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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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Monday, March 15, 2010

Frugal Kitchens 101 - Grinding Your Own Meats

Frugal Kitchens 101
Ground meats especially beef have long held the reputation for a frugal meat choice. While it is true that ground meat is a good way to use cheaper, less tender cuts of meat, the idea that store bought pre-ground meat is a frugal meat choice is a myth. In my opinion a better frugal choice is to buy cheaper cuts of meat then grind them yourself. The reason for this is on any chunk of meat there can be a low level of bacteria, the worst being E. coli. If the meat is ground then left to sit for even a few hours this bacteria can multiple enough that if the meat is improperly cooked it can make you quite sick leaving long term residual effects or worse. The increased surface area greatly aids hiding spots for microbial growth and quicker spoilage times. Complicating this issue is if the commercial meat grinder is used to grind other meats besides beef such as pork or poultry then not proper cleaned cross contamination can occur. A final problem with buying ground meats especially turkey and pork is in smaller communities they simply may not be available on a regular basis. Today's Frugal Kitchens 101 gives a few tips on grinding your own meats.

Grinding your own meats can actually less espensive than buying store bought because you can take advantage of meat sales. The equipment is not expensive either ranging on the lower end about $25 to the higher end of $150. If you have a KitchenAid® stand mixer the grinder attachment will cost about $40. Here's a few tips for grinding meats and poultry:

  • Plan on cooking the meat the day you grind it. If you want to grind extra for later meals, cook it then vacuum seal for quick meal starts. If you want to freeze the ground meat raw, grind then vacuum seal and freeze immediately.
  • Trim any fat, ligment or silver covering and skin from the meat. The silver coating will clog the grinder.
  • Cut the meat into strips that will easily feed through the hopper of the grinder.
  • Place the strips in the freezer until they are very cold or just starting to freeze.
  • Put the coarse grinder plate into the grinder and tighten.
  • Feed the meat through the hopper one strip at a time, guiding with a food pusher but do not force.
  • For best results feed the ground meat through the hopper again with the fine grinder plate. Do not do this with fatty meats; only grind these meats once.
  • If you want to grind 2 kinds of meat such as beef followed by chicken the grinder should be thoroughly cleaned before switching to the next meat unless all the ground meat is to be used in the same dish (eg. 3 meat meatloaf).

2 food lovers commented:

Darlene said...

I can't afford a Kitchen aide or even a grinder. But I have learned that I can buy any meat that is on sale and have the butcher grind it for me. I've even asked them to add in some fat on a London Broil that was way too lean to make good hamburger. And here, it's a free service. In fact, they will cut or grind any piece of meat.

I used to wait until whole hams went on sale. I'd have the butcher cut off the ends and cut them up for soup/beans. I'd have him cut about 5 slices of ham from the center and then the rest of the ham was in two pieces that would easily fit into my crockpot. One time, I even had them thin slice the shank portion into breakfast steaks.

Garden Gnome said...

We deal at a local butcher (for well over 20 years) for most of our meats that aren't bought on the hoof. The problem with getting a butcher to grind meats for you occurs when you want a variety of ground meats on the same trip. They have to clean the grinder when switching from beef to pork or to poultry. So unless you hit them at the time they are grinding pork you will likely have to wait until they are grinding pork. That's the first problem but you are right they don't charge extra for the service. In fact any good butcher will cut any meat exactly how you specify as will an abattoir.