Ever since reading the hamburger story in The New York Times a couple of weeks ago, I’ve been wondering just how hard it could be to grind my own burger at home. I mean, we don’t generally buy frozen, pre-formed hamburger patties, but we do occasionally buy packaged ground beef at the grocery store. And one theory is that when the beef scraps used to make ground beef come from all different parts of the cow (and possibly different parts of the country, or the world) there’s just a better chance of some illness-causing bacteria getting in the mix.
I am not losing sleep over this, but what could it hurt to make homemade burger? It could be a good way to control the fat content since I’m trying to diet, and perhaps it would even taste better.
First, the tools: My Kitchen Aid mixer came with a rebate offer for a free attachment, and I, thinking maybe I’d make sausage someday, chose the grinder. Which comes in quite handy now. But not everyone owns a grinder attachment, much less a Kitchen Aid mixer (mine was the result of years of whining). I did some checking, and meat grinders can be had for as little as $30 for a hand-cranked model that clamps to the edge of a counter or table. They range all the way up into the hundreds of dollars.
The meat: I bought a chuck roast for $4 and some change at Kroger. I trimmed off the big chunks of fat but left the inner fat alone. I cut the meat into long strips as directed by the instruction manual that came with the grinder attachment. In the next picture you can see how the meat looked after I cut it and how much fat I trimmed away (upper right).
A blog reader had mentioned to me that the fat and sinew can get clogged up in the grinder, which I found to be true. But it wasn’t too bad – I just had to pause at the end of the first run-through, take the attachment apart, clear out some of the fatty stuff that was caught up in the blade, and put the attachment back on. I ran the meat through twice, as the instructions advised, and was left with a beautiful mound of bright red, fresh ground beef.
As I browned the meat for spaghetti, my husband and I both commented that it smelled more like a pot roast cooking than hamburger. It released a lot of juices as it cooked, but not a lot of grease. It was very tender and had a less greasy flavor than regular burger, too. Maybe some burger enthusiasts would prefer more fat in the mix for greater flavor, but I think this homemade burger could be used to make some delicious hamburger patties or meatballs.
In the long run, the worst part of the process was washing up the attachment after I was finished with it. It wasn’t any cheaper than buying pre-ground burger, but I think from now on I’ll keep an eye on the sales and buy up odd cuts of beef when I see them so that I can turn them into homemade burger. That could save us money.
Anyone else have thoughts on this?