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I bought Kitchenaid Meat Grinder, now what?

My favorite butcher in San Francisco, Bryan's, has great ground chuck but I've decided I want to grind my own (am I a control freak?).

What do I ask for? Center cut chuck? Do I need to buy fat from them, too or is there enough on the hunk of chuck?

I want to make meatballs and they are not good if too lean.

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  1. Look for a chuck roast, blade roast, or brisket with marbling and some fat. Boneless beef short ribs are also good.
    Most hind quarter meat and stewing beef will be too lean, although some people like ground sirloin. I'm happy with chuck and brisket.

    3 Replies
    1. re: jayt90

      Grind the meat when it is semi frozen. I have been using a grinder for over 40 years. I can't trust the amount of fat that is grinded at the butcher. Also, I read so much about recalls of ground meat.

      1. re: jayt90

        To get all of the meat out of the grinder, grind some slices of bread after the last of the meat has been fed into the grinder.

        1. re: Antilope

          When I think about it, I do that. But just pull off a corner of an end piece. It's an insignificant amount of meat and only makes a tiny bit of difference when cleaning.

      2. I don't think you are going to have to add fat. You might want to cut the meat into approximate cubes.

        Cook’s Illustrated’s hint is to secure a large plastic bag over the mouth of the grinder with a rubber band.

        I would think even better than hamburger would be making your own meatloaf and perhaps sausage.

        Anyway, Alton Brown and Emeril both have recipes involving grinding your own hamburger.

        Alton Browns http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/al...

        Emeril’s version http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/em...

        1. http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/20...

          I made this last night. I highly recommend it!!

          Freeze the whole meat grinder before you use it, as well as the meat cubes for about ten minutes.

          I find that 2-3 times during the grinding it really helps to clean all the junk that is twisted up around the blade. I also grind the meat twice. It helps get the fat better distributed. The most important tip is to keep it all cold so the fat doesn't start melting.

          Put the knife blade somewhere safe. I just had to order my second replacement.

          1. Chuck, brisket and boneless short ribs makes a nice combo, in equal porportions; cut into strips and partially freeze the meat for ease of grinding. Grind twice, large hole plate first then smaller.

            I don't think you're doing yourself a disservice by grinding your own beef; you control the cuts, flavor, fat content and freshness, things you can't know or get from the supermarket.

            1 Reply
            1. re: bushwickgirl

              Untrimmed brisket would be a great source of extra fat if you think you need it and you might if you wanted to add some sirloin that was on sale.

            2. No you're not crazy or a control freak to want to grind your own. I recently tried the hamburger recipe in Ad Hoc which requires grinding the meats and the results was fantastic.. My own local butchers thought I was nuts, but we liked the flavor and texture of the freshly ground hamburgers a lot better. I'm going to tailor the meat combination and fat ratio a bit to suit our needs.

              I've owned the KA meat grinder for several years now. It does a good job on grinding, haven't been so happy with it for sausage stuffing purposes. Really like the suggestion to chill or partially freeze everything prior to grinding.

              15 Replies
              1. re: DiningDiva

                Yeah, you get the feeling that this isn't Becca's first rodeo when it comes to meat grinding.

                1. re: Hank Hanover

                  Great advice all -- can't wait to get started.

                2. re: DiningDiva

                  I've been looking at the hamburger recipie on America's Test Kitchen that reproduces the experience of the Shack Burger from New York City's Shake Shack - thin, griddled, crispy, loosely-packed burgers. The test kitchen does not recommend the smash and scrape technique, but rather a loose grind barely patted together into more of a mound than a patty.

                  1. re: GraydonCarter

                    What is the "smash and scrape technique"? I think loosely ground and handled as little as possible is pretty much a given, at least IMO.

                    1. re: c oliver

                      This burger is tight and compressed. http://aht.seriouseats.com/archives/2...
                      Another version is a ball of ground beef, smashed down.

                    2. re: GraydonCarter

                      This is hands down the best burger recipe I have ever made. It convinced me that griddled burgers beat grilled every time!

                      1. re: Becca Porter

                        I agree too. We do burgers at work on both the flat top and the char broiler and I'll take the one done on the flat top any day :-)

                        1. re: DiningDiva

                          We've spent great amounts of time cleaning out late MIL's house which is about an hour away and has no grill. I've been doing burgers there by searing in the CI skillet and then into a 400 oven. I'm hard pressed to find fault with them.

                    3. re: DiningDiva

                      I would love to find a recipe for breakfast sausage patties using lean ground pork or maybe turkey - does anyone have one? One with some good spice in it.

                      1. re: bayoucook

                        I made these once and thought they were quite good. I bought my ground turkey for it at the farmer's market where I can buy a mix that's a combination of dark and white meat. It's not as lean, but I much prefer the flavor. I added a pinch of crushed red pepper to spice it up a bit.


                        1. re: JoanN

                          now that's what I'm talking about - love the pear in it - thanks!

                          1. re: JoanN

                            That sounds great and I've saved it. I agree about white and dark meat. Last year when I made the Mar-a-Lago burgers, I bought a small turkey and used that for the burgers.

                          2. re: bayoucook

                            Look for Ruhlman and Polcyn's recipe in Charcuterie. Quite excellent. It involves fresh sage, garlic and ginger, salt and pepper. I dont have the book with me right now, so I cant be more precise with the proportions.

                            Real key is to keep everything ice cold during the process and to emulsify the meat after it is ground by incorporating ice cold water to the meat and emulsifying it for a minute or so ( I use the kitchenaid mixer attachment), until you feel the mixture is bound together.

                            1. re: bayoucook

                              The breakfast sausage recipe from Charcuterie is the only recipe in the whole book that I actively disliked. Just the wrong flavor profile for breakfast sausage. I have ended up using a combination of web-based spice mixtures but haven't settled on the perfect one. If you choose to go lean, you will find that the texture of the sausage is a bitter different than the commercially available products; a little tougher I think would describe my experience.

                              1. re: smtucker

                                Used fresh or dried garlic/ginger/sage? I thought the flavors were right but much more vibrant than with a commercial product.

                          3. We love a half-and-half combo of lean beef (like round) and pork shoulder - that's become our favorite for burgers.

                            Well, that, and we picked up some porterhouse tails a while back that were super.

                            And the leftover pieces from a strip loin . . .

                            1. I LOVE my KA grinder! I buy 7-bone chuck when it's on special. (The first time I had a cut that was too lean and I went back to Safeway and got some fat that had been trimmmed from steaks. No charge.) I do none of the rocket science stuff :) when I grind it. I don't freeze the grinder parts. I don't partially freeze the meat. I don't put up plastic and have never had a drop of anything fly around. I cut the meat in strips that are about the size and shape of the feed tube. I use the larger holed thingy and grind it once. I gently form it into 6oz. patties, wrap each of those snugly in plastic wrap and then put 6 into a gallong freezer bag. Total perfect and we no longer eat burgers in restaurants cause they'll never be as good.

                              ETA: I've never had my mixer overheat and I've never forced the meat through. I cut the strips a few at a time and then grind so the mixer gets a regular "rest." And by having the meat the approx. shape of the feedtube, it's really a matter of guiding it in and not pushing it.
                              Here's a great turkey burger recipe also that's moist and juicy and so flavorful. Don't let anyone tell you that they have to be dry. Not.


                              I also make from Batali's Molto Italiano this sausage recipe:


                              Oddly perhaps, this recipe differs from the cookbook cause it doesn't have the 2T of fennel seed that Iconsider a must. I haven't gotten around to sourcing casings so I just make it in bulk and freeze, like the burgers, but in 8 and 16oz. portions.

                              Grinding your own meat is a snap and I honestly don't know why some people have to do so much more to it than I do. You're going to love it, I'm sure. Report back please :)

                              27 Replies
                              1. re: c oliver

                                Just checked out that Mar-a-Lago Turkey Burger (although I'm totally chagrinned at having even peeked at anything having to do with La Donald) and there are lots of comments about the recipe as written having way too much salt. Has that been your experience? Is your rave based on adjustments you've made?

                                1. re: JoanN

                                  I've made them and loved them. I do not remember them being too salty.

                                  1. re: JoanN

                                    Hey, Joan. Years ago I actually caught this show and La Donald was there and in typical "fine" form. I haven't made this in about a year and don't specifically remember changing the recipe. And I don't remember it being salty and I'm not a real salter. I don't think reducing the salt would hurt it in the least. They really are good. BTW, I make 6 not 8 oz. patties. Take care.

                                  2. re: c oliver

                                    Other than the stuffing attachment not being so great, I've never had a problem with the grinder function of the attachment, nor has my mixer overheated either. I've got the KA Professional 5+ model and absolutely love it! This is a bigger (literally) mixer, taller and heavier than the aretesan or regular stand mixer and it's a step below their Professional 6 model with which some people report all sorts of issues.

                                    I grind on the large hole plate first and use the small hole plate for the second grind. I also form patties and freeze as well. I agree there is a discernible difference in taste and texture that makes it so worth the extra few minutes it takes.

                                    In the Ad Hoc recipe I made, Thomas Keller suggests putting a big piece of plastic wrap through the grinder to clean it out. I tried this and it does work, though my grinder had done such a good job there really wasn't that much to clean out.

                                    1. re: DiningDiva

                                      I've never done a second grind. I'll do a few the next time. It's hard to believe that I can improve on perfection :)

                                      I think the KA grinder comes apart so well that cleaning is pretty much a non-issue.

                                      I can't wait til walker takes the plunge.

                                      1. re: c oliver

                                        I think you can just do the first grind. I almost didn't do the 2nd one, but was glad I did. It just made it a little finer. What I really liked about working with the final grind was how "fluffy" it was. I just couldn't smash it all together. It was a pleasure to work with

                                        1. re: DiningDiva

                                          How do you "feed" it in for a 2nd grind? Do you just kinda gently hold it in your hand and guide it? I've been considering either a second or finer grind for some of my sausage next time. I like some of it as patties for breakfast and the coarse grind is difficult to cook in a skillet. It wants to come apart around the edges. TIA.

                                          1. re: c oliver

                                            I put a bowl under the mouth of the grinder to catch the meat as it grinds out. Once I've ground all the whole muscle meat into that bowl, I move it to the side of the grinder and put a clean bowl (sometimes set on ice if I'm doing a lot) under the grinder. Then I grab a small handful of the ground meat and put it down the feed tube. I can do up to 3 handfuls at a time without overloading the grinder or making a mess. From the anecdotal point of view, it's always seemed to me that because I'm only grinding a few handfuls at a time, the product tends to be "lighter" and doesn't tend to pack together, the strands seem to stay separated very well. I've also found that the 2nd grind goes really fast.

                                            1. re: DiningDiva

                                              I use a big pasta bowl and rotate it as I go along so it's "pre-mixed" by the time it's done. One less handling which I think is good.

                                        2. re: c oliver

                                          As far as cleaning goes... what helps the most is to take the grinder apart and soak all the pieces in cold water. This releases all the meat before it can dry on. Then I run it through the dishwasher.

                                          Yes, I just gather the loose ground meat in my hand, scoop it into the top of the grinder and press it through with the wooden thing.

                                          1. re: Becca Porter

                                            I've never understood when people complain about cleaning the grinder. When I'm done I just drop all the parts into a pan of hot soapy water, leave for a few and it's all done.

                                            Thanks re the 2nd grind advice.

                                            1. re: c oliver

                                              Wouldn't it be good to use some bleach in that rinse water?

                                              (I still have not taken mine out of the box.)

                                              1. re: walker

                                                Once you take it out of the box (you're funny!) you'll see that the whole thing comes apart. There's really nothing that you can't see or touch. To me it's no different than washing the bowl I ground the meat into. Actually that's what I frequently do now that I think about it. I run hot, soapy water into that bowl and put all the parts into it along with the knife I cut the meat with. Then at the end I wash the cutting board with the same soapy water. Let completely dry before storing in the box.

                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                  I just put it in the dishwasher, save the wooden plunger.

                                                  1. re: tommy

                                                    I don't run DW daily so prefer to get it cleaned and put away. My pusher is plastic not wood.

                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                      I wasn't arguing with you or questioning your method. No need to explain.

                                                      1. re: tommy

                                                        I know. I wasn't being defensive. Just saying :)

                                                  2. re: c oliver

                                                    That's exactly what I do, run hot soapy water into the bowl I ground the meat into then drop in the disassembled grinder into the water and let it soak for a few mintues while I finish putting things away. Wash and rinse under hot running water. Store in the box too. My plunger is plastic as well

                                                    1. re: DiningDiva

                                                      As an ex-restaurant pro who was subjected to stringent food handling procedures, I have some concerns with skipping the sanitizing step when cleaning the meat grinder attachment. Call me overly cautious, but hot soapy water only eliminates meat particles, connective tissue and fat, but not necessarily bacteria on surfaces and in crevices. A dip in some sort of sanitizing solution or a wipe or spray with vinegar, or in the dishwasher on sanitize mode might be something to think about doing. Cross contamination comes from equipment that hasn't been cleaned and sanitized properly. Grinding meat at home is no different than a commercial meat packing plant or restaurant as far as sanitation is concerned, subject to the same possible bacterial contaminations and should follow the same procedures, that is, clean and sanitize after every use.

                                                      1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                        I hear you and that's certainly fine for those who choose that. But I don't do it with the cutting board or the knife or the bowl either.

                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                          All right, but implementing some sort of sanitizing with anything that you use for meat or poultry that doesn't go into the dishwasher can't hurt, i.e. I spray my cutting board, plate and knife with vinegar after washing and then air dry. Even adding a little bleach to your soapy water will do it. Seems overly cautious I know, but I've had safe food handling procedures drummed into my head. Just something to think about... I'm not germ phobic by any stretch, God knows what other bad food handling habits I have, but I'm just very cautious when handling meat or poultry.

                                                          1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                            I find it slightly annoying when anyone tells me what I "should" do. I' spent a good bit of my professional life in the medical field including a stint as a lab tech at the Centers for Disease Control. Knock wood, the ONLY time I've gotten sick from food was salmonella three years ago from Peter Pan peanut butter that had been recalled but two jars were missed in the grocery store where I shopped in Rio de Janeiro. I also drink tap water all over world, chicken from street vendors in Guatemala and all sorts ofwild and crazy things. It may not be what you "should" do, but it's right for me. I've made it to the ripe old age of 63 so must be doing something right.

                                                            ETA: Thank you for deleting the part where you said I "should" do sanitizing.

                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                              I've amended my post to be less "offensive" to you, and I'm certainly not trying to stuff this issue down your throat; my post just stands as a cautionary statement, and I'd hate to see anyone become ill.

                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                I tend to be a lot less cautious than I probably should be when it comes to handling meat and poultry. I wonder if it's generational. I've got a couple of years on you c.oliver and I feel the same way you do. I've never gotten sick; my mother never got sick; my grandmother never got sick. So I do what they did. Which is to haphazardly sanitize when I remember to do so.

                                                                I used to do nearly all the cooking at a friend's summer cottage. There was a guest who followed me around with a bottle of bleach. She was sure her kids would get salmonella poisoning. I was only worried that my lovingly prepared dishes would end up tasting like bleach.

                                                          2. re: bushwickgirl

                                                            Bushwickgirl, while I appreciate you concern and comments - more so than you know - I'm also ServSafe certified (30+ years and counting in the industry) and understand all too well the potential dangers.

                                                            The KA grinder is a pretty simple piece of equipment that disassembles into it's component pieces with tremendous ease and allows for each piece to be well cleaned. There are not a lot of hard to reach nooks and crannies in this thing. Routine washing and a good rinse under hot running water is probably sufficient for what's being discussed here.

                                                            Certainly whole muscle meats can be contaminated but are much less likely to be so than commercial grd. beef. A quick rinse of the meat *before* grinding can remove a lot of the potentially harmful bacteria. And remember, a large majority of harmful bacteria do not survive particularly well in the air, they need warm, moist hosts to thrive :-).

                                                            Everyone needs to do what's comfortable for them. If adding sanitizer to the wash is your thing, so be it. I'm pretty comfortable with the process I'm using and don't feel it puts me or my family at risk.

                                                            1. re: DiningDiva

                                                              You make a good point about the construction of the KA grinder. I have nothing to compare it to but, yeah, it completely comes apart. No place for any pieces to hide.

                                                            2. re: bushwickgirl

                                                              I put my faith in lots of hot soapy water. It's never let me down. Can't stand the smell of bleach in the kitchen.

                                            2. I love my KA meat grinder, and burgers is just the beginning. I grind seasoned meats for pork sausage. I grind lamb for a variety of Indian dishes and lamb-feta burgers. I grind turkey for koftas. I grind combinations of meat for meatloaf and meatballs.

                                              Not only do I save money, I can select the quality of meat that I eat on a daily basis. And homemade sausage is an amazing thing indeed.

                                              1. As I wrote, I'm cautious about meat and poultry handling and proper sanitation with equipment that comes into contact with those products. My post stands as a cautionary note for those who might have concerns.

                                                Btw, If bleach isn't your favorite scent, vinegar works quite well.

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                  Vinegar is great at preserving pickles. but there's no evidence that it kill bacteria on surfaces the way that bleach does.

                                                  1. re: pikawicca

                                                    No, you can't compare bleach's disinfecting capabilities to vinegar, which is not a disinfectant but a reasonably good antimicrobial and sanitizer. The main difference between a sanitizer and a disinfectant is that at a specified dilution, the disinfectant must have a higher kill capability for pathogenic bacteria compared to that of a sanitizer. To sanitize means to reduce the number of microorganisms to a safe level. A safe level works for me.

                                                    5% acetic acid is effective at killing enteropathogenic E. coli, reduces campylobactor on raw poultry surfaces, and is even more effective when used in tandem with a 3% hydrogen peroxide mist, which eliminates E. coli, shigella and salmonella on surfaces.

                                                    A bleach solution of 1 tablespoon to one gallon of water is all it takes to sanitize a surface. As that dilution, it would be extremely difficult to detect bleach odor and it dissipates quickly. If one has an extremely sensitive nose, vinegar may be an exceptable sanitizing alternative, less noxious smelling, with less environmental impact than bleach, over plain soap and water.

                                                    Now we're quite far away from the OP. Back to grinding meat.

                                                    1. re: bushwickgirl

                                                      I, for one, appreciate these explanations. My mother never used bleach in the kitchen but it's good to have this info. People are free to use or not use bleach, vinegar, whatever. Thank you very much for this -- somehow, I did not get this info in school.

                                                      1. re: walker

                                                        I do to. I am constantly worried when I am grinding meat. It is amazing when you are grinding or cutting beef or other meat how many times you touch other stuff.

                                                        I don't mind being too safe if all it takes is a little bleach and some vinegar.

                                                        Thanks Bushwickgirl. We need to be reminded of this on occasion.

                                                2. I've yet to use mine (purchased years ago). Do you *really* get a better product grinding yourselt? (For example, I love the 22% fat ground beef from Bristol Farm's--don't want to go to the trouble of grinding myself unless there's an appreciable difference. TIA for your thoughts.

                                                  13 Replies
                                                  1. re: Funwithfood

                                                    Safer and fresher. So generally, yes.

                                                      1. re: Funwithfood

                                                        You may have to ask a butcher how Bristol achieves 22% fat and what cuts or scraps go into the mix. There is not much information in their site http://www.bristolfarms.com/departmen...
                                                        Ground beef in most stores is a commodity. A large supplier will mix scraps from older animals with blocks of rendered fat from a central source. The meat in a tray may contain parts of many hundreds of animals, and the amount of bulk fat is added to lower the cost.
                                                        Here is a link to the well known NYT article on the grinding of beef:

                                                        1. re: jayt90

                                                          Bristol Farms is a boutique supermarket in LA. They have real butchers who cut and grind their own meat daily.It is quite similar to home ground in texture and flavor. It is not a commodity source.

                                                          1. re: JudiAU

                                                            There is still every reason to ask, rather than assume it is OK. There has to be some transparency with higher prices.
                                                            Real butchers are a rarity if Bristol has them. More often upscale places have meat cutters with a college diploma, working on cryovac packs rather than carcasses.

                                                        2. re: Funwithfood

                                                          Since we started grinding our beef, we will no longer eat burgers in restaurants. It was always a disappointment.

                                                          And jayt makes good points here. And just the thought of what must happen to come up with exactly 22% gives me the creeps :) I see large vats of meat and large vats of fat. Blech.

                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                            How do you think they come up with exactly 80% or 73% lean?

                                                            1. re: tommy

                                                              Exactly. When I do it at home, I don't trim the meat of all fat and then weigh out the proportions. I could but don't see the need. But for a market to label it, obviously the process is large vats of stuff :)

                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                I don't believe that's the case. Chuck is 80%, sirloin is 90%. It's about which parts of the carcass you use, not necessarily about separating fat from meat (impossible since meat has fat in it) and then putting it back together.

                                                                I routinely add pure fat to beef. I see no problem with this practice.

                                                                1. re: tommy

                                                                  I'm not referring to home ground beef. That's the point. Did you read the link to the NYT article that tommy posted above? I can add nothing to that.

                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                    "And just the thought of what must happen to come up with exactly 22% gives me the creeps"

                                                                    You seemed to be taking issue with how the meat is "exactly" 22%. I'm suggesting that this isn't out of the ordinary, and doesn't necessarily require large vats of stuff any more than your typical 80/20 or 90/10.

                                                                    If you don't like preground beef that's one thing (and I agree). But I see no additional issue with the magic number of 22.

                                                                    1. re: tommy

                                                                      Interesting, but I trust my buds. BTW, even Costco's frozen 22% burgers are tasty. If someone is willing to do a blind test for me, I'm there!

                                                            2. re: c oliver

                                                              "Since we started grinding our beef, we will no longer eat burgers in restaurants. It was always a disappointment."

                                                              Some restaurants make a great burger so you can enjoy them and not have to do the dishes. But I will do your dishes for $10 if you are lazy.

                                                              You are 2000% right. The burgers at home at at least as good as the ones in the restaurants.

                                                              I tried for years to make burgers out of store bought burger. You can't do it. It always sucks.

                                                              My own ground burger is great. There is nothing better.

                                                              I like to go out to Chipotle for Mexican food. I am willing to pay them to do the dishes because they make a lot of stuff and it is good.

                                                              I can make a burger at home. You are right.

                                                              I can't believe that people let their grinding attachment sit for 4 years before they use it. Mine only sat for about two years before I tried it and it was great. I haven't bought ground meat for a long time and everything is better (taco's, chili, meatloaf, hot dog chili (ground twice) and spaghetti. And meatballs. Did I mention burgers?

                                                              Where can you get the pink slime? Maybe that will make it better?

                                                          2. I just bought the KA FGA, as well. First task for it, as I research making fresh sausages, was to make a salsa! Wonderful!! I've been trying a few different recipes and techniques this year. Using the KA food grinder was by far the best result with minimal effort!

                                                            I quartered a few tomatoes, using my fingers to remove the seeds and core. Split and seeded a jalapeno, peeled a couple cloves of garlic and split half a white onion. Put it all through the grinder with the coarse plate. Couldn't have been easier or faster!

                                                            I then squeezed half a lime into it, ground some fresh black pepper, added some sea salt and stirred in some freshly chopped cilantro.

                                                            Perfect!! Fresh and full or nutrition!

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: DigitalVelvet

                                                              Wow, what a great idea! I'd have never thought of such a thing. Thanks for sharing.