Costco Ground Beef? Hamburger Matty's Rooftop Cookout Made Me a Believer

"I've learned to put as much salt as I think it needs—and then give it another coat."

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[Photographs: Robyn Lee]

A confession: I am ignorant of the supposed wonders of Costco. There were none around me when I was a kid, and when I moved to NYC, I simply didn't have the room to stock up on a year's supply of toilet paper. SE'rs have raved about the bulk superstore in numerous Talk topics, proclaiming its high-quality, low-cost food.

The SE'rs had me primed, but my friend Matty Jacobs's annual rooftop cookout made me a believer.

You may remember "Hamburger Matty" if you're a longtime AHT'r. He was one of the founding editors here and did a lot of burgerage on these pages in the site's early days. He didn't burn out on burgers, though: Every year he holds an annual burger cookout on his rooftop in Brooklyn.

This year's burgers? Amazing. As veteran attendee Anil Dash said, "It's like the Olympics. Every year is supposedly the 'best yet,' but Matty truly has outdone himself this year."

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The burgers, grilled on a Weber kettle, were cooked close to medium. Maybe just on the medium-rare side of medium. The meat, a blend that Matty says is custom to Costco (and therefore unknowable), was flavorful and surprisingly juicy, even though it had only a 12% fat content. The outside was charred evenly and crisply without a hint of the dreaded blackened "burned" flavor.

Packed into loose patties by Matty, who buys it fresh-not-frozen from his Costco in 6-pound packs for his party, it yields tenderly to the bite. This year, he says, he bought 30 pounds of the stuff for the party.

The buns? Martin's Potato Rolls, same as what vaunted NYC burger joint Shake Shack uses. That was new this year, an upgrade from the Wonder buns of the past. Also Shackesque was the secret sauce this year. He made it based on Kenji Lopez-Alt's Fake Shack recipe.

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Matty at the grill, with protective goggles.

Says Matty, "All you need is Costco meat, potato rolls, and lots of heat."

But there was something else, Matty ... Plenty of salt, right?

"Yes. I've learned to put as much salt as I think it needs — and then give it another coat."

Sound advice, my man.

And if you, dear burgerfiend, need more advice, here's The Burger Lab's Top 10 Tips for Making Better Burgers »

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