How to Make Ground Beef and Hamburger the Frugally Delicious, Lean, and Fresh Way
Learning how to make ground beef is a frugal gourmet skill you will be very glad you mastered.
Below is a list of the best tasting frugal cuts of beef to use and the essential tips and tricks you need for making superior homemade ground beef.
When you make your own ground beef for juicy delicious hamburger meat and tasty thrifty meals, you will be able to control cut, quality, freshness, and fat content - and you won't believe the amazing flavor of your own freshly ground hamburger.
Once you taste the remarkable difference, you will never go back to buying the pre-packaged multi-sourced waste scrap-filled product most people call "ground beef".
Supermarket ground beef should be called "ground scrap", or just plain "crap", because often that is where the E. Coli bacteria so often in it comes from.
It is time to free yourself from the herd and stop eating the garbage that has been causing all the recent outbreaks and recalls of meat due to food borne illness.
Grinding your own beef from just about any leaner sales priced whole cuts of beef is a much tastier and leaner alternative to most lower quality pre-packaged hamburger found at the supermarket.
The superior flavor, quality, and lower losses as grease will usually more than make up for any price differential.
Just about any of the cheaper tougher cuts will make good homemade ground beef, but the secret is to look for some fat marbling and some fat around the edges of the cuts. If no or little fat, your burgers may not be as tasty or tender.
Also try experimenting by mixing together different combinations of the below cheaper cuts of beef.
The 15 Best Frugal Cuts for Making Home-made Ground Beef
- Boneless Chuck Roast - makes the best tasting ground beef, usually has the right amount of fat, and goes on sale often. Chuck is probably the best frugal choice.
- Boneless Beef Short Ribs
- Blade Roast - look for fat marbling and some fat around the edge.
- Brisket - look for fat marbling and some fat around the edge. Can be expensive and some people have reported that it can have a liver taste.
- Flank Steak
- Stew Beef - can often be bought on sale but often will need some extra fat added.
- Hanger Steak - Try mixing 1 part Hanger Steak with 3 parts Chuck. Be aware that some people have claimed that Hanger Steak can sometimes have a slight liver taste.
- 7 Bone Chuck Roast or Steaks - often goes on sale. If it is extra lean you may need to add a little steak fat which you can often get for free from your local butcher.
- Boneless Rump - another lean and cheap cut of beef to grind.
- Round Steak
- Tri-tip Roast or Steak - Tri-tip comes from the Sirloin region of the cow and is very tasty.
- London Broil
- Flap Meat - Try mixing 1 part Flap Meat with 1 part Boneless Spare Rib Meat.
- Arm Roast - a great low fat and cheap alternative.
- Sirloin Steak (boneless) - very lean, tasty, and often on sale. May need to add some fat though.
By the way, if you want a good pork substitute for ground beef, try using Ground Pork Butt instead. Pork Butt can often be found on sale and can replace ground beef in most dishes calling for it. Or mix 1 part ground Round or Sirloin with 1 part Pork Shoulder.
For anyone interested in how to make ground beef, a meat grinder is a good investment. But if you already have a food mixer like the Kitchen Aide Stand mixer, there are special attachments you can buy for grinding meat easily. A food processor is also good for making ground meats.
Or just ask your butcher if he or she will grind your meat for you. Some will grind it for free and help you with the wrapping too.
We prefer to grind our own cuts of beef since there is a chance the butcher's meat grinder may contaminate your meat if they do not properly clean and disinfect their grinders between lots.
Also, keep in mind that some of your meat will probably end up remaining inside their grinder once done, and you may take home some other meat that may have been in their grinder before your meat is run through.
Meat Grinders and Attachments
15 Tips for How to Make Ground Beef at Home With Your Own Meat Grinder
- Chill Your Meat and Your Grinder Parts Ahead of Time - To make it a lot easier to make ground beef with your own meat grinder and with less splattering from the nozzle, cut up your meat into manageable cubes (an inch to inch and a half) and pop it into the freezer for 10 - 30 minutes or until well chilled to firmness. Chill but don't freeze your meat solid.
Also chill the working parts of your meat grinder (die, feed shaft, blade) for about an hour in the fridge if possible or if it will fit, place the whole grinder in the freezer about 10 minutes. It will make meat grinding easier by counteracting friction heat that can melt fat during the grinding process. Keeping the fat solid and the meat firm makes the process easier and makes for better meat texture.
- Use Waxpaper Between Patties - Once your hamburger is ground, pre-form your patties and freeze the stacks with 2 squares of wax paper between each patty to make it easier to take out single hamburger patties if you so desire. You can always break the patties up for other dishes too.
- Add Some Bacon Fat to Your Hamburger - One experiment you can try is to grind up a little bacon directly into your ground beef, or add some rendered bacon fat into the mix at the end to add a little extra fat to make your hamburgers and other ground beef recipes more juicy and flavorful.
A little Bacon Fat is a good idea especially if you are grinding very lean cuts of beef with no visible fat marbling or little white fat around the edges. Very little fat makes for very dry and bland burgers. Fat from pork shoulders is another good alternative to bacon fat.
- Make a Panade to Add Juiciness - One way to make a juicy burger without adding a lot of extra fat is to soak some bread in milk (Panade) and mix it in with your ground beef.
- Using a Food Processor - You can use your food processor to make ground beef, but the trick is to chill the meat, bowl, and blade before processing. Also cut your beef into 1 inch cubes and pulse smaller batches no more than about 10 times, checking consistency between pulses. Do not over-process your meat or the texture will be lost. You want it to be a little coarser. Don't turn it into beef moose.
- Use a Medium Size Grinding Die - follow the manufacturers directions that came with your meat grinder, but in most cases your medium size die, or one-forth inch die, will probably give you the best texture of ground beef.
- How Many Patties Per Pound of Meat? - just to give you some idea, you can expect to get roughly two nice hamburger patties for each pound of Chuck (unless you are really frugal). Or in other words, you will get a quarter pounder hamburger for each half pound of chuck. It depends on how much fat gets ground in with your meat. When the beef cooks it will lose some mass due to water and fat cooking out.
- Try Doing a Double Grind - Your finished ground beef will hold together better and have better fat distribution if you start with a larger sized grind the first time and then re-grind the meat a second time with a finer size die. The second grind usually will go much faster.
- Do Not Over-Handle the Ground Meat - When you form your hamburger patties keep handling to a minimum because it can affect the texture.
- Always Unplug Grinder Before Unstopping - If you do not take the time to chill your meat, or if your blade is dull, or if the threaded grinder ring is not tight you may have problems with sinews causing the grinder not to work as well. Before trying to unstop your grinder be sure to unplug it and always follow manufacturer directions such as for using the plunger to feed in meat, rather than your fingers.
- Tips to Limit Mess - When grinding meat it is possible you may get some little droplets or spatters ejecting out of the meat grinder, especially if you don't chill everything as mentioned in the first tip or if your meat cuts are wet. So try taping a paper towel over the exit nozzle to catch most of the droplets.
Another alternative is to secure a large bag to the outlet nozzle using a rubber band, this will catch the meat and any splattering. Make sure it is food grade material like a large Zip lock bag for example. Also be sure to grind your meat in a location where it will be easy to clean and control any mess or contamination such as by droplets on clean dishes.
- Wash Hands, Protect Eyes, Where Gloves - Be aware that when you are working with raw meats there is a higher potential to come into contact with pathogens that may be in or on the meat. Most people never think about protecting their eyes while grinding meat, but your eyes can become easily infected by any splashes of juice because your eyes are a warm moist place that is a favorable entry point for any microorganisms to get a foothold and enter your body.
Also consider getting some of the cheap plastic foodservice gloves especially if you have any open wounds on your hands. Gloves will also keep meat from getting under your nails or keep bacteria from under your nails from contaminating your meat. It's a good idea to cut your nails ahead of time either way. Always wash your hands before and after grinding meat and properly disinfect everything you used for grinding your meat before and after the process.
- Clean Grinder and Make Breadcrumbs for Meatloaf - There is nothing like a nice juicy meatloaf made from freshly ground beef. For homemade breadcrumbs to add to your best meatloaf recipe, just run a few slices of stale bread through your grinder once you have ground all your meat. This will help remove some of the residual ground meat that remains inside. Then just mix the breadcrumbs into your meatloaf before cooking.
- How to Clean a Meat Grinder or Attachment - Most meat grinders or meat grinding attachments can be completely or partially disassembled. So as soon as possible after grinding is done, take apart the grinder and soak parts in hot soapy water for a little while, then scrub to remove all meat particles and rinse clean, discarding the first wash water.
Then to sanitize the grinder parts soak the parts in clean water with a few tablespoons of household bleach added. Or spray with vinegar and/or 3% Hydrogen Peroxide (one after the other in any order works the best) and let air dry.
You want to be sure to kill any bacteria and remove all residual meat particles on which bacteria would grow. The Kitchen Aid Meat Grinder Attachment is great because it completely disassembles and has few nooks and crannies making it very easy to clean.
- Ground Beef Flavoring Ideas - there is a plethora of recipes for great homemade hamburger meat. Here are just a few suggestions...
For each pound of ground chuck mix in a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, a half tablespoon of fresh Thyme, a half teaspoon of Kosher salt, a pinch of black pepper, a half cup diced onion, and 1 tablespoon of minced garlic.
Another idea which I have yet to try but a friend swears makes great hamburgers is to add some salsa to the meat mix (careful, salsa is often high in sodium).
For cooking, I know of many folks who say that griddle burgers are much better than grilled or charbroiled. A flat-top grill retains more grease under the patty so the hamburgers tend to be juicier and brown nicely.
Do you have any great hamburger meat recipes or special tips for how to make ground beef for hamburgers? You can share your tips with the world by leaving a comment below.
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