Cal Ripken Burgers: We put them through the grinder


Cal Ripken-branded burgers: Hall of Fame quality like their namesake? (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)

Last week, All We Can Eat detailed what goes into these six-ounce, Black Angus burgers ($9.99 for a box of four), but now we can tell you how they actually taste.

But first, I guess I should admit that, as much as I admire Cal Ripken and the way he played the game of baseball, I’m not a fan of using his name to sell products. What’s the shelf life of an athlete’s good name? Ten years if he doesn’t go all Tiger Woods? Twenty years if he doesn’t get dragged in front of some federal jury a la Roger Clemens? I worry that, 25 years down the line, if Ripken Gourmet Burgers are still going strong, they might seem as quaint as Babe Ruth Pinch-Hit Chewing Tobacco.


The Ripken burgers come stored in a resealable bag. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)

I appreciate that Roseda Beef understands the importance of loosely packed patties. One look at these disks, and you can see that each has been frozen with the beef threads barely compressed into an individual puck. You can see actual air pockets, which will help prevent your burger from turning into a little rubber ball during high-heat cooking. .


The patties are loosely packed, which prevent them from turning tough and rubbery during the high-heat cooking process. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)

With that said, I thought the burgers were exceedingly tasty, particularly for a frozen-food product. The dry-aging process no doubt contributes to the concentrated beef flavor; a decided benefit when, as I did, you push the burgers past medium-rare and more into medium territory.


The Ripken burgers contain 12 percent fat, which means they're not as rich as some other gourmet patties. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)

But a fellow tester made an interesting comment to me as she sampled a burger: She thought it tasted like cheese had been injected into the patty, as if this were some Ripken-branded Jucy Lucy. For the most part, I didn’t share the same experience, save for one bite, when I could taste what she was talking about: a mild richness on the back of the palate.

Could it be an uneven distribution of fat? Who knows.

I do believe one thing, though: Roseda needs more quality control over its patties. Despite being well formed, there were clear inequities between these ground-beef pucks. This leads me to think the company still hasn’t worked out a consistent burger blend.

Did it stop me from devouring my first burger and making a mad dash for seconds? Nope. I felt like the couch-potato version of Cal Ripken: stretching what should have been a single (serving) into a double, hearing applause only in my own head.


The finished Ripken burger: At $2.50 per six-ounce patty, the burger is probably tastier than any fresh lean ground beef you’ll find in a grocer’s meat case. (Tim Carman/The Washington Post)
Tim Carman serves as the full-time writer for the Post's Food section and as the $20 Diner for the Weekend section, a double duty that requires he ingest more calories than a draft horse.
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