Don’t worry, I’m not going to persuade you to be a vegan or to stop eating ground meat. I wouldn’t do such a thing.
But watch out for ground Turkey till they get this salmonella junk settled (*See 1st reason below for more info*). These outbreaks tend to make people uneasy, but they actually encourage me — encourage me to just stop depending on massive conglomerate food companies and take control of what I’m eating.
Speaking of which, America’s Test Kitchen taught me how easy it is to ground your OWN meat. I don’t know why I had never thought of this before. I always thought you needed a meat grinder or an expensive Kitchen Aid attachment, but they show you that you can just use a food processor! Duh. Here’s my favorite Food Network host of all time, Alton Brown, discusses meat grinding too.
Here are some reasons why grinding meat at home is awesome:
You’ll Know What You’re Eating
How do we really know what cuts are used in the ground meat at the store? We don’t. Meat factories use various low-grade parts of the animal that are generally more likely to be in closer contact to the feces of the animal—thereby raising the likelihood of E. coli. Gross. Those nasty pieces are usually treated with some kind of ammonia to kill that bacteria and carbon monoxide to keep them looking freshly killed and blood red. Gross.
Wouldn’t you feel so much better about that burger knowing where it came from?
You’ll Control the Calories & Flavor
Control how much fat you want in your ground meat instead of guessing. This goes for all ground meat—beef, turkey, chicken, salmon, pork, sausage, etc. Cooking is all about customization to what YOU want.
One might love the taste of real pork sausage, but may want to cut calories (and hates turkey sausage, like me). By making your own sausage, one could maybe use half pork, half turkey, and add as much sage, spice or garlic as they want. It’s brilliant.
You’ll Spend Less
Let’s look at turkey. Ground turkey can cost as much as $6 a pound (seriously?), where buying a full turkey would cost as low as $.99 – $1.75 a pound. I know not all of us have the time or energy to buy, cut and grind a 20 pound turkey, but like everything in life, we must choose our sacrifice. If time = money, then buy your $6 a pound ground turkey and don’t complain. If you’ve got an hour or so and want to save some crazy money, AND look cool in front of your friends, grind up the bird yourself (gross).
So, once you grind/food-process your turkey meat, you may notice a big plate of bones and fat. Don’t you dare throw that away! While you’re grinding the meat, bring a big pot of water to a boil and throw all of these leftovers in it. For extra flavor, add 2 parts chopped onions, 1 part celery, 1 part carrot, and maybe a few cloves of garlic or bay leaves (don’t salt it). Cook that for a few hours, drain the junk out, and bam, you’ve got some amazing stock that you can either freeze or refrigerate. This will also save you bucks in the long run. Good stock is expensive…for suckers.
You’ll Make Better Food
Everyone knows that better ingredients make better dishes. I guarantee that you and your guests will be able to tell the difference in taste—the same way we can all just tell when a cook makes something totally from scratch.
For more tips on grinding your own meat, here’s a nice little article from the New York Times.
Got any more tips?