View Full Version : Just ordered a meat grinder: what do I buy?

09-21-2012, 12:06 PM
I just ordered an STX Turboforce 3000 SERIES (http://www.amazon.com/STX-TURBOFORCE-3000-SERIES-ATTACHEMENT/dp/B0012KJBR0/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1348242536&sr=8-2&keywords=meat+grinder) (their name/ad copy sounds almost comical—like they came up with it while drinking Powerthirst (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qRuNxHqwazs)—but it had great reviews on Amazon). I’m on my way to the market tomorrow—what should I be getting?

We have a couple varieties of Penzeys (http://www.penzeys.com) sausage spices and a vacuum sealer to handle large amounts of product-novelty-binge-use. What am I looking to get for ground beef? Just any chuck roast? What about pork for sausages? Any particular cuts of chicken (white/dark meat)?

I’ve seen that we’ll need to keep a lot in the fridge during the process, but that’s about it. Any cooking/shopping advice will be greatly appreciated!

(Oh, bonus points if you can point to a dogfood recipe too—my in-law’s pooch will thank you)

Swords to Plowshares
09-21-2012, 12:13 PM
Sirloin makes good burgers (add fat if necessary).

For pork, the cut you want is shoulder. Again add fat if necessary. Many German sausages are a blend of pork shoulder and veal shoulder.

Also - a general tip - I recommend that your ingredients when grinding, especially for sausage.

09-21-2012, 12:21 PM
Depending on use, of course. I'd recommend chuck for hamburgers, fat and all. But trim off the really hard stuff first. Boneless ribs work well, also.

09-21-2012, 12:22 PM
For pork sausages, pork shoulder (Boston butt) has the right ratio of fat to lean, so you don't have to add any additional fat to your sausage. For ground beef, chuck is the usual choice if you want something fattier (we're looking at approximately 75-80% lean with chuck, depending on the trim). For hamburgers, chuck works great, but I particularly like to grind down (boneless) short ribs. They are BEEFY in flavor, and also have a good amount of fat on them. I'd guess similar levels to chuck. Brisket is also very good for burgers.

If you want something leaner, sirloin grinds up okay (try a top sirloin roast), as well any of the round roasts. The round roasts tend to be less beefy than the other cuts, so I don't really recommend them, although top round is still reasonable. It's eye of round that I don't like.

For chicken, boneless, skinless thighs are best for sausages, patties, burgers, etc. Ground breast works okay, too, but has very little fat, so I only use it for stir-fry (although I usually just cleaver the breast into tiny pea-sized pieces rather than going through the trouble of grinding it.)

IMPORTANT TIP: Semi-freeze your meats before you grind them. I generally try to cut the meat into cubes (maybe 2"x2"x2") and place them in the freezer for about an hour or so, until it begins to get hard, but isn't frozen through. It is also advisable to freeze all your metal grinding parts (the die, the blade, the screw or whatever it's called, etc.) If your meat isn't cold enough, what happens is the fat doesn't grind properly and it begins to melt and gum up the grinding plate. The meat then is kind of squeezed like a paste through the holes and stuffed-up fat and you get a grind that is a pile of oily mush. You don't want that. You want the fat to be distinct and the grind to have an "airy" quality to it.

For dog food, I just do 1/3 by weight of rice, meat, and ground or food processed raw vegetable like sweet potato or green beans.

09-21-2012, 12:32 PM
Also, if you want to do sausages, you want to pick up some hog casings. Ask at your local supermarket's butcher counter. If they don't sell it, ask where you can buy it. If you get into sausage making, you'll also want one of these (http://www.grizzly.com/products/5-lb-Sausage-Stuffer-Vertical/H6252).

I do not recommend sausage stuffing through the grinder. Your grinder looks similar to what I bought, and I tried the stuffing attachment. The problem was that it mushes around the meat too much. I did not get a good final texture from the sausage. The plunger-crank style of stuffer I linked to above does a wonderful job of keeping the texture: you just push the meat through, and it also works faster (at least for me) than using the grinder as a stuffer.

09-21-2012, 01:27 PM
You might want to invest in a large freezer now, and get deals on buying larger quantities of meat. This obviously lowers the cost, but now you could make really, really good freshly ground hamburgers from better quality meat that you might not normally use/prepare in traditional ways.

09-21-2012, 01:57 PM
I wasn't impressed with the Penzeys sausage spices to be honest. The bratwurst spice was decent, but the italian and breakfast sausage ones weren't nearly intense enough for me- they both left the resulting sausage kind of lackluster.

I'd just get a good solid book on sausage making ("Charcuterie" by Ruhlman and Polcyn comes to mind) and follow their recipes until you have a handle on it.

Little Nemo
09-21-2012, 02:08 PM
My father has a meat grinder and his favorite thing to use it for is grinding up corned beef to make hash. My parents buy extra corned beef when it's on sale for St Patrick's Day and freeze it for the rest of the year.

09-21-2012, 02:25 PM
Happiness for everybody, free, and no one will go away unsatisfied!

09-21-2012, 02:51 PM
I second "Charcuterie." That will give you everything you need to know about the basics of sausage making, as well as other cured meat products.

09-21-2012, 03:09 PM
I third Charcuterie (http://www.amazon.com/Charcuterie-Craft-Salting-Smoking-Curing/dp/0393058298/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1348254508&sr=8-1&keywords=charcuterie). It goes over everything - technique, recipes, equipment, etc. It's really all you need.

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