I’m here to tell you, buying your own meat and grinding hamburger meat is not overrated.
David and I finally broke down and bought the meat grinding attachment of our mixer to grind our own hamburger meat. We did it! We ground our own hamburger meat!
We have actually made burgers from fresh ground meat a couple of times now and the results were DELICIOUS! Store-bought ground beef is convenient, but grinding your own hamburger meat for burgers, meatballs, chili or even meatloaf are all taken to a whole new level.
Today, I thought I would share a little Grinding Hamburger Meat 101 with you. I’m not saying that grinding meat two times makes us experts on the subject of grinding hamburger meat by any means, but I think we can offer you some insight into the process, based on our recent experiences and share some of the information we have researched about grinding hamburger meat.
So let’s jump into this grinding hamburger meat, shall we?
Grinding Hamburger Meat 101:
The best part about grinding hamburger meat yourself is being able to have total control over what goes into your hamburger meat. Not to mention you get the freshest quality meat possible. I recently read a disturbing article over at AmazingRibs.com, about what the USDA allows and considers acceptable for human consumption. We’re talking additives, ammonia and who knows how long the product had been frozen before grinding. I seriously don’t want to think about what I have eaten, but it sure was good after being licked by grill flames. Quality is really important to us and quality makes a difference in how your food tastes. Making really great hamburger starts with the meat selection.
#1 MEAT SELECTION: What’s in the Grind
Fat equals juiciness and flavor, people! This is why the lean-to-fat ratio in ground beef is critical for locking in moisture and for great beef flavor. In our opinion, if you want a good burger, 80/20 is definitely the best blend when grinding hamburger meat. 20% fat is ideal if you want to cook your burger anywhere from medium-rare to medium-well. Of course, you may be like my mama and want your beef well done, if you like your burger well-done, then maybe you should be more like 40% fat. If you want it to be really rare, you would bring down the fat content. Trust me, you don’t want a lot of unrendered fat in your burger.
When putting together your burgers cuts of meat, you should always be concerned with the quality of the meat. Sometimes that means paying a little more money. High-end cuts of meat, such as porterhouse or filet mignon are not necessary for really good burgers. If that suits your fancy, by all means go right ahead; just don’t forget to leave money in the budget for good wine and beer. Am I right?!?!
No matter what meat selections you make, always remember to keep a good 80/20 ratio.
SIRLOIN TIP: Sirloin Tip comes from the thigh part of the leg round or hip of the cow. It’s an economically lean horseshoe-shaped cut, with robust beefy flavor.
BRISKET: Brisket comes from the belly of a cow, with moderate to low-fat content, that is really beefy, because it is a muscle that is used everyday. It really makes a nice rich burger.
CHUCK-EYE: Chuck is an amazing cut of beef that comes from the shoulder of a cow. It’s marbled throughout with delicious, juicy fat and a cow has a lot of it, in comparison to other cuts. If you used nothing else, always use chuck. It has the most flavor and guarantees you to create a top-notch burger.
For our burgers, we used a third each of Chuck, New York Strip and Sirloin Tip the first time we ground our burgers and Chuck, Brisket and Sirloin Tip for the second batch. We used the New York Strip the first grind, because of our limitations in the meat case. The main difference in our two burger blends was Brisket versus New York Strip. There was a slight difference in the richness of the burger as well as a textural difference because the brisket tends to add a nice graininess to the meat that we really liked.
#2 THE MEAT GRINDER: The right tool for the job
Even if you do not have a meat grinder at home, you don’t have to miss out on an opportunity to grind your own meat. There are some folks that use a food processor to do the trick. In my honest, personal opinion, I have never been able to get a food process to treat food the way it should or how I want it to, so I do not recommend it. I would use a manual hand-operated grinder before using a food processor. A manual grinder is another option to grinding your own hamburger. This is the same type of meat grinder used in the olden days. They are still available today at reasonable prices and they last forever. Perhaps a grandparent has one in the cabinet that hasn’t been used in decades?
You could also ask your butcher to grind up a meat selection of your choice, but where’s the fun in that?
If you have a KitchenAid stand mixer, you can purchase a relatively inexpensive grinding attachment. We are impressed with ours. The grinder attachment is easy to assemble, dismantle and clean, with a very consistent grind using a coarse or fine grind metal die, that are included. You will want to use the coarse grinding die for grinding hamburgers.
#3 GRINDING THE MEAT: How to grind chunks of meat into burgers
Using a sharp knife, remove any silverskin, cartilage and bones. Our first batch of ground hamburger had to be stopped midway through to clean out the die. The silverskin is tough and will not grind.
Cut the meat into 1 to 1 ½-inch cubes.
Now it’s up to you whether or not to chill the meat. Most articles I have read say to chill the meat well after cutting it. Some even go as far as to put the meat into the freezer for about 20 to 30 minutes prior to grinding. In our experience, the meat was still pretty chilly from the refrigerator, and we did not bother. David worked fast to cut it up and the meat ground up nicely as it was. However, it is important to keep in mind that the warmer the meat gets, the softer it becomes and the fat tends to become pulpy and mealy when it’s ground.
Food-related illnesses can be life threatening! Cold meat is important for food safety. Meat should remain cold at all times. Don’t let it sit out while you go outside to talk to your neighbor or something. Make sure you wash your hands and keep the surface clean before and after grinding the meat.
When you finish grinding the meat, clean the grinder thoroughly with hot soapy water, even before it goes into a dish washer. If you do not have a dishwasher (why the hell don’t you?), it may be a good idea to submerge the parts of the grinding mechanism in hot boiling water to sanitize them.
Store any unused ground meat in an airtight zip top bag inside the fridge or place the meat in a freezer bag until ready to use.
The best way to check out the flavor of your efforts is to form the ground meat into patties, crack open a beer and fire up the grill! That’s exactly what David and I did this past fourth of July. We celebrated with fresh ground good ol American cheeseburgers!
We used our Build A Better Burger guide and made some amazing cheeseburgers with this amazingly fresh beef. David made his famous BBQ Bacon Cheese Burgers (I should probably share the recipe with you sometime?) and painted on some Classic Barbecue Sauce on his. We even threw on a few hot dogs too!
When the patties were about done, David cheesed them all up.
That evening we sat down to some pretty amazing cheeseburgers!
Burger blending is an art and it involves a lot of trial and error. Take control of what you consume and try grinding your own blend. We can’t wait to experiment some more. Perhaps we will do some sliders with Mix-Ins? Stay tuned…
Have fun and enjoy!