Have you recently bought or been gifted a meat grinder for the kitchen, but haven’t yet figured out the optimal way to use it? Well, you’re not alone. Maybe you find yourself facing some of the common issues faced by many meat grinder users.
The question of how to use a meat grinder is one which must be answered if you want to get the most out of your kitchen utensils and edge closer to kitchen mastery. So let’s dive into the most common issues and explore some potential solutions to get you on your way to becoming the next master chef.
Why grind your own meat?
Why should you grind your own meat? Grinding your own meat is worth the time and effort it takes as you will be able to control the thickness and consistency of it, and avoid the potential problems that are associated with the ground meat you can find at supermarkets that can contain unwanted chemicals, while saving yourself some money too.
Use cold meat and equipment
If you’re wondering how you should use your meat grinder, first of all, if the meat gets stuck in the head and clogs up your machine, it probably has to do with the temperature of the meat. Especially if the meat is fatty, this step is crucial and will also make it more hygienic.
Ensure you put the meat that you intend to grind in the fridge before attempting to feed it through the machine – half an hour should suffice – since the grinder works better with cold meat – make sure you don’t freeze it though.
The equipment also needs to be cold to operate optimally. The grinding plate can be used to put the meat in the fridge to avoid any issues with the process when it comes to grinding.
It’s also important to go slow, the faster you try to grind the meat – especially if it’s cut into large chunks – the more risk there is that the grinder will overheat and cease to function.
Find the right cut of meat
An often overlooked part of the process when it comes to grinding meat, is choosing the right cut to begin with. You should plan ahead and decide which cut is best suited to the type of dish you are trying to make.
Say you want to make a deliciously juicy hamburger, you’re going to want less fat if you prefer it rare and slightly more (40%) if you like it medium to well-done.
Some of the best cuts for the best tasting burger you can make it home include – but are not limited to – the chuck steak (the most commonly used for hamburgers), round (an affordable, lean cut), and boneless short rib (for that high-fat, extra tasty burger).
Moisture is key when it comes to a flavorful burger, and a good way to retain it is with the fat content of the meat. That’s why chuck is the often-preferred cut, which can be paired nicely with one of the other cuts like sirloin for an excellent end product.
One way to guarantee the meat you use will be up to scratch in terms of food safety and flavor, is to buy it directly from the butchers. Sometimes buying packaged meat from the supermarket isn’t the best option if you want to avoid additives and chemicals.
Prepare the meat ahead of time
To make sure everything goes smoothly, and it’s easy to feed the meat through the grinder, ensure you cut it into thin strips before attempting to use the machine. 3-5cm is a good length to aim for to make things much easier for yourself.
Streamline the process by preparing the meat ahead of time, chopping it finely before placing it in the fridge with the grinder parts. Bear in mind if you’re making hamburgers, you’ll want to keep the fat, just dispose of sinewy parts and gristle.
You’ll also benefit from adding olive oil or fat to the meat before attempting to grind it, since dry meat will slow the process down and can cause the grinder to malfunction. Avoid buying dry meat in general and this won’t have to be a problem for you later down the line.
Grind the meat several times
A common mistake when it comes to grinding meat is feeding it through the machine just once, and ending up with a thick consistency that will make the cooking process slower and the end product less manageable.
Grind the meat at least twice – especially if you are going to make hamburgers – and you can guarantee the consistency will be easier to work with and allow for more options when it comes to cooking.
Don’t forget to place a large bowl under the grinder to catch the meat as you feed it through, which you could even chill beforehand if you prefer the meat to be chilled as it is resting.
Play around with meat and seasoning
You might think that it’s better to season the meat after grinding it so it combines well, but this isn’t the case. To get the best flavor, your best bet is to rub the seasonings into the meat and mix well before you even feed it through the grinder.
By applying the seasoning before grinding the meat, you can rest assured that it will be evenly distributed for a better tasting end product.
It’s also worth considering the different combinations of meat you can put through the grinder for certain dishes. For example, a combination of beef and lamb can be great for making a spaghetti Bolognese dish.
So the key takeaways here if you want to use a meat grinder like a chef are:
- Make sure the meat and equipment are cold before use
- Cut the meat into small chunks and season well pre-grind
- Grind the meat several times for the best results
- Find the best cut of meat for the meal you are making
Comment below with any meat grinder-related questions.