When one thinks of Heritage or trail cooking, the idea of ground meat seems a bit out of place… but is it?
With the invention of the hand cranked meat grinder came a hoard of new recipes.The first Meat grinder was invented back in the 1800s by a German revolutionist, named Karl Friedrich Christian Ludwig Freiherr Drais von Sauerbronn, also known as Karl Drais. Don’t you just love those easy to pronounce German names?
The Germans were great sausage makers and when they immigrated to America they brought their recipes and kitchen tools with them. American housewives instantly saw the advantages of the German hand cranked meat grinder. Before that time, not wanting to waste even the slightest meat, the scraps and fat hunks were generally thrown into the family stew pot making for some barely edible dinners. The meat grinder also made possible sausages that were of a lighter texture without the large pieces of meat and fat in it. Prior to this, one had to use a knife or meat mincer in order to produce even the crudest form of ground meat.
By 1900, nearly every household in America owned one of these hand cranked meat grinders. Today you can buy aftermarket grinders that fit an assortment of stand mixers.So, without any further history lesson lets grind our own meat!
Why grind your own when it’s readily available at the grocery store?
The first reason is sanitation the second cost and the third quality. Ground meat is made from scrap meat. Many of these scraps have questionable beginnings. Remember, in a meat processing plant, not one ounce of meat is wasted ( even meat that falls to the floor). It’s dirty, that’s why it is advisable to cook ground meat until it’s well done. Unfortunately, by the time it’s safe to eat there is little taste left in it. Ground meat made from roast etc is a much safer form of meat. Very few roast fall to the floor.
Do you really believe they grind up sirloin steaks to make ground sirloin? Well, lets talk scraps again… Grinding your own makes such a tasty ground beef that you’ll never buy ground beef again. Plus, since it’s a ‘safe’ cut of meat you can finally have your medium or even rare burger again. Really!
I buy lean top round roast for $2.88 a pound. At Wal Mart ground chuck is almost $5 a pound. I also ask the meat cutter for a couple pounds of beef fat that I add to my ground mix. I try to achieve as close to 80/20 grind (80% meat and 20% fat). This ratio makes awesome burgers and meat loafs.
So here’s the pictorial of grinding meat into hamburger.
The first thing you want to do is trim off all the large pieces of fat from the roast and grind it along with the extra fat from the butcher. I shield my grinder in aluminum foil to prevent wearing half my meat.
First grind is using the 3/8th inch die for fat and meat. 2nd grind you will use the 1/8th inch die.
In order to prevent contaminating the fat and the roast with bacteria that may be hiding in my kitchen, I place the ground fat in a cloth bag and dip it in a boiling pot of water for 30 seconds. Afterward, I then place each roast also in the boiling water for 30 seconds. The fat and the outer layer of the roast will turn grey in color, that’s normal.
Slice the roast into 3/4 inch thick slices, the slice the slices once again to make 3/4″ X 3/4″ thick pieces of roast. Doing this allows for much faster grinding.
You will grind your meat and fat twice. The first grind will be using the larger of the die plates (3/8″). After this, you’ll regrind this using the smaller of the dies (1/8″).
This is the fat during the second grind. Note the grey color of the blanched fat.
After you have reground the fat and meat using the smallest die, LIGHTLY toss the ground mixture until well mixed. DO NOT compress the meat as this will make for heavy dense burgers. The same is true when forming the meat patties! Gently form it into the size of patty you want and remember to press your thumb in the center to make a small divot. Doing this will prevent the burger from becoming a football. By gently forming (never use a burger press!) the patty, it allows the melting fat to travel throughout the cooking burger. This also prevents an under cooked center.
Last but not least, package your freshly ground beef into 1# packs to be kept fresh or frozen or you can pre-make a bunch of burgers and freeze them.