80:20 – A Truly ORGAN-ic burger

And by ORGAN-ic, I mean full of organs!

8020 beeforgansTranscript from yesterday at The Healthy Butcher, a nice grocery in Toronto:

Hi there, have you heard of 
this new thing called 
"The 80:20"? Do you 
have it?
(wearily) Umm... what?
Yeah, it's great! You take 80% 
grass-fed beef and add 20% 
grass-fed organ meats and put 
it all through the grinder 
Okay, well we don't have that.
So if I give you some notice, 
do you think I could order 
it and pick it up in a week?
(seeing I'm not going anywhere) 
What kind of organs do you want?
You know, the usual. 
Liver, kidneys... Heart... Um, 
(boldly) brains?
Let me go in the back and talk 
to my production team.
Thank you!
(returning, kind of on board) 
Well we are not allowed to put 
organs through the grinder, but 
we can cut up some liver for 
you and hand mix it all together?

80:20 is the new ground beef. Instead of being 100% ground beef, it’s got 20% organs!

Remember that it is still important that your organ meat be not only organic, but also pastured. But beggars can’t be choosers, just do your best.

In the olden days (before today), 80:20 used to refer to 80% muscle meat and 20% fat. But this is a new paradigm, people. THIS 80:20 means 80% of the mixture is a fatty ground beef and 20% is a mixture of various organ meats. Got it?

HOW TO USE 80:20

You simply take a pound of 80:20, and make hamburger patties as you usually would. But if you’re smart (and have some time on your hands), you’ll mix in tons of sea salt and pepper, some garlic, onion, parsley etc. At 20%, you can’t overtly taste the organs, but you’ll get a whiff of them. So if you or your family aren’t exactly used to organs, then the more spices and flavorings you can add, the better.

Also great: use this as a base for meatloaf, tortières, bolognaise sauce, meatballs. I can see the advertisements now: Use it as you would meat! Only this is way, way better than plain ground beef because organs are over the top with nutritional density.

Let’s look at liver, for example. Here is a super amazing graphic reprinted with permission from Gregg’s Diet Shack:

Kale Vs Liver

Chart courtesy of Gregg’s Diet Shack

I don’t know why the whole world seems to go on and on about eating all your fruits and vegetables in order to get your vitamins. Because if it’s vitamins you are after, your best bet is always going to be liver and other organ meats.

Now I’m not knocking kale, I LOVE kale. My sister, actually both of my sisters, make the most delicious kale salads that you can eat and store for days. Kale, sliced very thinly in a frisée, is also excellent at soaking up olive oil.

However as this chart shows you, kale is better than regular beef in a couple ways (more calcium, vitamin C and folate), but it is really no competition for liver. Kale is still a great bet for vitamin C and folate, but I would probably bank on getting my calcium from an animal source (like whole dairy) rather than plant source because of bioavailability issues.

I’m not knocking blueberries either, of course. This is wild blueberry season in Ontario, also known as the best time of year. It is totally acceptable to gorge on wild blueberries right now. But even though blueberries are hailed as a superfood, they still pale in comparison to liver in every way.


I was recently reminded by some friends about the classic their mother called “Dinner-Dinner” which exists in many incarnations in Canadian homes in the 80s and 90s. In my family we called it “Goulash” even though it has almost no similarities to that dish.

My friend’s “Dinner-Dinner” was ground beef, onion soup and rice – all cooked down together. In my family, “Goulash” was ground beef, consommé, rice and peas – with a bit of worchester sauce thrown in to be fancy.

This is my new version of Goulash/Dinner-Dinner.



  • 2 TBS butter, ghee, lard, coconut oil etc, I used leftover bacon fat
  • 1 minced onion, I used an organic vidalia
  • 1 lb of 80:20, I used grass-fed Kobe beef for extra healthy fat, mixed with 20% liver
  • 1 cup cauliflower, chopped finely like rice
  • 1/2 cup peas
  • 1 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 cup of chopped green onion or scallions, whites and green tops
  • 3 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 tsp cumin, and some salt and pepper
  • Soy sauce, coconut aminos or worchester sauce
  1. Sweat out that onion in the bacon fat or your choice of fat, about 10 minutes on low in a wide, heavy saucepan.
  2. Add the ground beef and simmer until mostly cooked. You might want to raise the heat a little.
  3. Add the cauliflower and the green onions.
  4. Add the garlic, cumin, salt and pepper.
  5. Add the soy sauce or your choice of sauce – just about 2 TBS or so, more to taste.
  6. Add the peas and parsley near the end of cooking.

I actually made this 80:20 Goulash Dinner for lunch, and my six year old gobbled it up. She didn’t need to know there was liver or how highly I think of garlic, green onions and parsley. I also didn’t need to tell her that the original dish included rice, but that I had substituted for lower carbohydrate cauliflower. I also didn’t tell her that my mom used a ton of peas, but that I replaced most of the peas with green onions and parsley so that we could still get that great pop of color – but again reduce the carbohydrate load while increasing the punch of polyphenols. She didn’t care and ate it all up.

The neighbor’s kid? Not so much. You know your family and you know what flavors they will accommodate, so adjust the recipe accordingly. Once you get the hang of it, this is a fantastically simple and nutritiously dense weeknight meal.

80:20 Ghoulash

This one’s for you, mom! Thanks for all the great dinners!


November 2014 Update: ROAST on St. Clair West in Toronto will grind 80:20 if you call them ahead of time – they suggested a week.

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