Unsure of the benefits of choosing ground chuck over conventional ground beef? Continue reading as we outline the variations and explain why you would favour one over the other.
Ground chuck versus ground beef
Before we begin delving into the specifics, let's clear up one issue. One variety of ground beef that may be used interchangeably in most dishes is ground chuck.
However, there are a few significant variations that make ground chuck more suitable for some recipes.
What is chuck?
The USDA recognises eight fundamental cuts of beef, one of which is the chuck. The chuck is specifically the region of the animal's neck and shoulder, as you may recall from our essay on the various cuts of beef.
The shoulder and neck of a cow, like those of any grazing animal, perform quite a bit of effort over the course of its career, therefore the chuck usually has a lot of tough muscle, sinew, fat, and connective tissue.
Chuck may be quite tough if not cooked properly due to the presence of all that connective tissue, which is why, with the exception of chuck eye steak, the majority of cuts from the chuck are used to make roasting joints or ground beef.
A benefit of ground chuck is that it has a larger fat content (between 15% and 20%) than ground beef from leaner primal cuts like round or sirloin.
Given the additional fat, ground chuck is more suitable for shaped beef dishes like meatballs and hamburgers.
Because of the higher fat content of ground chuck, your meatballs or hamburgers won't dry out while cooking and will stay juicy.
Since hamburgers tend to lose a good amount of moisture and fat via the grill grate, this is particularly crucial if you intend to grill your hamburgers.
Yes, having more fat does result in more calories.
Ground chuck has 66 more calories and 8 more grammes of fat per 3-ounce serving than ground round.
Regular ground beef, which is formed from leftovers from other primal cuts and cheap meat from the brisket and shank, typically has more fat—between 25 and 30 per cent.
This fat percentage can vary significantly and is slightly too high for burgers and meatballs since it may make them overly floppy and prone to crumbling while cooking.
But because of this, ground beef is a fantastic option for our smoked shotgun shells.
Is ground chuck more savoury?
The extra fat in ground chuck gives it a slightly better flavour than leaner ground beef because fat is the source of flavour.
In an excellent chilli, that additional taste may be a little lost, but when creating a burger, it really comes through. The patties are kept moist while remaining cohesive enough to prevent the burger filling from escaping out the back of the bread when you take your first bite thanks to the 80/20 ratio.
Try this smash cheeseburger recipe if you're searching for a method to capitalise on that extra flavour. The added fat prevents them from becoming overly dry while the smaller, thinner patties in this recipe accentuate the crisp, browned crust that truly makes a burger.
In smoked meatloaf, using ground chuck is recommended.
When is ground chuck appropriate?
As we've already indicated, ground chuck works best for recipes that call for shaping and cooking ground beef, such as meatballs and hamburgers.
Your burgers won't dry out like they would with ground round or fall apart as they would with normal ground beef since ground chuck has a golden ratio of about 20% fat to 80% lean meat.
That said, from chilli con carne to bolognese, you can use ground chuck in just about every recipe that calls for ground beef.
Become a lean mean machine
You might want to avoid ground chuck or regular ground beef if you're dieting or have difficulties digesting animal fats. Instead, search for something a little leaner.
Under USDA standards, ground beef branded "lean" or "extra-lean" cannot include more than 10% fat or 5% fat, respectively.
Ground round typically has a 10% fat-to-lean meat ratio, so check for it if your grocer doesn't offer lean mince. Look for ground sirloin, which typically has a 5% fat-to-lean meat ratio, for an even thinner cut.
You could always grind your own meat at home if you're shopping somewhere with a meat counter, or they might be able to grind up one of these primal cuts for you.
Bringing it all together
There you have it, then. A type of ground beef made from the cow's neck and shoulder is known as ground chuck.
Ground chuck is excellent for burgers and meatballs thanks to its 20/80 fat-to-lean meat ratio, but it can be used in almost any recipe that calls for ground beef.
Look for ground round, ground sirloin or any ground beef labelled "lean" or "extra lean" for a leaner mince than ground chuck.
We'd love to hear about your favourite ground chuck recipes or tips for using it to create the ideal burger!