Appetizers
May 31, 2011
Hamburgers, how do we love thee? Let's count the ways

Gentlemen (and ladies), start your grills!

Summer is officially here, even though the weather says otherwise. But when has a little rain and wind ever stopped dedicated backyard grillers?

We stopped by Corti Bros. Market last Saturday, nosing around, and counted eight kinds of ground beef in the meat case, including one called Mike's Ultimate Blend. Immediately, we thought of hamburgers in their many styles and variations - especially burgers on a charcoal-fuled grill.

So we chatted with master meat cutter Mike Carroll, manager of Corti's meat department. "We sell tons (not literally) of ground beef in the summertime," he said. "People looking for a flavorful hamburger have to remember, though, that fat is what gives burgers their flavor."

Carroll broke down his ground-beef offerings for us, ranking them according to quality and flavor, plus fat content.

At the top of the heap is Mike's Ultimate Blend, a mixture of prime chuck roast, prime top round and choice brisket ($5.99 a pound, destined to increase to $6.99 a pound; 18 percent fat). We took home a pound and made meatballs one night, a thick burger the next. Lots of texture and flavor. Next:

Kobe ground beef: "This is the trim from our Kobe beef program," Carroll said ($7.99, 20 percent).

Prime ground beef: "Trim from the table cuttings of six kinds of prime beef" ($5.99, 25 percent).

Piedmontese ground beef: Piedmontese beef is from an heirloom breed of "double-muscled" cattle originally from northern Italy. It's low in saturated fats, but you wouldn't know that to taste it ($5.99, 15 percent).

Extra-lean: exclusively from the sirloin tip ($4.99, 5 percent).

Ground sirloin: $3.49, 15 percent.

Ground round: $3.29, 17 percent.

If you don't want to make your own burgers, consider meat clerk Greg Stoffel's "gourmet burgers," patties handmade from Kobe and prime ground beefs, with bacon, Gorgonzola cheese and a touch of Mangalitsa pork lard ($7.99, 20 percent).

Corti's is at 5810 Folsom Blvd., Sacramento; (916) 736-3805.

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