Trainsmash Burger at Out of Africa

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Trainsmash is a South African tomato and onion sauce--a trainsmash burger comes slathered in the stuff. This one also had lettuce, fresh tomato and mayonnaise. I liked the condiments alright, it was the burger patty that was the problem. Out of Africa, the South African restaurant at Sugar Creek and Highway 59 in Sugar Land, is using high quality ground beef for the burgers--I think it's Black Angus. The problem is, the ground beef is just too lean. The burger patty comes out hard and dense and not very juicy.

At the grocery store, ground sirloin that's 90 percent lean meat and 10 percent fat is sold as the best quality ground meat. Don't believe it. Ground chuck that's 80 percent lean and 20 percent fat is usually a lot cheaper and it makes a better burger. Years ago, butchers sold ground meat that was 70 percent lean and 30 percent fat--now that made a juicy hamburger.

For the famous "Squealer" Tookie's in Seabrook used to grind bacon with the beef to add fat to the burger. (Sadly, Tookie's never reopened after Ike.) Today, great chefs like Bryan Caswell, grind high quality beef with extra fat to make their signature burgers. Maybe South Africans like their burgers lean. Or maybe Out of Africa needs to experiment with a fattier ground meat mix.

-Robb Walsh


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