Chef Notes: Grinding Your Own Meat

Chef Notes: Grinding Your Own Meat

I was on a quest this weekend to make a batch of meatballs. I get these cravings from time-to-time and eventually I have to give in. I headed to the grocery store to get my ingredients.  I was happy with the ground beef, it was on sale for $2.99 lb.  Then I grabbed the ground veal.  It was $4.99 lb, not so great.  Then I jumped on the pork.  It was also $4.99 lb and I got a little irritated. $4.99 lb is crazy especially with a pork shoulder sitting there at $1.79 lb. I double checked the beef and veal and couldn’t beat the price per pound with any of the cuts available, so I stuck with the pre-ground, grabbed that pork shoulder, and threw it in my buggy.

On the way home, I planned my grinding strategy. Grinding your own meat is easy, but it does require planning to keep it safe. As soon as I got home, I put the grinder attachment for my Kitchen Aid in the freezer and made sure I had enough ice. I put the pork shoulder in the freezer to get it nice and cold. Remember that ground meat has about a million times the amount of surface area than a solid cut of meat. Surface area is where bacteria thrive so it’s important to keep your meat cold. I took two shallow roasting pans, filled one with ice and put the other directly on top. This is going to be for your chunks of meat. Then I put ice in a large mixing bowl with another smaller bowl nesting on top. That was for my ground meat. I made sure I had a very sharp carving knife and a large cutting board set up and ready to go.  I also grabbed a few zip top bags, my kitchen scales, and a Sharpee.

The next step is to remove any bones. My pork shoulder only had a sliver so getting it out wasn’t difficult. I threw the bone in one of my stock bags in the freezer and cut the roast into about 2” cubes. Keep in mind that they do not have to be pretty, they’re just going into the grinder. What’s important is to work quickly and put the chunks onto the roasting pan that you have over ice so they stay cold. When you’re done, place the chunks of meat into the freezer while you clean up your cutting area. Then assemble your grinding attachment. Start with the largest grind and get going, let your ground meat fall into the bowl you have nesting over ice. As soon as you’re finished, put your ground meat into the freezer while you prepare to run it through a second time on either the medium or small grinding die, depending on how coarsely you would like the finished product. Take this time to clean your grinding attachments thoroughly with soapy hot water. Throw those back in the freezer for a few minutes or give them a quick ice bath to chill the parts back down. Then grind your meat a second time, also into a bowl nesting on a bowl of ice.  As soon as you’re done, weigh your meat out, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and stuff into a zip top bag, label it, and throw it in the freezer.

I got six pounds of ground pork for just under $2.00 lb. Now imagine being able to do this with turkey, chicken, beef, even seafood. Use your head and don’t put in cartilage or bones. You can include as much or as little fat as you would like. Logan even got into it and helped with the grinding. It’s a great project for the kids and takes very little time, just a little planning.

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