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Grinding Meat

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Hello ChefTalk. I haven't posted in while, though I check in every day, and the site keeps prompting me to contribute with a message at the top, so here we go.

Do any of you grind your own meat? I guess most often would be beef for burgers and a variety of reasons, but I would also like to make some sausage. I just watched an episode of "Diners, Dives, and Drive-ins" on The Food Network. I noticed the best looking burgers were from joints that ground their own meat, then cooked them on a griddle by throwing on a ball of meat that was still sort of loosely packed, then they smack them once or twice with a heavy spatula. The result was some unbelievable looking sliders.

Would I be as impressed with meat I ground myself as I think I might be?

I was looking at some grinders online. For around $100 or a little less there are grinders that are generally about 150 watts. That seems kind of weak. I came across a LEM 1/4 horsepower grinder for $199 with free shipping, but it's big and weighs 32 pounds. LEM appears to make some real heavy duty grinders for commercial use. I can also buy an attachment for my 325 watt KA mixer (which is 16 years old and doesn't sound good from making double batches of pizza dough) for $64. If you do your own grinding, what do you use for equipment?

I also have my eye on a Lodge Logic two burner cast iron griddle to fry these bad boys up.

Is this too much work just to create some diner style sliders? Was I just hungry enough when I watched the show, that I am now not thinking clearly, or is this worth it? :D

Kevin

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post #2 of 13
I rarely buy pre-ground meat any more, but I don't grind it at home, either. I chop the meat that is usually ground. Sometimes I'll chop it by hand using the traditional two knife method, but lately I've been chopping the meat in the Cuisinart. Both methods, when done right using very sharp blades, yeild superior results compared to grinding. I cannot however, stress strongly enough, that the knives, cleavers, or the food processor blade must be very sharp. I went so far as to buy a second blade for the food processor, had it professionally sharpened, and now use it only for chopping meat.

I learned the techniques involved from three sources: the Time-Life Good Cook series beef volume, Judy Rodgers of the Zuni Cafe in San Francisco, and a show that Alton Brown did on Food Network.

You might want to consider chopping your meat rather than grinding it. The texture is, imo, superior, and you can have even better control over the results.

shel
post #3 of 13
I would also recommend this site, to ask for answers on this subject. Some definite pros of home meat grinding around there......Smoking Meat Forums - Welcome to Smoking Meat Forums!
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How come "dishwasher" is not listed as a choice for culinary experience?

"...the very genesis of our art."
- Escoffier on grilling
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post #4 of 13
I've helped my mom make home-made sausage. We chopped our own meat using, at first, a hand grinder with the coarse grind set. Later, we used an electric Oster brand food grinder also with the coarse grind. Both resulted in a good texture for the sausage. (Sometimes we used casings, sometimes we made patties.) The fine blade made the meat too "mushy" for our taste.

I've never been ambitious enough to chop meat by hand (2-knife method) or in a food processor so can't speak to those methods.
post #5 of 13
My KA, which is 15 years old, works just fine. Coarse grind for sausage (pork butt), and fine grind for hamburger. Just have to make sure the meat is not at room temperature or it can come out like Vet's dog food.

Hardest part for me is knowing what to grind up and what not to. Butcher once told me for chuck, grind only the very hard white fat with the meat, avoid anything soft, cartilaginous (like semi-hard bone like), and silverskin as best you can. Pork butt seems to grind pretty well as long as I don't get any skin in it!

doc
post #6 of 13
I use the old fashioned clamp on hand crank grinder,I always chill the grinder and semi freeze the meat before I grind.:chef:
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One time a guy pulled a knife on me. I could tell it wasn't a professional job; it had butter on it.- Rodney Dangerfield -


'We're ALL amateurs; It's just that some of us are more professional about it than others'. - George Carlin
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post #7 of 13
I've used both the Cuisinart and the KA attachment kit for sausage, and a couple of recipes that call for ground meat, but never done burgers. I thought the KA coarse-plate results were superior. Just freeze the whole shebang and use semi-frozen cubed meat.
post #8 of 13
Interesting discussion. I recently bought a grinder attachment for my KA mixer. (MuskyHopeful, I didn't pay that much; I had a coupon for Boston Store.) I haven't used it yet, but I remember we used to use one of those cast aluminum grinders to chop meat when I was a girl. We cooked them on Mom's well-used Revereware skillet and they came out wonderful: crusty, caramelized outside, juicy and rare inside. :lips: As I recall, we just scattered some salt in the bottom of the hot pan and that was it.
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post #9 of 13
I've used a few different kinds. The KA is a good start, both for hamburger and for other charcuterie -- but it's very messy because of the skimpy ****ing tray. Compared to a stand-alone grinder the attachment takes less space and stores more conveniently. Important for a home kitchen. It's also the right size for most purposes.

Getting good meat is seldom a problem, but getting good fat can be. If you want to make a good hamburger you'll need about 15% - 25% fat by weight. The best fat is the suet from near the kidneys. The best beef cut for hamburgers is the chuck, because the sides are hung chuck down and the blood pools down there. This according to Julia Childs, and (I think) Alice Waters, and a bunch of other folks.

If you use "steak" trimmings from the rib, the sirloin, or wherever, just make sure you have enough fat. Meat that is too lean cooks extremely quickly, and unless cooked so rare the surface is barely colored, the interior will look grey and taste dry. For tartare, it's another story, but that's a different thread isn't it?

High zoot, "healthy," and "low fat," burger recipes often recommend adding water or broth to keep the meat juicy. Don't you dare! Use meat with enough fat.

One characteristic of freshly, home-ground meat is that you don't have to worry too much about overworking it. OTOH, you have to work the meat a little to keep it from being too "fluffy," which is another way of saying so loose it won't hold together.

Helps?
BDL
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post #10 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks everybody for the responses. I'm glad to know the KA attachment will work as an option for me. I'm doing some research on some other stand alone units and am learning a lot.

It looks like there are some pretty good deals on Ebay, and I may pull the trigger on something soon. I just sent a question about the attachments to the seller of this particular grinder. He's including an extra cutting blade and three extra plates for the "buy it now" price. So it would come with two blades, six plates, and three sizes of sausage tubes.

My future meat grinder?

Sam Baere, the manufacturer of this unit, sells it on line for $229.00 with one blade and three less plates. It looks pretty powerful. I watched a video of it grinding meat and even whole chicken legs.

It's no wood chipper, but it's not like I see a "Fargo" scenario in my future. :D

Kevin

I'm hot to do me some serious grinding. No meat will be safe.
post #11 of 13
Ma Facon - thanks for the tip. Would never have thought of that. Have an old fashion grinder like that myself but been a bit frustrated with the results (I don't make sausages, only ground meats). But I do like to combine meats and flavourings at times and I much prefer the grinder to a food processor for that. Food processors tend to make it come out like pap, all mushy and too close packed.
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post #12 of 13

Best Burgers

The best burgers I made were from (don't laugh) beef tenderloin end cuts, chuck & sirloin. Ground it myself in an old hand grinder using the coarse attachment & I made sure to add about 20% suet. I made 6 oz. loosely packed balls, pressed them down once, & turned them once in a heavy cast iron pan with coarse salt on the bottom. They came out nicely browned on the outside & just rare on the inside. Now I'm hungry.
post #13 of 13

Home ground meat

There is no comparison between home ground meat and what you purchase in the market. You are in full control, and when you know that there is nothing in the burger that you didnt want there, it automatically tastes better. Do thoroughly chill all the grinder parts before beginning, and also make sure the meat is very cold. Afterward, complete cleaning and drying of all the grinder parts is essential. So is storage. The blades of many grinders can rust if there is even a tiny drop of moisture, so make sure they are bone dry, then store them in a container or zip bag containing a half cup or so of rice (thanks Alton Brown). I dont know if Oster makes the Kitchen center any longer, but that's the set up I'm stuck with until it wears out. The grinder works just fine for small jobs, though, which is fine for me. I process only the amout of meat I need each time. Sounds like a lot of bother, but I'm rewarded each time with praise, and the knowledge that my family is not consuming mystery meat.
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