Since this three-day weekend unofficially kicks off grilling season and we are welcoming new vendor Weston Products
to the Cooking District store
, it seemed like a perfect time to talk about grinding your own meat and seafood. Grinding your own meat is one of those professional kitchen tasks that adapts easily to the home kitchen. It doesn’t require any super specialized butchery skills or lots of equipment, just a quality grinder
— or grinding attachment on your mixer.
Why bother to grind your own when there are packages of pre-ground in your supermarket meat case? It offers an immediate flavor upgrade for your burgers, loaves, and balls. You are in charge, of both the quality and cut of the meat that makes up your meal, and you can insure that there are no additives or pink slime involved. It also drastically reduces your risk of E. coli contamination. Plus it’s fun. Really.
What You Need:
Protein or proteins of your choice
Rimmed baking sheet
Stand Mixer with a grinder attachment
A food processor
Pick your proteins: One of the best benefits of grinding your own, is coming up with your custom blends. Choose meats with a good amount of fat to ensure the most flavorful and moist result. Dark meat makes for better poultry burgers. If you are making fish burgers or balls, you will get better results with firmer, meatier types of fish, like swordfish, tuna or salmon — any fish that you would serve as a steak rather than a filet.
Select your seasonings: Dried spices as well as chopped fresh herbs, grated ginger or garlic, sliced scallions, onions or chile peppers.
Chill your meat: Cube your proteins into 1-inch chunks, place on a rimmed baking sheet and chill in your freezer for about 15 minutes. You want the protein to feel firm but still yield when you press on it with your finger. Also chill your blades, grinder attachment, and bowls until they are nearly uncomfortable to the touch. All of this cold will make your meat grind cleanly rather than tearing or getting mushy.
Start your grinding: You can either use a hand powered grinder, a stand mixer with a grinder attachment or a food processor.
For a grinder: Assembled your pre-chilled grinder. Take a large bowl of ice and set a smaller bowl inside of it to catch your meat as it comes out of the grinder. Toss your chilled protein cubes with your seasonings and add to your grinder tray in small batches. If you are using an electric grinder, keep the speed to medium and gently press the protein through.
While a food processor is quick and easy, you need to be careful — it can whip and detexturize your proteins. Make sure your bowl and blade are chilled before adding your proteins and seasonings, work in small batches and pulse only about 10 - 15 times to ensure that your meat is finely minced, not pureed.