Grinding tough cuts for meatballs
I recently got a meat grinder. I was thinking about grinding tougher cuts that are usually meant for braising and making them into meatballs. Instead of frying or baking the meatballs, I would braise them in the tomato sauce. Has anyone tried this? Would the meatballs hold their shape or would they disintegrate?
This is the method that I use with ground meat. I make the meatballs and bake them off in the oven at 425 for 15-20 minutes. I then add them to the tomato sauce and let them braise a bit. I think you will be fine simply by grinding the fibers in the beginning.
This is how it is normally done anyway, braising cuts are already what is going into ground meat, shoulder, chuck, etc.
I personally ask my butcher to grind the beef and pork in my meatballs extra fine only because I like the texture to be a little more silky for my meatballs.
As for cooking, I pan fry my meatballs prior to adding to the sauce but adding them to the warm sauce works as well. It really just a matter of using the correct binders (egg, bread panade, etc) when making your meatball mix so they are firm enough to hold together until cooked thru.
I've never tried braising meatballs, but even if they don't disintegrate they'll probably have a mushy texture if you cook them long enough for the connective tissue to soften. Exactly what cuts are you thinking of? Shank? Shoulder? The muscle meat is perfectly fine in most cheap cuts, but you need to trim off the tendons and gristly parts before grinding. That's the tough part, not the meat.
Agreed. It's the pre-trim of the meat before grinding that matters not the braise after. I think a simmer to meld flavors is nice but see no reason to do a longer braise. Personally, for me meatballs (beef ones used in italian style recipes) are best cooked the day before in the final sauce then served the next day.