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Jan 14, 2009 11:38 AM

Do you grind your own turkey?

I came across a great turkey burger recipe in my files yesterday and it got me to thinking about grinding my own turkey. Do any of you do that? The stuff in the grocery is so blah-looking, comes in little 12oz. packages and isn't cheap. I was thinking about buying a turkey breast and giving it a try. Any tips? Do I use the meat only? Is that too lean? The stuff in the grocery is labeled "ground white meat" so I guess it would be fine. I appreciate any advice. It would be nice to have some packets of it in the freezer.

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  1. If you can get to a regular butcher, he/she can grind up a combo of what you want. So you can ask for mostly white meat with a little bit of dark meat- as opposed to a pretetermined amount. I usually ask for this and it's not dry or blah at all. If you use ground turkey for chili or "meat" sauce, the butcher can also grind it up chunkier.

    5 Replies
    1. re: cheesecake17

      I grind my own meat for sausage so that isn't a problem. I like the idea of a little dark meat. Maybe I could do a mix of turkey breast and chicken thighs?

      1. re: c oliver

        Sure. Dark meat has much more flavor. Why not grind a some white and dark meat separately and make test burgers with each? Then you mix the two if you like (or keep one and feed the other to the dogs).

        Ruhlman's Charcuterie has a recipe for chicken sausages that calls for dark meat (no skin) and a little pork fat. I made some once and it was quite good. I'm sure you could use turkey instead.

        1. re: c oliver

          You could definitely do that. I prefer the taste of white meat but the moistness of dark meat so I ask the butcher for mostly white with just a bit of dark thrown in. Are you going to use the grinder attachement for the kitchen aid? I have one.. never used it.. just curious how well it works as opposed to the butcher.

          1. re: cheesecake17

            I've been making sausage with my KA grinder attachment for a couple of years. It is SO easy and you'll never want the store-bought kind again :) It works great. I use 4# pork shoulder to 2# bacon. I cut the pork into kinda the shape of the feeding tube - long and narrow. I alternate the pork with the bacon so it's practically mixed when I'm through grinding. I use a Batali recipe:


            I don't fix the peppers part (and don't add ALL the red pepper flakes to the sausage) and I've never gotten around to finding casings. I just package it up in 8 and 16oz. packages and freeze. I have a whole cookbook of sausage recipes and maybe next time I'll try one.

            1. re: c oliver

              Maybe I'll try it with turkey. Thanks!

      2. I just a got a grinder for Xmas and love it! The reason I got it is because I wanted ground chicken that was both dark & white meat for Japanese dishes and most grocery stores don't have it. I got a whole chicken and ground the breast and thighs together and it came out very well. I haven't tried turkey, but I'm sure that it would be similiar.

        Your thought on mixing turkey breast and chicken thigh sounds great!

        1. I grind turkey breast with my KitchenAid meat grinder attachment or an old fashioned crank one. I've found pure ground turkey breast to be sort of dry. I grill a lot. So I usually grind in a bit of bacon with the turkey breast. Adds fat/moisture plus great flavor. Sometimes I mix with other things and then stuff sausage casing. Like turkey, bacon, wildrice (cooked). Mmm.

          4 Replies
          1. re: scuzzo

            Isn't adding bacon to turkey the home-cooking equivalent of ordering a diet coke with that super-sized value meal? I pretty much gave up on trying to fool myself into thinking ground turkey was as good as ground beef or pork. By the time you've compensated for the dryness and blandness, you've got a turkey meatloaf, not a burger. And turkey meatloaf is a pale imitation, literally and figuratively, of beef meatloaf. That said, I have had success subbing turkey for a third to a half of the ground chuck in meat loaf. To correct the offputting paler color, I add Gravy Master/Kitchen Bouquet to the meatloaf mix. If I hadn't made it myself, I wouldn't know that the meatloaf wasn't all-beef.

            1. re: greygarious

              Who's talking about healthy??? Turkey and bacon are great together. With or without a diet coke! ;)

            2. re: scuzzo

              Where do you get your casings? I've been making sausage for a couple of years but have never gotten around to looking for casings. I just freeze in 8 and 16 oz. bulk packages. But the turkey, bacon, rice sounds great. Rather like a boudin? ?sp

              1. re: c oliver

                Ask the butcher for casings. May have to find a smaller butcher...

                The casings freeze fine.

            3. I have the grinder attachment and love it. A few things I've discovered are that cold meat grinds much better than room temperature meat. If you want to add in fat, run it through along with the meat rather than by itself or else it will heat up and get clogged in the mechanisims (a real pain). I usually grind chicken and enjoy mixing thigh and breast meat to achieve a blend of dark and light meat.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Phoo_d

                I was wondering how and what in the way of fat you could add to poultry. I think skin would be impossible to grind. Maybe add some reserved chicken fat from something else? Or maybe not necessary if I use white and dark.

                1. re: c oliver

                  Definitely don't grind the skin. I just can't see that working. I usually add the fat that I would typically trim off from chicken breasts or thighs. Such as, the globs of white fat that are often just under the skin.

                2. re: Phoo_d

                  Yes, even semi frozen meat grinds really well! And I agree about grinding fat and meat together. If doing bacon and turkey, I alternate chunks.