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Jul 6, 2014 03:32 PM

Ground my meat: what went wrong?


I've been pleased with the 4 times I've previously ground my own meat for hamburgers. This last time was less pleasing by quite a bit.

I shopped for "what's on sale" but as it was feeding my in-laws I wanted it to be semi-special as well. I had nice chuck steaks (about 2#) and as they had filet on "close out" at about $6/lb for odd shaped hunks I snapped up about 1.5# of that.

I froze my grinder equipment (including the catch bowl) for a couple of hours and then chilled my cut up meat in the freezer for about 20 minutes.

I grabbed pieces from both cuts of meat alternating to try and get it close to uniform in "mix". I ground it on my "large" ring first and caught it in the cold bowl. So far so good.

I then added it back into the grinder after changing to the smaller die. (I have the Kitchen Aid grinding stuff, by the way).

By now we were starting to get a little warm I'm sure although I don't know if it had an effect on things.

I grilled my burgers (they were just about room temp when I grilled them) and hit a medium temp on them. They looked great. Juicy. Etc.

But the taste and texture... not so much!!

There was a sort of grittiness to it. Micro grit but still grit. NO I didn't grind any bones. The flavor was flat (and yes I sort of under seasoned, but still). There was maybe a mineral or liver flavor present. It didn't taste juicy like it looked. Not HORRIBLE but golly I could have done better just opening a package of grocery-ground.

My thoughts on what may have been contributing to my disappointment:

* The butcher said the filet was a little long in the tooth. That didn't matter to me but maybe it should have.
* Filet may just make crummy burgers but for the record- I love the taste and texture of filet
* Too warm , lost fat?
* My chuck wasn't real chuck or something (although it looked just like every other chuck roast /steak I've had)
* Not putting enough salt on the burgers really had significant effect

I've previously used a variety of mixed cuts: chuck, brisket, ribs, sirloin. I've always loved the results. This one was an anomaly (I hope!)

Your thoughts welcome.

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  1. I think filet of any vintage is a really poor burger choice, though I don't know about grittiness. There's a reason it's so often serve with rich, creaming sauces. Old past its best days filet is something it gives me the willies to think about.

    If you're accustomed to mixing those fattier and flavorful cuts, I'd expect you'd really be missing the flavor they bring with filet.

    1. I'm guessing you did all that freezing/chilling stuff that you'd done previously. I never do that and have never had a problem but obviously it's what you do. I also only grind once with the large die. My beef burgers are always chuck and nothing else. I wonder with the leanness of the filet, could the chuck then also not had enough fat on it? I ground a few pounds the other day and was at first concerned that they had trimmed it too well but it had great marbling. I know CHs who use short ribs but don't remember reading about filet. The chuck I ground was 50% off cause it was getting older. Never worries me a bit.

      1. IMHO, Filet brings nothing to a ground beef blend. I am not even a fan of filet on a plate. No fat , no flavor.

        A straight chuck grind (or) a 50/50 chuck / sirloin grind with a little extra fat added to make up for the leaner sirloin is also a pretty consistent winner.

        Short ribs with their extra fat also blend well with a leaner cut.

        I do take the time to trim gristle away....season.....chill meat and grind with all grinder parts being chilled as you describe.

        One of my favorites is the end of the year freezer clean out where everything gets ground with some extra striploin fat added.

        1. Filet is a terrible burger choice. It has little flavor, zippo flat, and the tenderness is lost.

          How fatty was the chuck? Unless it was half fat your burger was much, much too lean.

          I also think you really only need to grind once.

          And yes, salt makes a huge difference.

          1. I would guess the filet was too lean and it lean-ed out your mix. Also, filet is not a great source of beefy flavor.

            All of the other cuts you mention that you've mixed before all tend to have marbling, a fat cap, or both. Filet is usually very minimally marbled and has little cap.

            I also have the Kitchenaid grinder, and prefer to chill my equipment beforehand, but I've been pressed for time before and ground with room temp equipment and had not problem (smaller batch, though, as heat from friction and from the motor will increase the more you grind in one session.)