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Apr 3, 2006 10:36 PM

What's the Best Meat Grinder?

  • n

I bought one of those retro revival $39 tin flashed cast iron manual meat grinders, washed it, dried it (or so I thought), assembled it and then got distracted for a few days. When I got back to it with the chicken livers, it had permanently fused into a rusted solidified mass that refused to ever be disassembled again. Oh well...

I still want to grind my own burgers and chopped liver. So, I'm ready for an electric model. But I have a small kitchen. Should I get an electric meat grinder (Viking?) - best prices, brands, place to purchase them? I know you can get an attachment that goes on the Kitchenaid mixer, but that would mean buying THAT first. Sure, it's a vanity item I wouldn't mind having, but my Cuisinart does everything a Kitchenaid mixer would do. Or does it? Speaking of my beloved Cuisinart. The one thing I've been really disappointed by it has been in my meat grinding attempts. The meat is either pulverized or very uneven, with some chunks remaining too big and a weird texture burger as the result - combo of powdery/crumbly and tough fibery bits. So, now that you've heard all the clues, what is your analysis? What should I do to meet my meat (grinding) needs?

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  1. j
    Jim Washburn

    If this (grinding no more than a few pounds of meat at a time) is ALL the function you need to add to your kitchen, there is no reason to spend a bunch of money. A good hand grinder or a single-purpose electric model will do it just fine. I have an Oster model 480 food grinder that I got at a thrift shop for a few bucks, and it works as well as my Kitchenaid K5A + grinder attachment. I've also got a hand grinder that was passed down to me from my late mom. I've ground a lot of meat with it, and it's still in fine working condition. Must be 70+ years old.


    1. I bought a Villaware professional (bigger motor, more amps) model and can do chopped liver in no time at all.

      I also use it to grate potatoes for latkes and everything needed for kishka.

      3 Replies
      1. re: mar52
        Niki Rothman

        What's the best source price-wise for the Villaware machine? And how about posting that kishka recipe?

        1. re: Niki Rothman

          I bought mine on Ebay.

          In fact I bought two. One of the regular models that I gave my employees who grind corn for Etole and mine, the professional model.

          They burned up the motor in theirs almost immediately.

          The kishka I made was NOT good.

          I Googled several recipes and combined them.

          Awful, I tell you! Just awful.

          I was on a very restricted diet for a medical procedure last Pesach and my kishka was the only thing I could eat. It wasn't edible!

          1. re: mar52
            Niki Rothman

            There's a person who posts here pretty regularly who uses the "fishfork" handle. He or she gave me a recipe for kishke, which I have not yet made, and can't find. But is a fine cook, so I would try it. You could address a post to them, using the handle, and you could do the chowhound search for fishfork and kishka or kishke and find it that way. This person also had some good websites for Jewish recipes.
            I hope your health is better/gets better.

      2. You make cake in a Cuisinart? Whip egg whites? Make pizza dough?

        I had the old fashioned meat grinder, I didn't realize what a massive PITA it was until I got the attachment for my Kitchenaid...never going back.

        1 Reply
        1. re: danna
          Niki Rothman

          YES. YES. YES. You use the plastic blade.

        2. I have an attachment for the KitchenAid mixer, which works great, but unless I am grinding a large quantity of meat (usually for sausage), I just use the food processor. It has worked very well, especially for marvelous, juicy burgers. I think the keys to grinding in the food processor are:

          Don't try to grind more than a pound or so at once

          Cut the meat into 1 inch cubes first

          Pulse a few times then move the mixture around to keep the grind even. Repeat

          Pulse SLOWLY and watch it like a hawk because one minute it is perfect, the next minute it is meat paste

          4 Replies
          1. re: Junie D
            Niki Rothman

            When you make hamburger with the Cuisinart, don't you find that you wind up with a wide variety of different sized pieces? When a lot of the pieces are sufficiently ground, there are still a lot of larger pieces and also some of this "meat paste" you mentioned in the mix? I wish I knew what I was doing wrong when I've tried to make hamburger and failed with the Cuisinart. If I COULD get it right I wouldn't have to buy a meat grinder at all. I wonder if having the 1" pieces partially frozen would help with the uniformity. When I want to slice meat very thin more easily I always have it partially frozen. I just can't think of any other ideas. Maybe I should contact Cuisinart's headquarters - I bet they have a troubleshooer of some sort. Maybe a website...

            1. re: Niki Rothman

              I haven't tried it yet since I don't have a food processor, but Alton Brown used one to grind his meat for hamburgers. He only put in 1/2 lb of cubed beef (one inch) each time. Then he used one second pulses till the desired grind. If you have one or two pieces that are too big, just throw them out or take out the rest of the meat and then pulse once or twice more.

              1. re: Niki Rothman

                The food processor grind is definitely more uneven than "real" meat grinders, but I don't find it too uneven - no big chunks plus paste. That more rustic texture is actually what I like about it. Makes the burgers more interesting and juicy. I have never frozen/partially frozen the meat before grinding but that makes sense. Cutting small before is important, as is pulsing slowly and redistributing the mix as you pulse. If you contact Cuisinart, please report back on what they say.

              2. re: Junie D

                best to chill the meat until it is almost partially frozen, before putting it in the food processor. be sure to pulse, not keep it chopping. if you keep it chopping, you can get meat mush. i make "ground" meat this way and it works slick!