweet Tree Farm and looked in on the cows, pigs, and chickens!

The pasture is nice and lush with long grasses, and the red and white clover and diversity of  grasses that the Sweet Tree Farm animals eat, makes the difference in the flavors of the 100% grass fed beef.  

The terroir of Sweet Tree Farm affects the taste of the meat of the farm animals.  Like a fine wine, the quality of; the grasses, climate, soil, terrain, and knowing the right time to "harvest" the animals is the key to the fine quality of Sweet Tree Farm animals.  

Farmer Frank Johnson, has been cultivating his land for decades and utilizing sustainable farming methods to ensure healthy, humanely raised farm animals.

FarmEats beef chorizo on the DoughNation Irvington Farmers market pizza!

FarmEats was honored to have our 100% grass fed beef chorizo on the DoughNation Irvington Farmers Market Pizza at the market today- Sunday August 7th!

DoughNation's Farmers Market Pizza was a nicely cooked thin crust personal pizza, with FarmEats beef chorizo, and farmers market; corn, basil, and cherry tomato toppings, on a bed of fresh ricotta cheese, all baked in a wood fired oven on the DoughNation Pizza truck!

DoughNation Farmers Market Pizza with FarmEats chorizo
FarmEats Beef Chorizo on DoughNation Market Pizza

FarmEats Grass Fed Beef Chorizo Sausage!

New from FarmEats;
100% Grass Fed Beef Chorizo!

Our Chorizo is Mexican style, which is fresh, uncooked, uncased spicy beef sausage.  

So you can form it into; burger patties/hotdogs/kofte
 for the grill, meat balls for pizza or pasta, or crumble the chorizo into a pan and sear it for tacos, enchiladas, also, sauté with fresh veggies, and paella.  If there is any left over, goes very nicely for breakfast, stir fried with eggs and toast, so many options!   

(Spanish Chorizo is cured pork and/or beef,  smoked and cased and can be sliced and cooked or eaten as is.) 

The chorizo is mixed at my USDA inspected butcher, the Double L ranch, and Lowell uses; no artificial preservatives/ingredients, or funky stuff!  

The cayenne pepper makes the chorizo nice and hot and spicy, perfect for these hot summer time days and nights!

Go to FarmEats.com/shop to buy now!


Westchester Expert's 11 Farmers’ Market Tips

Westchester Expert's 11 Farmers’ Market Tips


Pascale La Draoulec breaks down 10-plus ways to ensure a first-rate seasonal-shopping experience.


Pascale La Draoulec is one of Westchester’s most sought-after farmers' market experts. Over the last nine years, she has assumed management of the Irvington, Hastings, and Chappaqua outposts, and this year she started running Bronxville’s popular Saturday-morning market. Before entering the county's outdoor-bazaar scene, La Draoulec, who grew up in Los Angeles, worked as a journalist in California, and then spent 18 years as a restaurant critic for the New York Daily News. She also published a memoir, American Pie: Slices of Life (and Pie) from America’s Back Roads, which chronicles her road trip across the country and the role of homemade American pie from coast to coast.

La Draoulec sees farmers’ markets as a romantic connection to a time when food was always local and fresh, and when people had more personal, face-to-face interactions. "The market is not just about food, but about becoming the piazza, the agora," she says. "In summer especially, people are jonesing for that sort of thing."


La Draoulec strives to work with vendors who use a range of growing practices (conventional, certified organic, and non-certified organic), which also provides a range of prices at her markets. Vendors come from as far as three hours away every week with their freshest seasonal items. “Sometimes the non-certified organic is more expensive because those farmers refuse to use any pesticides at all," she explains. "And the certified organic actually has some wiggle room that allows farmers to use some pesticides in certain situations."

For regulars who may not need the following advice, it's still worth taking La Draoulec's fundamental concept to heart, i.e. using the market as a place to gather, meet people, and try something new. For the rest of us, her tips below are useful reminders on how to make the most of your trip to market.

1. Research Ahead of Time

Know what is in season so there is no disappointment when you get there and so you are prepared with recipes and know what ingredients you need. Understand that markets sell things that are local and fresh and you might not be able to get all your ingredients there.

2. Stop By the Market Tent

Find the information tent and ask if there are any special vendors who are not there every week. Some vendors are only at the markets once a month and have goods you want to take advantage of while they are there.

3. Do a Recon Tour

Farmers’ markets can be overwhelming, so it is a smart idea to “do a reconnaissance tour,” as La Draoulec puts it. “Don’t just jump at the first rhubarb you see. There might be another vendor that has a better price or whose rhubarb looks fresher and more vibrant.”  

4 Bring Cash

There are usually no ATMs at the market, and people often run out of money before they are done shopping. Come prepared with cash and small bills. The farmers are typically not going to have change for a one hundred dollar bill, especially not at the beginning of the day.

5. Bring Bags

Some markets have bags for shoppers, but not all, so don’t forget to bring a reusable one or two. You can also bring a cooler bag with you if you plan to buy meat or dairy, or just ask vendors to keep things in the cooler for you if you are going to hang out for a while.

6. Get to Know Your Farmer

“One of the best things about markets is that you can form relationships with your vendors," La Draoulec explains. "They love to see regular shoppers and often offer them special prices or special items. Take advantage of having a conversation with the person with whom you are exchanging money. Farmers have hard lives working in fields every day. They love conversation and hearing what people do with their produce. If you made a really great eggplant Parmesan with a vendor’s eggplant and took a photo, show it to them." It's also a good idea to tell the farmer what you plan to make with their items and ask them for some tips and recipes.

7. Don’t Bargain

A farmers’ market is not a flea market. However, some people come at the end of the market and try to bargain with the farmer, assuming that anything left over will be thrown out, according to La Draoulec. But many markets do collections and make deliveries to food pantries at the end of the day, and sustainable farms use their leftovers to feed the animals.

8. Try Something New

The market is an opportunity to be adventurous in your shopping. Try something new each time you go. If you don’t know how to prepare a certain item, ask the vendor.

9. Turn Off Your Phone

In order to make the most of your trip, you need to be present. Pay attention to all the offerings, compare prices, look for the prettiest produce, and ask questions. Markets offer an opportunity to taste and smell things, senses you can't employ while hunched over your smart phone tapping at a screen.

10. Talk to Other Shoppers

If you see someone buying up a lot of one or two items, ask them what they cook and how. Vendors and farmers are not the only people at the market with good ideas on how to use the fresh offerings. Professional and amateur cooks take the best advantage of their markets and they have good advice too.

11. Follow Your Market on Social Media

Most markets these days use social media to get the word out about who will be selling, what is in season and special events. Take advantage of this easy way to stay connected and like your market online. And when you do post a photo of your amazing rhubarb pie, tag your vendor and your market.



Source: http://www.westchestermagazine.com/Blogs/E...

Bronxville Farmers Market

FarmEats is so excited to be selling our local NY state, 100% grass fed and finished pasture raised beef at the Bronxville Farmers Market!!

saturdays 8:30 a.m. - 1p.m.
may 7 thru november 19

stone pl @ paxton ave
bronxville, ny

Historic Downtown Jersey City Farmers Market!


jersey city farmers market

FarmEats is excited to be selling 100% grass fed beef and pastured pork

at the Historic Downtown Jersey City Farmers Market on Thursday May 5th- Cinco De Mayo!! 

And every Thursday from 4pm to 8pm

from May to December,

at the Grove PATH Plaza, Jersey City, NJ 

The Historic Downtown Farmers’ Market began in 2008 with less than 10 vendors and has exploded into a phenomenal market with over 25 vendors serving up tasty treats from grass fed beef, fresh fruits and vegetables to freshly baked empanadas to homemade mozzarella.


Harvest for Health Farmers Market Opening Day Tuesday May 3rd!

Harvest for Health Farmers Market Opening Day Tuesday May 3rd!

What To Do



May 3, 2016
11:00 AM until 04:00 PM



Do you like fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs? Locally produced baked goods, dog treats, and body products? Local, grass fed beef and artisan ketchup? Then the NewYork-Presbyterian/Hudson Valley Hospital Farmers' Market has something for you!

We welcome EBT/SNAP Customers!

New for 2016: Free, flexible transportation to market! Call Act Now Taxi at (914) 930 7888 by 5PM Monday night (preferred) to reserve your ride. Questions? Call (914) 734 3797

Stop by on the 1st and 3rd Tuesdays of the month throughout the summer and fall to support local farmers, artisans and community health! We also host markets during the winter season in December, February, and March.


View mapNewYork-Presbyterian/Hudson Valley Hospital
1980 Crompond Rd
Cortlandt Manor, NY





Source: http://www.westchestermagazine.com/Westche...