KitchenAid mixers tend to be status symbols for home cooks. Shiny and gleaming in their beautiful colors, nearly everyone feels the need to show them off on the counter instead of hiding them away in a cupboard. These days, a KitchenAid mixer can do almost anything with the right attachment, such as making ice cream, rolling and cutting pasta, and even grinding meat. Keep reading to learn how to grind meat with a KitchenAid stand mixer.
If you have ever thought to yourself, "I wonder if I should grind my own meat at home?" but never actually pulled the trigger, we're here to tell you that yes, yes you should. There are so many advantages to grinding your own meat at home, such as:
- Bragging Rights - Anyone that grinds their own burger meat deserves a pat on the back for being extra cool.
- Better Flavor - Unless you've got an awesome butcher that provides you with amazing ground beef, you're stuck with what's available at the grocery store. Who knows what's in there since the only information given on the label is usually just the percentage of fat. Grinding your own means you control what cuts to use (we like sirloin and brisket) which in turn means your burgers come off the grill tasting better than ever.
- It's Safer - The meat in that pound of ground beef from the grocery store is probably from more than one animal and probably not from the nicest parts. By grinding your own at home, you're controlling not just what goes in and comes out, but also the sanitary conditions ensuring no cross-contamination.
- Better Texture - Science tells us that overly working or smushing ground beef is a bad thing. By compressing the protein chains, they link up together producing a spongier burger patty. Grinding your own beef and keeping the grind nice and fluffy, you'll be eating the juiciest burgers of your life.
Whether you are working with a dedicated meat grinder machine or an attachment for the KitchenAid, all grinders have essentially the same parts:
- The Plunger and Tray - This is where you add the meat to the grinder. Keeping the tray full while feeding meat into the feed tube makes things a little more efficient. Use the plunger to push the meat down and into the screw.
- The Screw - This is the heart and workhorse of the machine. This part moves the meat forward toward the blade and plate.
- The Blade and Plates - These turn the chunks of meat into ground meat. The blade spins against the plate (also known as a die) and chops the meat as it gets extruded through the plate. The plate is a flat piece of metal with different diameter holes, including fine (3mm), medium (4.5mm), and course (8mm). The size of the plate determines the fineness of the final grind.
- The Cover - This is used to keep the blade and plate in place during operation.
Let's be real for a second. Grinding meat at home isn't rocket science. In all honesty, all you need to do is assemble the machine, turn it on, and start feeding your cubed meat into the tube. For the KitchenAid attachment, setting the machine to a speed of 6-8 is best. Here's what you need to do for optimum results.
Step 1: Keep everything cold.
Heat is the enemy when grinding meat so if you have the extra real estate, keep your grinder parts in the freezer. If not, pop them in at least an hour before you plan on grinding anything.
Step 2: Trim the meat very well.
Sinew and connective tissue are kryptonite to meat grinders so make sure you clean your meat extremely well before starting. Speaking from personal experience, it really sucks to have to stop mid-grind, take the machine apart, and clean everything when sinew is wrapped around the screw and blade.
Step 3: Chill the meat before grinding.
Once you've trimmed the meat (but before you start grinding), place the cubed meat in the freezer for 30-45 minutes. Grinding semi-frozen meat is easier for the machine and also helps keep things cold while grinding.
Step 4: Grind from large to small.
Performing two grinds is usually just for making sausage, but we felt it was still an important note to make. Grinding twice, once through the coarse plate and once through the fine plate, results in a fine, more emulsified grind.
Step 5: Watch for signs of temperature changes.
As we said before, heat will ruin a grind. As you grind, pay attention to the meat coming out of the plate. You should be able to see the red meat and white fat individually. If it starts to look pink and gluey, this means things are getting too warm, the fat is melting, and you're in trouble. Turn off the machine, take it apart, and chill everything down.
Keeping your grinder attachment clean is the most important part of the process. If it's not cleaned properly, you run the risk of getting very sick from cross-contamination and bacterial infections. Since the grinder parts are small and sometimes hard to clean, spending the extra time to make sure it's done correctly is imperative.
The cleaning process is much easier if done right after the grinding process. Otherwise, bits of meat can stick to the interior parts. Even if it says that the parts are dishwasher safe, we still highly recommend washing everything by hand.
Step 1: Remove the cover from the end of the plate assembly.
Step 2: Remove the grinder attachment from the mixer.
Step 3: Take the housing apart by removing the plate, blade, and screw.
Step 4: Place all the parts in the sink.
Fill the sink with warm, soapy water, and scrub the parts with a soft-bristled brush to remove any stubborn bits of meat. The sprayer can help with this step.
Step 5: Dry all the parts completely before storing them.
As we said before, if you have room to store the parts in the freezer, do that. Otherwise, just make sure they stay clean and dry.
Grinding your own meat at home has never been easier thanks to the ever-growing list of attachments for the KitchenAid mixer. And don't think that you can only make burgers with the grinder attachment, either! Grind cooked potatoes to make gnocchi, hard cheeses like parmesan, or chickpeas for hummus.
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