Monday, October 3, 2011


The hamburger cooked medium rare is a nice treat for a young adult but can be a serious issue for kids, seniors and pregnant moms if not done properly (could cause kidney failure in at risk populations).  Some places may just cook the ground beef patty to a medium rare state and some restaurants may actually grind their own beef and then cook it medium rare.  From a food safety perspective, both of these methods are incorrect.

Your primary concern with a hamburger is Escherichia coli (e. coli).  The bacteria sits on the outside of your beef and can cause some serious food borne illnesses in humans.  So you might ask why can you cook a steak medium rare but you can't grind your own meat and cook it medium rare?  Since the E Coli is on outside of the steak, once you grind it the bacteria could move to the inside of the patty and that part of the patty may not reach a kill temperature of 155 degrees Fahrenheit and therefore there is a chance for the bacteria not to be cooked out.  The chance of getting sick for a healthy individual might be low but there is still a chance and that would be a concern for some people.  

If you really want a medium rare burger the key would be to flash boil you meat before you grind it up.  This quick sear would kill the bacteria on the surface, and therefore when you grind it up it, there shouldn't be any E Coli bacteria in it.  Furthermore, the quick flash boil shouldn't affect the taste of the burger.

It is quite easy to get a medium rare burger in the states, and at one point it was easy to get a very rare burger at Jack In The Box.  Getting a medium rare burger in Canada is a little more difficult but here are two places that I tried this weekend.

Hamilton Street Grill

They make a solid burger.  A nice thick patty, with bacon, lettuce, tomato, and onion.  The thick patty  when cooked rare really stood out.  I really want to stress that the rare taste and texture is really apparent due to the large size of the patty.  Be warned, for those who are weak at heart, the redness of the ground beef made it inedible to some of the people at the table.  The other guests loved the thought of rare ground beef.   Overall, the burger and fries were really tasty but I did realize that while I like a rare or medium rare steak, a burger just cooked past rare is a little too much for me.  The server stated you could state at what level of medium rare you wanted your patty cooked.

Result - Didn't get sick.

Hamilton Street Grill
1009 Hamilton Street
Vancouver, BC

Hamilton Street Grill claims to grind their own meat but I am not sure about the flash boil.

Burgers Etc

Just as New Westminster should pay respect to Burger Haven and Burger Burger, Burnaby should be thankful that Burgers Etc calls Burnaby home.  This small spot boasts numerous awards on the walls but on my visits they were never really busy.
The menu said they do their burger medium well, and the waitress asked me if that is how I wanted it before she put in the order.   I asked if can I get it medium rare, and she said of course.  This burger patty is much thinner and there was just a small amount of rare red meat in the burger which made me feel more comfortable eating it.  The medium rare taste kept it moist and the burger was tasty but could use a little more seasoning in my preference.  The fries were a little lackluster, missing a double fry or some hotter oil.

Result - Didn't get sick.

Burgers Etc
4091 East Hastings Street
Burnaby, BC

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