Foodstuff: Wagyu Burgers
Until now, my only experience with the much-vaunted Wagyu Beef was a $100 steak I had at the Cut Steakhouse and Grill in Halifax, almost 2 years ago. If you haven’t really heard of Wagyu Beef then you are in something of a diminishing minority (and may wish to read the Cut Steakhouse review) as the meat from this particular breed of cattle has achieved a certain cache in culinary circles. I was quite surprised, therefore, when I saw the above pictured ‘Wagyu Beef Burgers’ being offered for sale in the freezer section of my local supermarket.
I don’t eat commercially made burgers all that often as I prefer them homemade. I do, however, usually keep a box in my freezer for those times when I just don’t have the time or inclination to cook. I eat them on those occasions then but, if truth be told, find them generally mediocre at best. A proper burger should be all about the beef but, even those commercial varieties that tout themselves as being 100%, top quality Sirloin, or the like, usually end up having little more than a vague, generically ‘meaty’ taste to them. I was curious then, to see how these Wagyu Burgers measured up…
One thing that caught my eye when I looked at the package was the printing on the front indicating that the burgers within are made with Western Canadian Beef and ‘other fine ingredients’. Naturally, that made me a little suspicious to what that might mean and I rather thought it suggested the liberal use of some non-meat filler (breadcrumbs, or the like), or that the burgers consisted of 10% pure Wagyu Beef raised in Alberta, mixed with a 90% quantity of cow lips and anuses from elsewhere. Surprisingly, when I looked at the ingredients, it turns out that the ‘other’ ingredients are seasonings. There appears to ne no non-wagyu ‘fillers’ in the mix (although I can’t rule out the possibility of a certain anus quotient).
I didn’t take a picture of the frozen burgers, as they look pretty much any sort you can buy, but here you can see one being prepared in my kitchen. I am using a ridged-grill pan as this gives a pretty close approximation to the effects of BBQ grilling, even down to the caramelized ‘grill’ markings. I added no seasoning of any sort, and I just grilled long enough to ensure it was cooked through but still remained nicely juicy.
… And here is the same patty after grilling. I have cut it open so that you can get a good look at the interior. The rather startling white fragments look rather like fat that has not been thoroughly cooked but they are, as far as I can tell, actually bits of tendon or ligaments.
Anyway, I have to say that the taste test was surprisingly good. As I say, commercially made beef-burgers often don’t let you experience much of a real beef taste but that is not the case here. I found that a bite of one of these burgers very much gave you a taste of steak from the fatty edges of a cut. The texture was not the same (being pretty much like any other store-bought kind), but the taste was definitely a cut above the rest. I also like that the package indicates that the beef is raised without the use of hormones, and this is something I will be looking to see before buying other burgers in the future. In all, I still prefer patties made at home from ground beef, but these are worth buying again…