I’ve never been asked to do a write-up on a certain topic before, but this week a reader and a fellow member on the Big Green Egg Forum, who goes by the name Hibby, asked me if I would consider doing one on grinding meat. I thought about it for probably half a millisecond and decided I would. After all, I’m just here to help out where I can. If anybody else has any questions or suggestions, throw ’em at me.
So, you’ve decided to grind your own meat? Maybe it’s because you are concerned about safety, maybe you are concerned about taste or maybe you want to make sausage. Don’t know if you should grind your own meat? Here are some reasons:
Safer – You can’t control the cleanliness of the factory or butcher shop your meat was ground in. Maybe its clean, maybe it’s not, but meat is more likely to be exposed to E. Coli and other harmful bacteria in a factory than if you do it in your own clean kitchen. Your kitchen is clean, right?
Fresher – Contrary to what you may believe, most meat is not ground at your local grocery store. No, its more likely to be ground at a factory somewhere, then shipped to your store where it sits around for another few days or a week before you buy it. As it sits there, patiently waiting for you to pick it up, its losing quality and flavor.
Fat – You can control the fat content in your own grind, whether you want a super low and healthy 95/5% blend, or a good ole 80/20% blend (I wouldn’t use anything less for my burgers), wouldn’t you rather decide how much is in your blend?
Customize – Different cuts of meat offer different tastes and textures, not to mention fat content. Try experimenting with cuts like chuck, sirloin, brisket, short ribs and even ox-tail. Check out the article on Serious Eats about Mastering the Art of Burger Blending for an in-depth look at how various cuts will affect your burgers. BTW, save skirt steak for fajitas, it doesn’t do much for taste or texture in burgers. Trust me on this one. 😉
Quality – You have no control over the quality of the meat being used in the grind when it comes from a factory. It could be an old dairy cow for all you know. By blending your own burgers, you can control the quality from select to choice to prime. Corn fed or grass-fed? Locally raised? That’s all up to you. Heck, you can even spring for Wagyu if you like.
Economics – face it, like most things in life, if you do it yourself, its cheaper. Next time you are at the store, compare a chuck roast to ground chuck. Which ones cheaper? The chuck roast. They are both the same thing, you’ve just paid somebody to run it through a grinder. Why pay somebody else when you can easily do it at home.
Ground Pork – I don’t know where you normally shop, but where I’m at, finding ground pork is pretty much hit or miss. Sometimes they have it, sometimes they don’t. When they do have it, it’s stupid ridiculous on price, considering the price of pork butts. Ground pork butt is the primary ingredient in sausage. I’d rather pay the $1.99 a lb for a pork butt and do it myself than pay what they are asking for…that is if they even have it.
Wild Game – I know…this probably won’t concern most of you, but if you are a hunter, why wouldn’t you grind your own meat? Sure, you can take your deer, wild hog or other game to a game processor and have them do it for you and there is nothing wrong with that. They’ll even turn it into sausage for you if you like, but there is a certain pride knowing you shot an animal, skinned it, field dressed it, broke it down, ground up the meat and made your own ground meat or sausage. At least to me there is.
Wow…when I decided to write this, I thought I could do it all in one short post. Guess I got more to say than I originally thought. I’m going to break this into a 3 part section with Part 2 being materials you need and Part 3 covering how to grind your own meat. I’ll try and have Part 2 up tomorrow and Part 3 the following day. If not, I’ll definitely try and get both up by the end of the week, so stay tuned and if you have an idea or a topic you would like me to cover, I’m all ears.