Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Notes from the Grind

A few weeks ago, Meredith asked her readers if anyone made their own sausage. She was wondering if it was really as messy as she thought it would be and I responded glibly,

"We have the grinder attachment for the kitchen aid. We made our own ground beef, It really wasn't messy at all. I don't think sausage would be any messier. The nice thing about the kitchen aid, is that all the pieces come apart and can go in the dishwasher. That makes clean up very easy."

So this week when Pathmark had whole bottom round roasts on sale for $.99 a pound, I decided to buy one and grind it into ground beef. $.99 a pound is way cheaper than what ground beef if going for so I thought it would be frugal and I would get to use the grinder attachment I was talking about.

Well, 17 pounds is a lot of ground beef, so I carved off two 3.5 pound roasts and froze them separately. Then I trimmed off any fat, skin, tendon, yuck that we didn't want to eat leaving me with approximately a 7 pound piece of meat to grind. I cubed and ground, wrapped and froze, and when all was said and done I had 7- 1pound packs of ground beef in my freezer and a HUGE mess in my kitchen.

I almost burned out the motor on my beloved mixer and it kind of looked like Sweeney Todd was barbering in my kitchen.

So, here are my tips from this borderline disgusting experience for all meat grinding in the future:

1. Make sure the meat is cold. And I mean frosty. After it is cubed, put it in the freezer for a little while. Frozen meat grinds better than non-frozen meat and this mean less blood splatter in the kitchen.

2. Grind in small batches. This will save your mixer from over heating. Grind some, and then package, clean up a little, and then grind some more.

3. Use the die with the BIG holes. The grinder attachment for the Kitchen Aid come with two dies that the meat gets pushed through. One has big holes and one has little holes. I started out using the die with the small wholes and it was such slow going, the die with the bigger holes made less work for the mixer.

4. Stop periodically to disassemble the grinder attachment and clean it out. Towards the end of my grinding nothing was coming out because the die was clogged with sinew making the mixer work harder. Had I stopped and cleaned it out halfway though I could have saved the wear and tear on the motor.

5. Have a strong stomach. As I mentioned above it looked like Sweeney Todd was working in my kitchen. There was blood and little flecks of meat all over the counter and me. Along with that there was a not so pleasant squishing sound while I was pushing the meat into the grinder. if you have a weak stomach or are faint of heart, buy your meat pre-ground.

Had I thought about these things before I started I would have had a much easier time cleaning up. Since I hadn't it took me longer to clean up than it did to grin the meat. I actually washed all of the grinder pieces and then put them in the dishwasher. I cleaned all of my cabinets and counter tops and then sanitized them with bleach and water. I washed every stitch of clothing, toweling, etc that was in the kitchen or on me in HOT water (and I don't wash anything on HOT water).

Would I do thins again? Absolutely. Not only is it cheaper, the meat tastes SO much better and I know that it is fresh, I know that it has not been artificially dyed pink to look fresh or injected with gas to puff it up.


lisa said...

Thanks for this post. My hubby and I were thinking about getting the grinder attachment for our kitchen aid. We don't currently eat ground beef because of the way it is processed. We miss it but we don't want to risk our family getting sick. So thanks for the great tips

Meredith said...

Sweeney Todd--funny! That's kind of how I imagined it : )

Sounds like a great investment in your health, though. I'll have to keep my eyes open for a great deal.