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Ontario, Canada
I am a wife, mother and grandma who enjoys the many aspects of homemaking. A variety of interests and hobbies combined with travel keep me active. They reflect the importance of family, friends, home and good food.
Cook ingredients that you are used to cooking by other techniques, such as fish, chicken, or hamburgers. In other words be comfortable with the ingredients you are using.
--Bobby Flay

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Saturday, February 24, 2007

Homemade Meatballs

Meatballs are everyone's favourite not only because they are so tasty but because they are very versatile. They can be made with different kinds of meat or poultry so the possibilities are endless. I bought the Kitchen Aid food grinder attachment mainly for grinding chicken, turkey and pork. The availability of these ground meats tend to sporadic here and while we get ground pork when we buy a half pig, there never seems to be enough ground pork. My husband has a poker game today so I decided it would be the perfect time to try out the grinder.

Kitchen Aid Food Grinder Attachment

The food grinder attachment comes with two grinding plates, fine and coarse. It is easy to assemble and comes appart for easy cleaning. The parts are dishwasher safe with the exception of the knife and grinding plates. The wooden food stomper has now been replaced with a combined heavy plastic food stomper wrench that is dishwasher safe as well. An additional food tray can be ordered to provied a convenient surface of additional food. When doing bigger lots it would be quite beneficial. This grinder can also be used for grinding cooked meats, firm vegetables, dried fruits, cheese, and bread for crumbs. The food processor is already starting to sulk!

Grinding meat works best when the meat is cold and cut into long, thin strips. It is best to work with a well sharpened knife. For this ground meat I used a 5 lb shank roast bought from the butchershop. This was the cut recommended for lean ground beef.

Once the roast was cut into strips, I started grinding. My only problem was having to stand on a wide based step stool in order to feed the strips into the hopper. After the first pass through using the coase grinding plate, the meat was again ground using the fine grinding plate.

Fresh Ground Shank Roast

Surprisingly, grinding twice which is recommended did not take much time at all. I think it helped that I've used a manual food strainer for quite some time so the method was basically the same only a lot less work. I will definitely be buying the Kitchen Aid food attachment shortly to replace my manual one.

The ground meat was so fresh looking! I usually make meatballs in large batches then flash freeze to keep separate, package into meal sized bags and vacuum seal. These are always handy for quick meals. Because I will be using the meatballs in various ways, I tend not to season a lot. The meat will later pick-up the flavour of whatever sauce I use. I also do not like using any fillers in my meatballs.

Milk is used as the binder resulting in a very moist, meaty meatball.

5 lb lean ground beef
1 - 2 tbsp Worchestershire sauce
1 tsp onion powder (optional)
1 tsp ground cumin (optional)
milk - about 1 c
grapeseed oil

Start with very cold ground meat. Add seasonings and mix well with your hands. Gradually mix in milk until the meat will hold shape when pressed into a ball about the size of a walnut. Pour about 1 tbsp of grapeseed oil into a large sautee pan and heat. Form meatballs using a meatball former. Carefully add to the pan as they are made. Turn the first ones as browned then removed when browned through. Continue in this manner adding newly made meatballs, flipping and removing until all the meatball mixture is used.

Once all the meatballs are cooked, if freezing, flash freeze them then package. If using right away, proceed with your favourite sauce.

Hawiian Sweet & Sour

I will admit to cheating with this sauce. The meatballs were destined to travel to today's poker party. The host specifically reqesting this particular sauce that he had had before but could not find which foiled my plans for my homemade sweet & sour sauce. I found some at Sam's Club so decided to use that. The sauce is Mr. Yoshida's Hawiian Sweet & Sour. It was just mixed into the meatballs in the crockpot then the cold meatballs were packed into a cooler for travelling. Still my husband declared them quite good even though they were still cold. All he has to do is plug the crockpot in when he gets there and part of their all day snacking. Warning: Poker parties are hazardous to your waistline!

2 food lovers commented:

Shreela said...

Does grinding your own meat save you money, or is it close in price to store-ground? I watch my price/pound vs package-size vs fat-content, but I've never thought to compare price/pound to unground before.

I would think it's much healthier to ground our own because e. coli and mad cow are supposedly connected to sloppy processing. It seems to me there's less chance of being contaminated with intestinal or neural parts if we ground our own.

So even if the prices were similar, the peace of mind would be worth the extra work. Thanks!

Garden Gnome said...

It really depends on whether you can find meat on sale suitable for grinding. Chances are good if you watch the sales, you will be able to find it cheaper. If so, then yes it is cheaper. And for me it means I can grind other meats like chicken, turkey and pork that are sporadic at best in the stores here.

Not only is it healthier, I think it is fresher and tastier. I know the ground meat has not been sitting around for any length of time. I'm able to control the quality and that is reflected in the taste of the final dish.

Tonight I'm making a chicken loaf with fresh ground boneless skinles chicken (will post an entry tomorrow).

Oh and I the attachment cost me under $25 on the KA website because I bought refurbished. It looks brand new! So keep an eye out on that section if you have a KA.