Labor Day weekend is the perfect time for that last summer BBQ but instead of going to the store and buying pre-made hamburger patties or a pound of ground meat, I’d challenge you to try – JUST TRY – grinding your own and see if it doesn’t change your world forever. Here are just a few reasons to try it:
- Grinding your own can reduce your risk of contracting foodborne illness like E-Coli.
- Fresh ground meat has a more tender and juicy consistency and more flavorful taste.
- The combinations are endless – you can mix and match different cuts and types of meat for some awesome flavor duos and trios.
Now here are just some of the many reasons you’re probably thinking that this whole proposal is ludicrous.
- “I don’t own a meat grinder.” You don’t need one. You could use your blender or hand-cut the meat but I wouldn’t recommend it. Instead, if you have a KitchenAid mixer, order this attachment for $34. It’s worth it! Here’s a rundown of various ways you can grind.
- “I have no idea what to grind together.” Fear not! You can have fun putting combinations together. Just remember that fat is important to add flavor to your burger so I always try to find a 70/30 balance. What does that mean? I want to mix up different cuts of meat that give me a partially fatty (30%) composition vs. lean (70%) composition. For some inspiration, check out this Serious Eats article where they’ve done the homework for you on the pros and cons of different cuts of beef. It’s rare that you are able to buy 70/30 ground meat – the best you can usually get is 80/20. If you want one type of meat, that’s OK too! Just remember to keep enough fat in the mix.
- “This is going to take me hours.” No, it’s not. It takes me on average about 30 min to prep and grind my burgers. The first time it took me about an hour but that’s because I was learning on the go! Now I can do it in about 20 min flat.
What you’re going to need:
- A grinder attachment (or other grinding tool of your choice)
- Waxed paper (if using grinder/attachment)
- Three bowls & Ice
- A knife for butchering the meat
- Salt and pepper
- A cutting board
- Saran wrap
- Meat! Choose whatever blends you like. Some of my go-to combinations include sirloin, chuck and brisket as well and flank steak, short rib and brisket. I typically buy one pound of each as a whole steak.
How to Blend & Grind:
- Prep your workstation. Fill one bowl with ice and water to create an ice bath. Put a second bowl on top of that bowl so it gets really cold. Set aside the third bowl. Attach your grinder starting with the thicker grinder setting first. Not sure how thick you will want to grind your meat? It matters how you plan to cook them. Give this article a read for more details.
- Prep your meat. This is the fun part. You have ultimate control of how much fat and what parts of the meat make it into your burgers. I usually trim off excess fat and sinew and “eyeball” the 70/30 ratio. I cut the meat up into about .5″ inch pieces and add them to the cool bowl on the side to keep the meat cold. Once all the meat is trimmed and cut, toss them together and season LIBERALLY with salt and pepper. You want to do this ahead of grinding so the seasonings get mixed in as they grind! If you think the meat has gotten a little too warm, toss the bowl in the freezer for about 10-15 min before you start to grind. That will help it grind easier.
- Grind away! Position the third bowl under your grinder to catch the meat. Add a handful of meat at a time to the grinder and feed it through. This is the fastest part. If you are choosing to cook your burgers using a method that encourages using the smaller grinding plate, feed the meat through a second time but I’d recommend putting the fresh ground meat back in the cold bowl first to keep temperatures cool. When you’re done grinding, twist a piece of wax paper and feed it through the grinder to “clean out” the rest of the grinder. I know that sounds weird but it works and it comes out in one piece!
- Wrap & Freeze Assemble burgers you plan to cook and let them come to room temperature. Wrap extra burgers in saran wrap and put in a Ziploc and freeze. Here’s a tip – I usually grind my own at Memorial Day weekend and I make enough to last nearly the entire summer – about 12 extra burgers on hand at all times!
Need more grinder inspiration? Stay tuned for this week’s Eatstagram post coming soon – fresh ground lamb burgers with peppadew aioli!