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Best device to chop cooked meat

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
I am trying to find out what is the best way to chop/dice/pulverize meat. I had lap band surgery and can only eat chicken if it is really, really finely chopped. Should I get a food processor, meat grinder, or something else?
post #2 of 14
How much meat are you looking to process?
How often?
What budget?
post #3 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanks for responding. I am looking to dice enough meat just for my family of three - so I don't need large capacity. As far as price, I'd like to keep it below $300. I guess my main objective is to get the one that will actually do the job properly.
post #4 of 14
I see...

Are you looking to be dicing the meat for the long term (+ 3 months)?

Because if you are looking to dice meat finely in say 1-2mm 'cubes' and I'm not sure how much meat your family eats and how often, I can't help but feel that a chef's or any other longish knife able to be rocked can make do. That and a large enough cutting board helps.

But unless you're looking to 'puree' meat for the long term, I can't see the point of getting machinery involved. Yes food processors and meat grinders do have other functions, but I leave the decision whether you're going to make use of the other functions to justify making a purchase. For me $300 to puree meat for 3 people (even hungry ones) isn't money well spent.

Decisions, decision...:)
post #5 of 14
Thread Starter 
Okay, I'll try to explain my needs. I have had gastric surgery placing a lap band around my stomach. The opening that food must fit through is about the diameter of a straw. That means, if I don't get my meat at least small enough to work its way through the opening the size of a straw it will come back up. Another complication is that I am handicapped and don't have the physical ability to stand and chop using a knife. So, I am searching for the best device that will chop my meat and any food that is difficult to eat unless it is small enough to fit through a straw (with reasonable amount of chewing). I have been able to eat some cuts of beef if they are really tender and fish but I have never been able to eat chicken or pork or any other food that is the least bit difficult to chew into oblivion. This will continue for the rest of my life. I need to eat more than beef or fish. I'm really tired of throwing up. So, I'm looking for the cheapest thing I can find that can actually chop up my meat without overheating. It will also be helpful to slice and chop other foods for me too and save me from having to stand and do it all by hand. Thanks for any help.
post #6 of 14
Thank you for sharing more information for us to help understand you situation to offer better advice.

I have limited experience with meat mincers, I've used those bulky 20kg-ish commercial kitchen one to process three food items; meat, chili and garlic (and bread to ease up clean). But I have never used or even seen one of those smaller home kitchen tabletop models, but from my limited research they do come with a low price tag.
The mincer is a very specialized machine and it gets the job done, even if it means turn food into marsh. But I personally wouldn't be stuffing cooked food into a mincer unless it has been starilized properly as raw meat is it's main duty.

I find food processor only good for blixing food into a smooth emulsion, anything else is just clumsy. I haven't used a Robot Coupe for vegetable prep in a commercial setting and I've broken too many household food processor to make use and get any good value out of them; so I can't give you an opinion on how a good household food processor will perform on food items that are not going to be reduced into a soup in a sense.

I do like the idea of a stand mixer which decent ones have vegetable slicer, shredder and mincer attachments.
But the problem is the rather high initial investment costs in the machine and the appropriate accessories. After that the mixer can mix bread, pasta dough, make for easy whisking/whipping; with the attachments food mincing and mechanised vegetable prep can be done.

A quick browse through the Everything Kitchen website shows some pretty resonably priced machines that might meet your needs.

I hope someone else on this forum can find a good priced machine to fit your requirements.
post #7 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanks for your help. Guess it's not an easy question to answer as I was hoping. Guess I will have to get a device that is good for more than meat in case it doesn't do the job the way I was hoping. At least it will simplify my slicing/dicing of everything else.
post #8 of 14
Actually, there are a lot of good solutions. Food mills, processors, graters and grinders, would all satisfy your needs.

Food mills: Better with food that's already soft to begin with. You can get consistencies between "crumbly" and "baby-food puree" depending on your choice
of disk. There are several models, including ones with electric motors. Sold everywhere. Fantes has a good selection, and Amazon too. You don't want one too large, and you'd be better off with stainless or even plastic than the classic tinned steel. I don't know if you can get a motor driven mill that's real high quality. Most of the motor models are baby food specific, and since babies don't stay in the baby food phase that long, the mills aren't built to the highest standards.

Processors: A valuable kitchen appliance that's worth having for all sorts of food prep. For cooked meat you can use one of the grating discs as well as the steel knife to control textures. If you buy a processor spend more than a $100 and get a good one -- Cuisinart, KitchenAid, or similar. OTOH, you don't need a Robot Coupe. No problem with leaving it out on the counter all the time. Only downside: A nuisance to clean.

Graters: All kinds of choices, including electric driven accessory packages which mount on stand mixers. In your case, the height of the attachment and the weight of a stand mixer might be too much of an obstacle. But if you've already got a KitchenAid, can and use it comfortably -- why the heck not?

Grinders: Another good choice. Again, you control the consistency of the product with a choice of plates. There are grinder accessories for stand mixers that have the same problems as the grater packages + they're even more of a b**ch to clean. All grinders, attachment or stand-alone, are a pain to keep clean as you have to disassemble them and not only clean the loose parts, but the food path too. But, a small stand-alone is actually easier to clean than the KitchenAid accessory. They're not as common on the counter as a food processor, and not nearly as versatile. Still, within the confines of what they do -- they do it better.

There's one available on e-bay which is reasonably priced at around $100, and about which I've heard good things from sausage makers. I can't speak to its longevity or quality as I've had no experience myself. All of my forays into charcuterie have been with a KitchenAid attachment. Anyway, here's a link: NEW FOR HUNTERS 1.6 HP 1000W ELECTRIC MEAT GRINDER 1200 - eBay (item 120223704098 end time Feb-22-08 23:08:45 PST)

Here's another link for a grinder kit I've heard even better things about, and comes with darn near everything you can think of. I've heard the seller is reliable, carries all the replacement parts, accessories, blah, blah, blah. #64350 TSM-8 Meat Grinder - 64350

One last thought: Please do a research on a type of knife called a "mezzaluna." It's a knife designed for people who can't use a knife for one reason or another. Zero learning curve, efficient, and fun! The physical motions required to chop come from the hands, and are accomplished with the elbows down; unlike a chef's knife which pumps the upper arm at the shoulder and requires a high, pivoting elbow and straight wrist. The mezzaluna won't make you lean over the product and lift your elbow. With the right board or bowl, you should be able to do a darn good job on your lap or with the board in front of you at a TV or dining table. I hate to think you can't have fun cooking.

post #9 of 14
The simplest solution would be a food processor AND a food mill. The food processor will reduce the meat to small pieces, and the food mill will make it almost a paste (like pate).

You said earlier that you're interested in well-flavored food that is appropriate for your physical needs. Here's a recipe I love that fits that bill. You may need to reduce the amount of fat used (or replace the fat with chicken broth). It's adapted from a recipe by James Beard.

Chicken (or chicken and pork) Pate
8 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon quatre epices seasoning (a mixture of ground white pepper, ground ginger, ground nutmeg and ground cloves)
2 large chicken breasts
1 pork chop, 6-7 ounces
3/4 pound sweet butter, softened **
2 tablepoons cognac
2-3 dashes hot pepper sauce
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil or tarragon (or 1 teaspoon dried herbs)
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup shelled pistachio nuts (optional)

Combine the 8 tablespoons butter with the onion, celery, carrot, salt and spice in a heavy sauce pan. Add the chicken and pork chop. Cover and cook over medium heat until the meats are tender. Remove the meat from the pan and cool. Trim away skin, fat and bone.

Process the meats in a food processor or grind them in a meat grinder using the finest blade. Beat into the softened sweet butter, adding the cognac, pepper sauce, herbs, pepper and nuts as you beat. Taste the pate for seasoning. Put the pate in a bowl, cover tightly, and chill.

**If you want to cut down on the butter, you can work in chicken STOCK. The gelatinized stock will help hold the pate together. Or, you can dissolve a bit of gelatin in chicken broth to get the smooth texture.

In the original recipe, this filling is used as follows:
Lay slices of prosciutto side by side on plastic wrap, overlapping the slices to make a large sheet of the meat 12" wide . Put the filling across the bottom of the slices and roll tightly. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill several hours. Slice thinly and serve with crackers or crostini.
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post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the recipe. Sounds great. The advice for chopping and grinding sounds like a great idea too. Thanks.
post #11 of 14
Thread Starter 
boar d laze, thank you for all the great info. Now I have a lot to think about - including the mezzaluna. Had never heard of that. Yes, I would love to make cooking a pleasure again instead of a chore. I also want to make eating a pleasure again. Thanks for guiding me in that direction.
post #12 of 14
This is only my opinion, but I think you probably got the lap band to curtail your eating and lose weight. Trying to figure out how to mechanically puree the same amount of food you normally eat to pass through a straw is not the point.

I think you could eat an ounce or two of protein (chicken), and finely chew it to the consistency you require. Small shrimp are easy to do this also, as small pieces of cooked vegetables and fruits.

If you're having trouble getting your protein down, you might consider protein shakes or cottage cheese or gently scrambled eggs. But chew chew chew your food very well.

If you get desparate, you can eat jarred baby food while you're getting used to the new life.

Does your hospital where you had the procedure done have a support group? I bet you could find answers there also.

post #13 of 14

Glad I could help. :D

post #14 of 14
Reading your full story, I really think you should get a food processor. It's easy to use and operate, it will do dozens and dozens of other kitchen chores. It will reduce your meat to fine shreds - or to paste - as you require.

For the first 25 years of my marriage, the only thing I cooked was popcorn. When we bought a Cuisinart, I got to playing with it (I'm a tool nut), took a number of cooking classes, and now do about half the family cooking. If anything will put the fun back in your cooking, I think that is the best bet.

Best of luck

travelling gourmand
travelling gourmand
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