Mark Lobel, butcher and co-owner of Lobel's in New York City, shares his secrets for using ground beef in every day recipes.

Butcher with Ground Beef

Mark and beef go way back. His great-great-grandfather was a cattle farmer in 1840s Austria, and Lobel's, his family's New York City shop, has been open for 60 years. "It's rare that a family can be in business for as long as we have and still like each other!" says Mark, a fifth-generation butcher who works alongside his father, brother and cousin. His two young sons are already strapping on aprons of their own. "I went with my father to work when I was a kid, too. I tell them what he used to tell me: 'Just listen and watch.' You can learn so much."


If you're not sure which ground beef to select, go with chuck
 "It'll work in any recipe," Mark says, "and has the most flavor and moisture." Sirloin, on the other hand, tends to be leaner. You can ask your butcher to blend the two if you want a juicy yet less fatty meal.

Ground beef should never come to room temperature -- whether at home or in the store
 Pick it up just before hitting the checkout line; the package should feel cold.

Leave your beef alone
 "When people mold their beef into patties or meatloaf, they just keep molding and molding!" says Mark. "The more you handle it, the tougher the meat." And step away from the spatula. "When I see people pressing down on a burger with that, it's like, 'Oh, my God, stop right there; you're squeezing all the juices out!'"