How and Why to DIY Ground Beef

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Today I am sharing my latest kitchen discovery. I am truly excited to share what I’ve learned about improving the flavor and quality of the ground beef that I serve my family.

I always want to feed my family the most delicious, high quality food possible, so I love reading recipes I find in magazines, cook books, and online sites. I also enjoy watching cooking shows on television. One of my favorite shows is America’s Test Kitchen. The scientific approach they take to developing or improving recipes makes the information they share completely credible and I come away from every episode with new information and cooking techniques. A couple of months ago I viewed a re-broadcast episode about making “the best” hamburgers. The main tip I picked up from that episode was to never use pre-packaged ground beef from the super market. Instead they suggested picking your own meat and asking for it to be ground at the butcher counter or, better yet, grinding your own meat at home. They demonstrated how to grind your own meat in a food processor. I thought, “That’s great! No need to purchase another piece of kitchen equipment.”(Honestly, I probably wouldn’t have tried this at all if I’d needed another kitchen tool.)

A few days later, I decided to try making my own ground beef. I ground a pound of the same cut they used in the episode, a tri-tip steak.  Tri-tip is a very lean cut, so they recommended adding a couple of tablespoons of very cold butter cut into tiny cubes to increase the fat content a bit.  This was a very quick and easy process using my food processor and the beef was so delicious and we enjoyed those burgers so much that I will never, (Oops! I subscribe to the philosophy of “never say never”} so I guess I will instead say that I have no plans to ever again buy pre-packaged ground beef.

Here’s how I made a pound of ground chuck:

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I made ground chuck for tacos. Chuck is more fatty than the tri-tip so there was no need to add any butter. The texture of homemade ground beef is less chewy than pre-packaged ground beef and the flavor is amazing.

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So now I am on the prowl for good deals on chuck, sirloin, tri-tips and short ribs. I freeze them in 1 pound packages, ready for making fresh ground beef as we need it for burgers and other dishes.

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Since watching that episode of America’s Test Kitchen and making my own ground beef for the first time, I’ve seen the chefs on another show that I often watch, The Kitchen, use sirloin and beef short ribs to make ground beef for hamburgers. And just this week, I ran across this article on the EPICURIOUS website dealing with the same topic. From these diverse sources of information I am now convinced that freshly ground beef is preferable to pre-packaged ground beef for the following reasons, all of which may affect the safety and flavor of the meat:

  • Pe-packaged ground beef often is made from scraps of  less desirable parts of the cow, less desirable cows, or frequently from multiple cows.
  • Pre-packaged ground beef is generally ground twice which makes the meat more compressed and it has fewer air pockets that trap juices in your burgers.
  • Pre-packaged ground beef may have seasonings added.
  • Pre-packaged ground beef may have been ground far from the store.
  • Pre-packaged ground beef tends to have inconsistent texture and flavor. You just don’t know what you’ll get each time you buy it.

If you decide to have the butcher grind the meat for you, it is recommended that you ask for a ¼ inch grind and ask the butcher to grind the meat only one time.

But I encourage you to at least try making your own ground beef once. I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how much better the meat tastes. And all your ground beef dishes will be greatly enhanced by using freshly ground meat.

Have a lovely weekend. Maybe make some burgers 🙂

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