The weekday grind

Posted by Anita on 07.02.07 12:18 PM

(c)2007 AEC  ** ALL rights reservedFrankly, I don’t know how I ever survived without my KitchenAid mixer’s meat-grinder attachment. Sure, it’s great for the occasional sausage-making session, but its real appeal lies in its ability to turn a worthy chuck roast into the world’s juiciest, tastiest hamburger in nothing flat.

When we were living in the basement, I resorted to store-ground meat a few times, and got a taste of what I’d been missing: Even when we bought good Prather Ranch ground beef, the pre-processed meat morphed into chewy, dry-ish, and lackluster patties — a pale shadow of the glorious burgers made the same beef, freshly ground.

Fortunately, grinding your own burgers is so simple it’s easy enough for a weeknight: Cube your chuck roast, run it through the grinder’s coarse plate, season the ground meat, and measure out 5 to 6 ounces per patty. Ever-so-gently, pat each portion into a thick disk, then make an indentation in the center to keep the patties flat when cooked. Grill or broil to your desired doneness, and serve on a good, lightly toasted bun — we like the pain de mie buns from Acme.

Cleanup’s a snap, too: All the grinder parts go right in the dishwasher. Even taking into account setting up the mixer — which takes all of 2 minutes — the process isn’t drastically more troublesome than opening a cellophane-covered styrofoam pack.

And in this age of mad cows, it’s comforting to know that our hamburgers contain only the parts that I put through the grinder. But even if it weren’t a safer alternative, the taste of home-ground meat alone would win me over. And if you aren’t feeding a crowd, you can make more patties and freeze them for later, although I find they lose a bit of the charm in the freeze-thaw cycle — I usually turn my leftover ground chuck into meatballs.

Whatever you do with your home-ground beef, I promise you’ll taste the difference.

(c)2007 AEC  ** ALL rights reserved(c)2007 AEC  ** ALL rights reserved(c)2007 AEC  ** ALL rights reserved(c)2007 AEC  ** ALL rights reserved(c)2007 AEC  ** ALL rights reserved

cooking, equipment, meat



Comment by Sean

We’ve been so lax about grinding our own lately … heck, we’ve got about 4 lbs of Prather ground beef in the freezer now. But you’re right — it is *always* worth the effort.

Posted on 07.02.07 at 1:46PM

Comment by cookiecrumb

D’oh! I have one of those grinders. Cranky got it for Christmas. But we haven’t used it yet. Dr. Biggles scared me off of it, saying it turns meat into paste.
Well, this changes things.
Oh, and Acme has pain de mie BUNS? Lordy. Do they also have a hot dog bun, because that will be heaven. (Not saying where the hot dogs are coming from. Not homemade. Answers to a higher authority. Like that.)

Posted on 07.02.07 at 3:16PM

Comment by Anita

I would NEVER disagree with Doc Biggles, but… um, that’s not my experience. It’s best if the meat is cold-cold-cold, even better if you put the works in the fridge or freezer for a while, but I really only do that for sausage-making where it’s an issue.

That said, I have a sharp blade on my grinder (vintage 2002), and I have heard that the newer models have a more like a pusher thingie, sans sharp edges.
This is mine:

If yours/Biggles’ looks more like this…
…then I could see how smooshage might occur.

And yes, Acme has hot-dog buns. Prather has some very, very good no-scary-stuff hot dogs, too.

Posted on 07.02.07 at 3:32PM

Comment by Tea

YUM. Are you BBQing for the 4th? Can I come? For such a burger I might just travel:-)

(PS. I am loving your new camera almost as much as you are! Gorgeous photos).

Posted on 07.02.07 at 4:02PM

Comment by Anita

Thanks, Tea. We are actually having burgers and mac salad and strawberry shortcake for the 4th. And you are -totally- invited :D

Posted on 07.02.07 at 4:17PM

Comment by therapydoc

I used to use mine to make gefilte fish:

ground trout and white fish, mixed with eggs, grated onion, dill, pepper, a little sugar, all smushed together to make balls, and boiled low, very difficult to explain if you’ve never had it, served with horseradish and beets.

Posted on 07.03.07 at 12:22PM

Comment by Kathy Ramsey

I have a brand new grinder (bought in May) and the square shank you picture does have the sharp edges. Do you know if you use the fine or coarse plate for the extrusion of your burger?

Posted on 07.05.07 at 3:29PM

Comment by Anita

Doc: never tried grinding seafood in it. Sounds like something Cameron would love. :D

Kathy: Oh, maybe they changed it back! My replacement blade is dull, dull, dull. I took it out of the box last night to make sure I wasn’t exaggerating, but no: the edges are squared off but not sharp at all. I ran it across my hand and it didn’t even scratch. We’ll have to compare sometime soon.

Posted on 07.05.07 at 3:49PM

Comment by Kathy Ramsey

After detailed conference with Anita, we agree that the new knife (since 2002) for the Kitchenaid Food Grinder is far inferior. The brand new one I have is slightly sharp, but far inferior to the forged metal of the older grinders. Which means . . . I have to get a vintage grinder and get rid of the new one.

Posted on 07.05.07 at 6:40PM

Comment by Anita

we’re having some friends over next weekend to make sausage, so I suspect we’ll have plenty of fodder for a followup post on the old vs new blade issue. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, I’m keeping my eyes on eBay for vintage parts.

Any of my local pals are very welcome to borrow our good blade when you need it.

Posted on 07.05.07 at 7:28PM

Comment by Steve Sando

You’ve inspired me. I recently pulled out the grinder and did some lamb and now I have some beef waiting to be tamed. Have you tried it with nixtamilzed corn? Would it work. I’m sure it’s not fine enough for tortillas but maybe tamales.

Posted on 07.06.07 at 8:30AM

Comment by Anita

Funny you should ask: I stumbled across a page of directions a few weeks ago and have been meaning to ask you about making my own nixtamal, but we keep missing one another at the market.

I wonder if multiple passes through the fine plate would do it, or if there’s not enough friction to really make masa. I bet you need a grain mill (KA makes an attachment for that, too!) Seems like an experiment needs doing. Could I just try grinding soaked maiz posole? Or do you think I should start with freshly nixtamalized corn?

Posted on 07.06.07 at 9:38AM

Comment by Lauren

OMG! I’m freaking out now. I’ve been using my meat grinder constantly since Anita got me over my fear of a lengthy clean up process. After grinding 7 pounds of chuck for a bbq on Tuesday, I threw the parts in the dishwasher like I always do – the plate and the blade go in a tray that I have in the front – and the blade disappeared. After tearing it apart we figured we’d just call Kitchenaid and re-order the part. No big deal. But now it is a big deal. And I have another burger bbq in a month! Ack!

Posted on 07.06.07 at 11:33AM

Comment by Anita

Lauren, that is my NIGHTMARE. Eek. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that you find it.

Posted on 07.06.07 at 11:44AM

Comment by Steve Sando

But will the grain attachment grind wet? It’s worth a try. I have a hand crank plate grinder. As soon as I really start to do this, I just pick up fresh masa and call it a day.

Posted on 07.06.07 at 1:16PM

Comment by Steve Sando

So the answer is no as to if the attachment will make masa from nixtamlized corn. It makes corn hamburger, which is pretty useless as far as I can tell.

Posted on 07.09.07 at 7:24AM

Comment by Anita

Mmmm, corn burger. :D

I checked on the KA site, and the grain mill cannot grind wet corn — it is for low-moisture, low-oil grains only. Oh well, I’ll just have to keep special-ordering fresh masa from you.

Posted on 07.09.07 at 7:38AM

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