Saturday, July 3, 2010

Adventures in Meat Grinding

With fingers trembling in anticipation, I folded back the lid of the smallish box and pulled out the current object of my obsession. So white...so smooth...such shiny glinting metallic accents.

Ever since I had seen one of these beauties online, I knew I needed to make one mine.  And now...the dream had finally come true.

I eagerly tried it on....a perfect fit...like it was made for it to be there.

And then...I turned it on and smashed a whole bunch of glistening beef down it's gullet.

Yes...it's true...I finally tried out my grinder attachment for Mabel, my "majestic yellow" KitchenAid Stand Mixer.  It was a red-letter moment for me and the fam.


And now...that moment was finally here. After much debating and doing a quick research of the product reviews on Amazon on the fly at Costco in front of the meat section, I selected my cut of beef: Beef Round Eye Round. (Don't ask me why the word "round" has to be in there twice...I will be demonstrating my complete and utter lack of beef knowledge soon.) The price...$3.49 a pound, with 4.29 lbs purchased total. I'm pretty sure that it is a round roast -- my second choice since a sirloin round seemed to cost a ridiculous amount. I also bypassed the filet mignon roast...pretty, lightly red and devoid of fat. However, I couldn't justify the $30 price tag. I also eschewed some of the more fatty chunks o' meat because I didn't want to have to saw it off, and I didn't want to have to eat it later in ground up form.

So, I still have some meat research to do...obviously...if I want to make this not only a healthful option, but economical as well.

So, you might be asking...why grind your own meat at all?  Well, I mentioned it a previous blog about how I have become a little grossed out by the way our ground beef is processed. Many different cuts of beef from many places on the cow, and not just that cow, but several cows, freaks me out. It seems to be a recipe for disaster when you take several different animal cuts and smash them together in ground form. What if 3 are perfectly healthy animals, but the fourth is a bit sickly? How would you begin to even extract that meat from the other 3 once it's all ground up together?  The answer is...you can't.

What's really attractive to me is that I can select my own cut of meat from ONE animal and then grind it myself. Barring actually choosing my own animal to be slaughtered and buy cuts of meat from, I figure this is as good as it gets right now (although I hope that's an option for us soon.)

So, there I was with my beef round eye round, cutting board and somewhat dull Cutco knife (which I need to sharpen for next time) and a whole lot of ambition. I followed the directions as to putting on the attachment (easy) after I washed all the parts with warm, soapy water and had selected the "coarse" grinder blade. I sliced that roast into thin pieces...


....and then turned on the mixer and started feeding them through.

And as easy at that, the meat started coming out...well, ground up. It looked a little bit funny...like fat red worms, but it was like sweet vision to me.


The directions said to send it through twice. However, after trying a few handfuls, it didn't seem to be making it any smaller (I did use the coarse grinder blade after all), so I quickly abandoned that idea. We mostly use our ground beef for casseroles, enchiladas and tacos, etc. If I were doing hamburgers, I would probably opt for the fine grinder blade. I sent through a couple of slices of bread (as suggested by an Amazon review) to clean out the innards of the blade casing, and then I put the pieces in the dishwasher and washed the blades by hand and left them to air dry.

- Total time to cut meat into strips: 10 minutes (would have been faster if the knife were sharpened)

- Total time to grind 4 lbs of beef: 6 minutes

- Total Ziplocks of 1 lb. of ground beef: 4

So, what's my verdict? I honestly didn't know what to expect, but the ease with which the meat went down into the hole and then was pulled through and ground up and pushed out the plate was amazing. I didn't need to use the little "push tool" very much at all. The pieces of beef seem to slide through on their own. I definitely think that this doing this entire process 1 or 2 times a month is worth the 20 minutes or so of my time. The peace of mind is already priceless.  Now...I just need to update you with how it cooks up and tastes. The round eye had hardly any fat and I trimmed off any that was there. Apparently, it will cook up pretty quickly and won't stick to the pan.

And...after doing a little bit of additional research, I have learned that relatively cheap cuts of beef (flank, chuck roasts) seem to be what I need to buy. So, that's what I will purchase the next time, and what I'll keep my eye out for in the sales flyers.

So, next up will probably be grinding my own turkey breast...or chicken.  And apparently I should be able to use the grinder on some strawberries for jam...after a thorough washing and sterilization of course.

Stay tuned...

UPDATE:  So, I cooked up some of the meat for enchiladas from this batch that I ground the other day...wow! I was pleasantly surprised. Meat cooked up tender and moist and actually, I had an excess of water that I needed to drain out, but no visible fat. I'm loving it!

3 comments:

Lori said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Very nice research here! (And don't forget about that "baked meatballs" recipe I recently posted!) When cooking the meat, depending on what you're making and since you've removed most of the fat (aka "moisture") how will you add moisture to the meat so that it doesn't get too tough? Add other ingredients?

Amy said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Very cool! Now I have attachment lust. I have to get the grinder and the food strainer in order to do less painful pasta sauce this summer. We'll see how that goes. . .

Austen_gal said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

LJ...not sure about how I'll handle the moisture issue. I'll let you know...I know there is some throughout the meat (a bit). And I would LOoooove to try out those baked meatballs. Thanks for suggesting it..