Article first published as Grinding Beef for Burgers on Blogcritics.
Paul wanted to do something special for my birthday BBQ, so he suggested we grind our own beef to make hamburgers. I was a bit skeptical. I knew it would probably have a superior flavor, but it sounded like a lot of work and might be more expensive than just buying ground beef at the store.
I was pleasantly surprised by the whole process. In order to grind meat or anything else, you must have the right equipment. Luckily, I already had a KitchenAid mixer and the complete set of mixer attachments. A quick read through the instruction booklet and we were ready to go. The grinder attachment was very easy to use and turned out beef of the perfect consistency. It took about five minutes to grind approximately eight pounds of chuck, enough for 20 burger patties. My husband grilled them to perfection and our guests raved about the food. It was a great way to turn a simple burger BBQ into a special meal.
Here’s my list of reasons why you should try grinding your own beef.
- Food Safety. Ground meat has a lot more surface area than a whole roast. Greater surface area = more places for bacteria to grow. A freshly ground beef patty can be cooked medium instead of well done, with less risk.
- Price. It was cheaper to buy a chuck roast on sale for $2.39 per pound than ground beef at $2.99 per pound on the same day.
- Quality. The burgers were amazing. They had a great crumbly texture and were juicy. Very little seasoning was needed. A little salt and pepper was plenty to enhance the beef flavor.
- Versatility. When grinding you can add things like whole garlic cloves or chunks of onion along with the beef for a custom burger mix.
Tips to make everything turn out great:
- To ensure a superior product everything should be kept cold. Place the grinder parts in the freezer to chill before starting to grind. Take the whole chuck roast out of the refrigerator to cut into chunks and then return it to the fridge to cool off again before grinding.
- Buy meat on sale. Look for a chuck roast or other inexpensive cut that has a fair amount of fat marbling. Too lean and your burgers will be dry.
- Use enough pressure to form the ground meat into patties that will stay together. Don’t overwork the meat or the heat from your hands will cause the fat to start melting and you’ll lose the nice texture.
- Don’t grind it too fine. Read your owner’s manual for your grinder to see which plate to use. For the KitchenAid grinder we used the coarse plate (bigger of the two) and it worked out great.
- For a step by step look at how to do it see “Grinding Beef for Burgers” on About.com.
- Don’t salt the meat until you are ready to cook. See The Burger Lab for complete descriptions and photos why you should wait.