There’s nothing wrong with walking into the supermarket to purchase some ground meat, you most likely have done it a couple of times. But while this is convenient, grounding up the meat on your own has a ton of benefits.
Sure, it seems like a waste of precious time and energy, but the extra effort guarantees freshness and a better quality altogether. In this guide, we dive deep to show you the meat grinding process from start to finish. What tools do you need, the cuts to use, and even how to properly store it for future use?
Say goodbye to store-bought meat and hop onto the DIY train!
Gather Everything Necessary
Assemble all the necessary tools before you start the procedure to make sure it goes well. Bring them to close after taking them out of the kitchen cabinet or drawer. In case they haven’t been used in a while, take care to give them a quick rinse or light dusting. Your kitchen counters fall under this as well. For best safety, you want to operate with clean surfaces and tools.
As for the tools you’ll need;
• Meat grinder (you can also use a food processor)
This is the most important of all. A meat grinder is designed to grind meat so having one makes the process easier and faster. The results are also very similar to what you would buy from the store.
If you’re in the market for one, the STX Turboforce 3000 is one of the premium grinders you can possibly find. It’s designed for heavy-duty grinding owing to its 3000 watts motor. And while other regular brands come with a smaller grind head, this one scales up to size 12. In other words, you can grind 2-3 times as much meat within the same amount of time as other grinders.
Some of the outstanding features of the STX Turbo force 3000 include;
• 3 – 304 grade stainless steel cutting blades
• 3-size grinding plates
• Aluminum grinding head with an extra-large meat tray
• Meat stuffer/pusher
• 1 sausage stuffing plate
• 3-size sausage stuffing tubes
• 2 free meat holder claws
• Foot pedal (optional)
Owing to the powerful motor and large size, it’s estimated that you can grind between 180-240 lbs of meat in one hour when your steak is nicely prepped. The meat pan alone holds up to 3 lbs at once, so you don’t have to keep reloading at regular intervals.
While the STX Turbo force can do a lot of things, it is not designed to grind bone or tendons. Some people make this mistake and end up jamming the unit for good. For tougher substances, get a grinder with blades that can cut through bone.
Although a meat grinder is an ideal tool to use, if you happen not to own one, an alternative would be a food processor. Most food processors get the job done and can be an economical option rather than budgeting for a new appliance. However, expect the results to be slightly inferior to what a professional grinder can give.
Also, check our reviews for the best manual meat grinders in 2022
• Sharp knife
Apart from the grinder, get a well-sharpened knife that’s going to make cutting easy. Blunt knives only take up more time and demand a lot more energy. You may have to take a couple of minutes to polish up the edges with a sharpener before you get to work. And for safety purposes have on some food gloves.
• Quality meat
The choice of meat is critical because it determines the flavor, texture, as well as how juicy your meat is going to turn out. As a rule of thumb, an 80/20 meat to fat ratio is good, especially if you’re going to use the meat for burgers and sausages. You do not want very dry, lean meat so this is one of those scenarios where fat is your friend (of course in balanced ratios). Some examples that you can work with are- beef chuck, pork butt, or lamb shoulder. These cuts combine the right proportions of steak and fat and will produce flavorful bites.
To be clear, the chuck comprises the shoulder and neck area. Here, there are a lot of muscles, connective tissue, and fat which all combine to give a savory taste. It may take a little longer to cook and break down the tough fibers, however, the outcome is surely worth it.
As for the pork butt, (also commonly referred to as the Boston butt) it is marbled with a lot of intramuscular fat. For this reason, it’s a superior piece of meat that will render a generous amount of plump juices. Be careful not to mistake this for the pork shoulder because this is a different sub-primal cut with different qualities.
As you get to know your way around various cuts, the good news is you grow confident in experimenting with more meats. So don’t worry about fumbling around what to select in the beginning, it’s only a matter of time before you discover the many other great choices away from the chuck and Boston butt.
Step by Step Guide on Grinding Meat
Now that you have all your tools set, all that’s left is the shredding. And here is how to go about that.
1. Keep everything cold
Why this is important is because cooler temperatures enable optimal functioning. This applies both to the meat and the grinder.
The blades grind well when they have been frozen as opposed to operating under room temperature. In that case, clean up your appliance well under running water, towel dry it, and proceed to stash it in the freezer for about 20 minutes. This includes everything up to the bowl where the shredded meat collects.
To avoid the inconvenience that may come with this step, have your grinder stored in the refrigerator permanently so that you are ever ready for a grind.
2. Prepare the meat
Placing the meat whole onto the meat tray is not the way to go. The unit can’t grind up a huge chunk. Therefore, slice your chunk into sizeable strips or cubes about 1-2 inches thick.
Remember that no bone or tough sinews should be in sight at this point. Remove them beforehand so the shredding runs smoothly.
It’s better to work with frozen meat than that which hasn’t been in the refrigerator. This is because raw meat fresh from the butcher tends to be soft and slimy. It’s easy to cause an accident when you’re working with such.
To be on the safe side have the meat firm up a little so that the blades have a tighter grip. About 30 minutes in the cooler is enough for this to happen. You also do not want to freeze the meat too long that it turns rock hard.
3. Put together the grinder
Once your grinder is done chilling, it’s time to pull it out and assemble the parts. It’s a good idea to do this while your meat is cooling so that you save on time. If you’ve had experience with grinders before, putting one together should be an easy task. But if not, follow the manual for a step-by-step guide.
During this time, choose a ground plate based on how coarse or smooth you’d like your meat to turn out. A finer texture requires smaller holes and vice versa. Normally you’d have to start with a coarse plate and then follow a second time around for a super-refined outcome.
4. Start grinding
Plug your electric grinder into a power outlet and begin. Place your stripped/ cubed meat onto the meat tray and gently press it down using a meat stuffer. This is only to direct the meat into the opening because the grinder should naturally do most of the pulling in and through the blades.
Don’t forget to throw in your favorite herbs and spices so that they all blend in together. You can be as generous or conservative with the amounts based on your preference. As for salt and pepper, leave the two ingredients for later when you get to cooking.
When grinding, you want to maintain temperatures below 40F. In that case, shred in small batches as opposed to pulling out all the steak at once. Have a portion of it left in the refrigerator so that it doesn’t start to thaw? That is unless you’re working with smaller quantities that can go in all at once.
A great tip to keeping the bowl within a safe temperature range is to place a bigger bowl underneath it with water and ice cubes. This way everything stays as cold as possible.
Find out how to choose and grind the best meat for burgers
Grinding with a Food Processor
Despite a food processor being able to chop and shred a collection of vegetables, fruits, and meat, it is not the same as a grinder and the results differ too. If you can invest in a standalone grinder, or even one of those mixers with a meat grinder attachment, the better.
But for the sake of this segment, we’ll show you how to use a food processor in place of a specialized grinder. The instructions are pretty much the same.
1. The blades have to be cold
Start by cooling the equipment in the freezer for a couple of minutes. You can never over-cool your processor so do not worry even when it lasts there permanently.
2. Prepare the meat
Remove the silvery skin and other substances that the blades will find hard to go through. After prepping, freeze the meat just as you would with a grinder at hand. From here cut into equal chunks or slice against the grain before transferring into the food processor.
3. Put together the food processor
Assemble all the bits and pieces of your processor correctly. Ensure that any lids and locks are tightly fastened.
4. Grind in batches
Separate amounts that can go into the processor comfortably and begin to pulse the meat. Add your favorite spices in there as well to grind everything uniformly.
Turn up the pulse frequency gradually if you want to generate a smoother texture in the end, and if need be regrind the meat another round. Once satisfied with the outcome, proceed to cook or freeze for later use.
Benefits of Grinding Your Own Meat
To grind your meat carries a lot of advantages as we’re about to see. For starters,
- Freshness – You never know how long the meat sitting on the store shelf has lasted. It may be a couple of days or more. But when you go ahead to buy your own fresh from the market or butcher, you are guaranteed a fresher ground.
- Safety – Leaving meat out in the open promotes quicker decay due to oxidation. Commercial minced meat sometimes is left to sit idle before packaging thus giving bacteria a loophole. By grinding your meat, you are in control of how long it stays before use.
- Quality and taste – Freshness translates to better quality and taste. The juices in the meat are preserved such that when you get to cook the flavors burst out.
- Meat combinations according to your preferences – If you like to switch things up, grinding your own meat is one of the easiest ways to do that. You can experiment with different meat combinations and even customize a special mixture. Not only is it fun, but a great learning opportunity as well.
- Money-saving – The price tag on commercially ground meat is often higher. This is because it factors in the whole production process including labor. Taking care of this important step will surely save you some coins, not to mention all the other benefits highlighted above.
Best Meat Cuts for Grinding
Some meats are leaner than others and this is why combining different types makes up for this shortcoming. In the case of hamburgers and sausages, a decent amount of fat goes a long way. This can be anything between a 70/30 or 80/20 meat to fat ratio. The more fat there is, the juicier the grind.
Let’s take a closer look at what cuts work best in each case.
The Best Meat for Hamburger
The chuck is a great choice for hamburgers because it renders just the right amount of juice for a savory bite. Can you imagine snacking on a dry burger? Nobody wants that. With the chuck, you have about an 80/20 ratio which is good.
Using this cut as your primary base is a great way to build up a great patty. When you want to mix in other types consider sirloin for extra density. It has more chew in it and your burger will feel meatier.
The round cut can also be a worthy addition. It is leaner and thus adding it to your chuck can cut down the fat. As far as flavor goes, it’s not as beefy as sirloin.
Brisket in a burger is delicious! However, using just the flat will make for a lean burger. It’s better to go for the entire brisket and ground it for the perfect balance.
The Best Meat for Sausages
Just like burgers, sausages need a good dose of fat. This will vary with the kind of sausage you’re making.
Pork is the foundation of a good sausage particularly the pork shoulder. It can be supplemented with lamb or veal. Veal is meat from calves and tends to be softer than beef from older cattle.
Combining pork with either one of the two stabilizes the ratios well. If it looks like your grind could do with a little more grease, use pork back fat to drive up the percentage. Regrind it into your meat so that it incorporates evenly into the grind.
Tips for Storing Ground Meat
- In the fridge, leave it for no more than 1-2 days for maximum freshness. While frozen, it can stay up to 4 months.
- Avoid very long storage because they end up degrading the quality and taste of your meat.
- Before storing ensure to wrap the meat well in an airtight bag for moisture preservation.
- Storage should be in the coldest part of your refrigerator (below 40°C).
- Use the lowest shelf to prevent juices from leaking onto other foods.
Tips for Preparing Burgers
- Fat helps to bind your patties such that the meat sticks together.
- If you want a leaner burger, you could replace fat with eggs or breadcrumbs.
- When using breadcrumbs add liquid such as soy sauce, mustard, or Worcestershire to avoid drying out the meat even more.
Compared to buying from a store, grinding your own meat is the better approach on so many levels. Only ensure that while doing it, you use the right equipment, follow the recommended procedure step by step, and do not forget to include a good amount of fat. Best of luck!