pink slime free in northernn new england
Hannaford only guarantees that their 80% ground beef is pink slime free. It's the only one they grind up in house and it says "in house trim" on the label.
Have you checked any grocery stores?
I used to purchase Hannaford's "Nature's Place" ground beef because it is (as I understand it) still Wolfe's Neck Farm beef. However, the last several times I was in the grocery the meat was in a pre-packaged block that was dense and unappetizing looking. I'm all done with that.
If you have a kitchenaid mixer, I highly recommend getting the meat grinder attachment. I've convinced 5 of my friends to do so and they've all thanked me tremendously. Buy whole cuts of meat yourself, so you know that the meat is coming from one cow instead of potentially hundreds (no joke). It is incredibly easy to use and the quality of your burgers and whatever you make will be worlds apart from anything that is already ground.
The Kitchenaid attachment only runs for $50. There are several stand alone models out there too.
Glad to hear you made the jump to grinding your own. You will be surprised how frequently you use the grinder and how easy it is to do. A couple things that will help your grinding:
1. put the metal components of the grinder as well as the meat chunks to be ground in the freezer for about 10 to 15 minutes prior to grinding.
2. If you're using the Kitchenaid attachment, put a little canola oil on the metal axle that goes into the machine. It will help the piece run more smoothly and not rub against the other metal pieces.
As for the meat:
Generally the "cheaper" cuts make the best burgers because of the fat content and the overall beefy flavor. I really like to use brisket or boneless short ribs for my burgers because its well marbled with enough fat that I don't need to mix it with any other cuts.
Chuck is the old stand-by but it usually comes in a roast which yields a lot of meat. Furthermore, chuck is a less marbled meat than brisket or short rib (there are chunks of fat rather than it being well marbled), so you'd need to be conscious of blending the meat and fat evenly. Some people grind chuck a second time to even it out, or they may add some fat to balance it out. Flank yields a ton of flavor, but you definitely need to add some fat like suet or bone marrow to the mix.
If you really want to splurge, go with boneless rib eye. The beef gods would curse you, though, for ruining a good steak.
Stay completely away from filet. Not enough fat. Sirloin is seriously lacking in the fat too, so you'd need to blend it with a fattier cut. I never buy sirloin. It's more expensive than flank (another meat that requires blending) and far less flavorful.
Hope this helps!