Cut the meat into 1-inch cubes and partially freeze.
Do you grind your own meat? We started doing this a year or two ago, and we have found that we really like having control over the quality, freshness, and types of cuts going into our ground meat. And it's really not that hard to do! We've used this easy food processor method for making everything from chili to hamburgers.
What You Need
Meat - You can use any cut or any blend of meats called for in your recipe, or whichever cuts you prefer. Commercial ground beef and pork generally uses top or bottom round, shoulder, and chuck cuts. We like cuts that show some visible fat, at least 15% - 20%. If we go much leaner, we find that the meat ends up dry and tasteless.
a sharp knife
a baking sheet
a food processor
1. Cut the Meat into 1-Inch Cubes - Cutting the meat into same-sized chunks will help it grind more quickly, easily, and uniformly.
2. Partially Freeze the Cubes - Spread the cubes out on a parchment-lined baking sheet, making sure they don't touch. Freeze until the edges are stiff but the middles are still pliable, about 20 minutes. This will help the food processor blade to cut the meat cleanly, rather than tearing or smearing it.
3. Grind the Meat in Batches - Fill your food processor about half-way (roughly 8-ounces of meat) and grind it in about 8 - 10 one-second pulses, until it looks coarsely ground. Empty the meat into a bowl and repeat with the remaining meat.
4. Check Over Meat - Check through the meat for large pieces. Re-grind pieces of meat and discard any tough gristle.
5. Use Immediately or Freeze - We usually grind just what we need for the recipe we're making. You can also freeze any extra for another time, which is handy if you find a good bargain on meat and for quick meals.
We first learned this technique from a Cook's Illustrated recipe for old-fashioned burgers and have adopted it for all our recipes calling for ground meat. Mark Bittman uses a similar technique without the freezing step:
• For the Love of a Good Burger by Mark Bittman in the New York Times.
(Image: Emma Christensen)