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Grinding meat with a food processor


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Does double-grinding make a big difference? When I make burgers, I single-grind through the small plate and they're great. Would they be even better if I bothered to double-grind?

Matthew Amster-Burton, aka "mamster"

Author, Hungry Monkey, coming in May

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In my experience, the coarser the grind the better the burger. But, if you grind too coarse, you don't get even distribution of fat and you wind up with little chewy/crunchy/undesirable pockets of stuff. Double grinding allows you to use a coarse disc but still gets all that stuff integrated on the second go-round. For whatever reason, double coarse-grinding does not equate to fine grinding. I do think it's better. It seems to create a less dense, more loosely packed burger that to me has a more desirable texture and does a better job of basting itself internally.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Does double-grinding make a big difference? When I make burgers, I single-grind through the small plate and they're great. Would they be even better if I bothered to double-grind?

I'm not a fan of the double-grind.

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I was an early food processor adopter and love that chunk of steel and plastic. But never, and I mean never have I found it useful for chopping meat, and Lord knows I've tried, since the time that ABBA ruled the waves.

The retro grinder did a fine job, especially when the meat was well-chilled, but the retro clamp never gripped our kitchen table worth diddley, and it took two people to grind a pound of chuck -- one gripping the grinder, one forcing down the meat with the especially retro wooden rod. We wised up: get the grinder attachment for the Kitchen Aid. It becomes a one-person job.

That said, we use it for grinding pork and veal for forcemeat now and then, for ground beef once in a zillion weeks. We can buy a reliable 70/30 ground chuck from our local market or from the supermercado down the road.

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

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I too use the coarse disc and a double grind. I guess I should have been clearer about the disc.

In fact, the coarse disc is the only one I use on the meat grinder. I wonder what those other thingys are good for?

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Does double-grinding make a big difference? When I make burgers, I single-grind through the small plate and they're great. Would they be even better if I bothered to double-grind?

It really depends on how tough the stuff is that you are grinding, the size of the disk you're using and how you are going to cook the ground meat. If you're grinding something like chuck steak, which has plenty of connective tissue and large pockets of hard fat, single-grinding on the coarse disk will often result in a tough gristly hamburger. If you're making a long-cooked ragu or something like that, you're not likely to notice as much of a difference. If, on the other hand, you're grinding something with practically no tough connective tissue, like chicken or rabbit, or something with relatively small amounts, like Melkor's short rib and hanger steak hamburger blend, it may not make as much of a difference and you may appreciate the coarser texture of single-ground meat. Personally, I almost always double grind on a very coarse disk.

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It really depends on how tough the stuff is that you are grinding, the size of the disk you're using and how you are going to cook the ground meat.  If you're grinding something like chuck steak, which has plenty of connective tissue and large pockets of hard fat, single-grinding on the coarse disk will often result in a tough gristly hamburger.  If you're making  a long-cooked ragu or something like that, you're not likely to notice as much of a difference.  If, on the other hand, you're grinding something with practically no tough connective tissue, like chicken or rabbit, or something with relatively small amounts, like Melkor's short rib and hanger steak hamburger blend, it may not make as much of a difference and you may appreciate the coarser texture of single-ground meat.  Personally, I almost always double grind on a very coarse disk.

I do chuck in a single pass also, but I remove all the fat first, grind the meat coarsely, freeze the fat and grind it on fine then mix them together. It also depends on the type of grinder you use - the KitchenAid attachment has an internal blade and with the small disc will turn your meat into something similar to wall paste. Grinders with external blades are less likely to either smear or overheat the meat. Double grinding is ideal for things like koobideh, but for burgers I find I get a better result by working the meat as little as possible. I use a grinder like this one that I got from my grandmother - I'd guess it's about 70 years old and I only have the medium and course cutting dies.

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This thread inspired me to grind my own meat for salisbury steaks inspired by Top Chef. I used well marbled top sirloin which was looking better than the chuck. Diced small and pulsed in FP. Great results. After the meat was ground, I wizzed some mushrooms and onions that I sauteed added beef stock and reduced. Added thyme, some breadcrumbs and 2 egg yolks. Dusted in flour, pan fried, made portobello pan gravy - super tasty. I served them in ceramic TV dinner style plates with goat cheese mashed potatoes, carrot slaw and a lemon bar. Cute and tasty.

Lisa K

Lavender Sky

"No one wants black olives, sliced 2 years ago, on a sandwich, you savages!" - Jim Norton, referring to the Subway chain.

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I must be one of the few old-fashioned cooks out there when it comes to grinding meat at home. I don't use either my food processor or the meat grinder attachment on my Kitchen Aid mixer.

I find the food processor blade whirls around way too fast to get the coarse texture I like in ground meat. I seem to end up with something that is the texture of what I would call 'meat pate.' Even if I use the 'pulse' feature and give the meat just a few pulses of the blade, it still seems to be too fine for my tastes.

It's sort of the same comparison with pastry dough. I will absolutely never use my food processor to blend pastry dough. The food processor absolutely obliterates the crisco and the butter into tiny little grains. I mix the crisco and butter with the flour by hand using a pastry cutter. Yes, it does take time and is a bit messier than using a food processor, but I can control the size of the knobs of butter and crisco mixed with the flour. The hand-cutting method insures that I will end up with a beautifully delicate, light and flaky pie crust.

I've tried using the meat grinder attachment on my Kitchen Aid. While it does a better job of grinding the meat to the texture I want, I find the fat in the meat tends to clog up on the inner-workings of the blade.

I use a hand-crank meat grinder that attaches to my counter. You can buy them just about anywhere, but try one of the large Hunting and Fishing centers. They sell them for cheap. Hunters use them for grinding game meat into sausage. Most of the old-fashioned hand-crank machines come with different blade attachments so you can control the texture of the ground meat from fine to extra coarse.

I don't have a magical ratio for meat and fat, I just go by what I think will taste good. If we're talking beef, I buy cuts from the chuck with a good amount of fat. Seems to make for juicy hamburgers.

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I use a hand-crank meat grinder that attaches to my counter.  You can buy them just about anywhere, but try one of the large Hunting and Fishing centers.  They sell them for cheap.  Hunters use them for grinding game meat into sausage.  Most of the old-fashioned hand-crank machines come with different blade attachments so you can control the texture of the ground meat from fine to extra coarse.

It's not just you - I do the same thing.

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I use a hand-crank meat grinder that attaches to my counter.  You can buy them just about anywhere, but try one of the large Hunting and Fishing centers.  They sell them for cheap.  Hunters use them for grinding game meat into sausage.  Most of the old-fashioned hand-crank machines come with different blade attachments so you can control the texture of the ground meat from fine to extra coarse.

It's not just you - I do the same thing.

I love your photo of the grinder you use! I use one that was my Grandfather's. He worked in the sheep business in Idaho for many years. I use his old grinder for beef, but I'm thinking he might have used it to grind up lamb.

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I love your photo of the grinder you use!  I use one that was my Grandfather's.  He worked in the sheep business in Idaho for many years.  I use his old grinder for beef, but I'm thinking he might have used it to grind up lamb.

The grinder also works really well for other things, here's a picture from earlier in the week of

green garbanzos, onions, and parsley going through the grinder to make falafel...

grinder.jpg

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I, too, decided to move away from the KA grinder attachment. But, since I needed to grind up whole chickens, including the bones, to make food for my ferrets, I went for horsepower rather than hand cranking. Here's mine:

i3280.jpg

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I've done ground beef in my food processor after seeing it done by Alton Brown a few years ago.. Yes, it's not perfect, but it still makes a big difference in the taste of a burger. You can smell the freshness of it when you dump it out of the workbowl.

I do it in very small batches. Maybe 5-6 ounces or so at a time. I have a Kitchen Aid mixer, but have yet to buy the grinder attachment. I gave the FP method a try, and I was pleased enough with the results for burgers that I decided to hold off on the grinder attachment for the KA.

I say if you have a food processor and no meat grinder, give it a shot. You have little to lose.

Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"

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I have a KA grinder attachment and had a lot of trouble with the blade and plate becoming gummed up with white connective tissue looking gunk within just a few seconds of grinding. I was not getting a smooth extrusion of meat--just gummy sprigs. I even tried buying new knife blades--same story. I bought a nice manual grinder and have the same problem. I chill the blades, body of grinder and the meat is really cold--almost frozen. I have used pork shoulder, lamb shoulder, veal, and finally bought really well trimmed beef stew meat from a butcher. Same problem with whatever I do. I have tried really trimming all visible white tissue away but leave the fat. Time consuming, to say the least. I am SO tired of cleaning grinders after making such a mess. Can anyone give any suggestions?

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Okay, I did my first double-grind with the coarse plate, and the result was the best burgers I've ever made. It's also a lot harder feeding ground meat into the grinder than large chunks, but thanks for goading me into it anyway.

Matthew Amster-Burton, aka "mamster"

Author, Hungry Monkey, coming in May

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