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Mixing ground meats

post #1 of 20
Thread Starter 
Hi, all,

In making meatballs, I am combining ground beef (chuck), ground pork and ground veal.

What do you recommend:

a) combining them by hand?

b) using a food processor to combine them?

I did not buy whole pieces to grind, nor do I have a meat grinder, though I am thinking of buying an attachment for my KitchenAid mixer.

Thoughts, anyone?


post #2 of 20
Hands-down, the winner is hands! :D For one thing, it's fun. For another, you have more control. Finally, if you use the food processor, especially if you use the steel cutting blade, you are likely to end up with too-finely-ground meat. Maybe that's all right with you -- think the difference between baloney and salami in coarseness -- but to my taste, it would be too fine. Besides, it might pack into much denser meatballs, which cook up rubbery.

But mainly, it's fun to squish everything together. :lol: (wear disposable gloves if you're squeamish, or if somebody else in your family is :rolleyes: )
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
post #3 of 20
hand and don't overwork it.

but take that with a grain of salt as meatballs are on my list of "still haven't perfected it yet"

also, for next time, I buy "tri-mix" meatloaf mix that the butcher puts out its already pre-mixed, saves a little of the hassle.
post #4 of 20
Thread Starter 
thanks Suzanne & RP,

It's great to get fast and well-said responses....

post #5 of 20
I certainly agree that mixing by hand is the way to go. One trouble is that it is easy to go overboard and really squish it all too well and overwork the meat, making it turn out gummy or pasty.

It seems to me that it wasn't that long ago when we had a similar discussion, and I posted comments about using a food processor to grind some meat. I think I may have even posted a picture or two of the meatballs browning in the pan. Perhaps I'll poke around a bit later and see what it is I actually said.

Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
post #6 of 20
I use the paddle in my KA mixer. Fairly high speed in bursts until just mixed. Ice cream scoop to form them, less heat from your hands the better (and it keeps my hands from hurting from the cold).
post #7 of 20
Better a mixer than a food processor, but I agree, hand mixing is the best way to make sure you don't overmix the meat.
post #8 of 20
There's another alternative. Don't buy ground meat. Buy larger pieces and cut them into about 3/4-inch to 1-inch dice and then chop them in the food processor. Here's how:

Get your pork, veal, and beef and cut them all about the same size 3/4-inch to 1-inch works well. Don't buy pre-cut meat (like stew meat) as the pieces will generally be of different sizes and you'll end up with more work.

Once the meat is diced, mix all the pieces together and put them in the refrigerator for a couple-three hours. You want the meat to be cold. You can also put the food processor blade(s) and the bowl into the freezer or refrigerator.

When the meat is sufficiently cold, put it into the food processor, but be sure not to overfill or overload the bowl. For a pound of meat process in two or three batches, maybe even four depending on the size of your food processor. IOW, work in small batches. PULSE the meat. As the meat is processed, it will blend together, and generally no additional mixing is necessary.

Be sure the blades in your machine are sharp. I sharpen mine two or three times a year, and have one blade that is dedicated to processing meat. It's never used for nuts, vegetables (especially hard vegetables), grains, seeds ... just meat. The blade stays sharper longer.

So, equal sized dice, cold meat, small batches, PULSE, sharp and preferably cold, stainless steel blade(s).
post #9 of 20
Another great reason not to buy pre-ground meat. You don't really know what's in it!

I buy steaks and roasts and carve them up by removing anything that looks objectionable to me; tendons, connective tissue, gristle, silverskin, cartilage, etc.

Then I grind in my KA commercial mixer with the grinder attachment.

Afterwards, I grind up all the "icky" stuff, and I gotta tell ya that the "icky" stuff ground up still looks far superior to the stuff you see in the grocery store.

Makes me shudder what they throw into the commercial quality grinders that butchers use. uhwwwww! ):

(BTW: I use the icky stuff to make pet food. They don't seem to mind! :) )

post #10 of 20
By hand is the best way, if you are making huge batches a mixer and paddle will make it easier.( I am not talking home mixer} I am saying 40 quart size with at least 20# meat. The reason I do not like food processer or machine is it generates friction which in turn incorporates HEAT into the mix,and as was mentioned above makes meat go into smaller particles which will make it tougher when cooked.
post #11 of 20
Not if it's done carefully and with the right technique.
post #12 of 20
Indeed. That's why I no longer buy "hamburger" at the supermarket. Not only are the ingredients unknown, but the origin is often a mystery as well.

I will sometimes buy pre-ground meat from one of the butchers I frequent, but I know their quality and where the meat comes from, and I know how fresh it is. Still, I much prefer to chop my own.

Believe it or not, my cat sometimes turns his nose up at commercial meats - I ran out of chicken for him recently and tried to foist off a piece of breast I grabbed at a local (it pains me to say this) supermarket. He smelled it, licked it, and walked away. I had to make a special trip to the poultry store and get him a nice, fresh leg and thigh, which he devoured with gusto. He's definitely my cat <LOL>
post #13 of 20
Again Shel I am not talking about my house, I am talking commercial kitchen where you have a lot of different people making things, and you cant watch them all, And if I cant do it myself I really dont trust them to do it like I do.
post #14 of 20
A commercial kitchen is a different place ... I'd probably agree, although I do know at least one local chef who takes the time to carefully process and chop her meat.
post #15 of 20
Keep in mind that your hands are at 98.6 degrees (well maybe a bit colder but still warm). All that hand mixing can melt some of the fat and make the mix smear. If you have a huge batch to mix some crushed ice(not very much) will help keep the heat down. For the standard home kitchen where 2-4 pounds of meat may be mixed the KA with paddle introduces less heat than bare hands if you don't overmix.
post #16 of 20
Thread Starter 
Wow! what a great response, with great information.

Take-aways for me:
--mix by hand and not too much
--use an icecream scoop to form the meatballs
--food processor can be used but technique important
--KA mixer good
--grind your own from scratch.

Thanks all.

post #17 of 20
If I had time so would I, but when your doing 900 to 1000 covers a day it is not easy and we have to resort to time and labor saving methods. Also everything here is from scratch not purchased already made. Some of the batches we make ,are so large I could sometimes use a cement mixture.
post #18 of 20

Ground Meats

I hate the feel of raw meat on my hands, so use my KA with the mixing paddle.

My son put me "wise" to this....he invited DH and me to dinner where he served meatballs. His meatballs were so light (not packed and rubbery) and tasty, that I had to ask how he accomplished this. He had used his KA, and a light touch in forming the meatballs. So, have been doing the same ever since.

Hands have too much heat.....and there is the tendancy to overmix everything!
post #19 of 20
Pick out a piece of chuck, and have the butcher grind it for you. One loses a half pound, but, it is nice.
post #20 of 20

I make tender meatballs. I use a kitchen aid mixer with a paddle .I get a good mix of all ingredients without over working the meat. I bake the meatballs and they hold up great when I finish them in the sauce. makes for fork tender juicy meatballs. No mixer, Mix with a large wood spoon.

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