I like to try to give you a heads up on the hows and whys of various cuts of meat and this brings us to Wagyu or American-style Kobe beef. You have, no doubt, seen or heard of the pricey, lovingly raised, insanely marbled Kobe beef. You have probably also heard that Wagyu or American-style Kobe beef is the same thing, only raised in the U.S. This is in-part true. However without getting too in to it, the politics (similar to those of Champagne) of what can and cannot be labeled Kobe beef have to do with a specific breed of cattle and where that cattle is raised.
If you break bown the word Wagyu – Wa (Japanese) and Gyu (cattle) it simply means Japanese cattle. At some point in the mid-1970’s Wagyu bulls were brought to the U.S. and bred with American Angus cows. The calves were then raised in similar conditions and fed similar diets as their Japanese counterparts, thus producing American-style Kobe beef a.k.a. Wagyu. Very few fine dining restaurants have ever seen true Kobe beef and the prices for it are astronomical. Bottom line: All Kobe beef is Wagyu, but not all Wagyu is Kobe beef.
Because of the diet and the way it is raised, the fat in Wagyu beef is full of both Omega 3 and Omega 6 fats and is theoretically better for you. The main reason this meat is so coveted is the marbling of the fat – and I don’t mean that there are more and thinner streaks of fat, I mean it looks similar to your granite counter tops with almost as much white as there is pink. The fat also has a much lower melting point and all this brings us to a soft, luxurious, juicy piece of meat. Which translates into a really delicious burger.
So here is the thing (and why you should get to know your butcher), I got a really great deal on scraps of Wagyu including some brisket which my butcher ground up for me. <<insert smiley face>> I seasoned the burgers simply with my 3:2:1 Burger Seasoning (3 parts kosher salt : 2 parts freshly ground black pepper : 1 part granulated garlic). I knew wanted to dress up the burger a bit and would need something to help cut through the fat, the Bacon & Jalapeño Relish was the perfect addition.
You don’t need to go out and buy Wagyu to make this burger, but you really should go make friends with your butcher! Ground chuck or ground sirloin or a combo of the two would be great (my preferred blend). There does need to be some fat – preferably in the 15% to 20% range. To learn more about what makes a great burger, check out my post How To Grill Better Burgers.
Happy Burger Month!
- ½ medium red onion, finely diced
- 2 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped... your choice whether or not to leave to seeds (I did)
- ½ cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 tablespoon brown sugar
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- 4 strips crisp cooked thick-cut bacon, finely chopped
- 1 to 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- Add chopped onions and jalapeños to a small mixing bow. Stir together the vinegar, brown sugar and salt until the sugar and salt have dissolved. Pour over the onion mixture and let soak for ½ hour. Drain and then stir in the bacon and mustard. The relish will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Cheers and Happy Grilling!