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Monday, July 9, 2012

ChezCindy: Fresh Ground Beef Burgers




I don't remember why I bought the grinder attachment for my stand mixer (I've had it a few years) but I use it quite a bit.  I must have seen a great recipe or process that I wanted to try.  Or maybe it was because of a nostalgic memory.  My parents had an old-fashioned hand-crank grinder that they clamped onto the kitchen table.  I remember my dad making "ham salad" by grinding bologna, pickles and onions, mixing it with salad dressing for sandwiches.  We really liked it on white bread sandwiches.  Anyway, I recommend having the grinder attachment.  It's a fun gadget to add to your mixer and there are great recipes to experiment with. 

This past weekend, I needed to use a large piece of chuck that had taken residence in my freezer since February.  It's original destiny was to be a braised pot roast, but winter weather ran out and it was time to rethink my purchase.  Burgers on the grill! 

Grinding your own beef for burgers may sound extravagant but it makes a difference in taste and quality.  I really like grinding a cut of lamb for lamb burgers, or fresh ground pork to use in a casserole dish like lasagna.  But the topper is grinding meat for meatballs.  Once you have ground the meat, you run it and the other ingredients and seasonings back through the grinder for a second grind. This will combine everything into a homogeneous mixture for perfectly seasoned meatballs with great texture.

The process is easy.  Just keep the meat really cold until ready to grind.  Working quickly, cut the meat into medium-size pieces; place a large bowl under the attachment to catch the meat; using the plunger, press it through the grinder. Once you patty-up the meat or shape into meatballs, proper clean up is also important.  Detach all pieces and run it through hot soapy water, using a bottle brush to clean inside the feeding tube. 

Now if you want to get extravagant, try making your own blend of ground beef like the high-end restaurants do.  They will use several cuts of beef, (chuck, sirloin, brisket, etc.) to make their signature burgers.  Or blend chuck with chorizo for a Spanish-style burger.  Have fun experimenting and maybe even making your own memories. 

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