How to grind your own hamburger meat

Dear Eric: How can I create the wonderful-tasting hamburger meat my children and I experienced growing up? We just fried it and added salt, pepper and a bit of ketchup. Honestly, it was to die for.
Now when I put (storebought) hamburger meat in the frying pan, it has the most off-putting smell.
I finally bought an expensive meat grinder and read up on the cuts of meat to use for grinding. The problem is now when I make patties, they fall apart in the pan. I do add fat when I grind my meat, but what percentage should I use? I add bread and have tried adding an egg, but that still makes it too soft. Please tell me what I can do?
Sharon D

Use the grinder size to suit your cooking style.
Dear Sharon: I, too, have experienced ground beef that had an unappealing aroma when it hit the hot pan, even though its appearance and best-before date were fine.
That most often occurred when I purchased prepackaged fresh ground beef in a large package size. That type of ground beef, sold at many large supermarkets, is often ground off-site. Various cuts and trimmings are used to make it. It then has to be transported to the store, sent prepackaged or in bulk to be packaged at the store.
That ground beef sits awhile, sealed away, and the moisture it contains (blood) can intensify in aroma the longer it does.
To avoid that, buy ground beef from a supermarket, smaller food market or butcher shop that grinds its own beef daily and sells it in bulk, not sealed under plastic. Or, as you're doing, Sharon, grind your own beef. Below are a few tips on doing so. The grinding tips can also be used for other meats, such as pork or lamb.
WHAT MEAT TO BUY
Most sources say cuts such as chuck or sirloin, or a mix of both, produces the tastiest ground beef. You could, of course, try other types such as the round.
For flavour and moistness, when making patties, meatloaf or meatballs, you want meat with a fat content in 15 to 20 per cent range. To achieve that, look for meat with a few visible ribbons of fat in it, or bit of fat cap on the outside of the meat. (You can use leaner cuts for ground beef you use in a loose form, say for a meat sauce, as you'll be draining away any melted fat from the cooked meat in the pot before adding the other ingredients.
TRIMMING, CUBING AND GRINDING THE MEAT
Cut the meat into one-to two-inch cubes. Be sure to trim any tough sinew or connective tissue that could clog up your grinder.
Before grinding the meat, place it and the grinder in separate pans in freezer 30 minutes. This makes meat and fat firmer and keeps it cool once in the machine. This will make it pass through the grinder more easily and cleanly.
Use a relatively high speed to get the meat quickly through the grinder, without warming things up.
If you put the meat right into a room-temperature grinder after cubing it, the meat and fat will warm and soften inside the machine, and that will give you a paste-like, very soft product. Not a good thing.
HOW FINE TO GRIND
According to several sources, for beef patties just made with meat and not much else except salt and pepper, a coarse grind is preferred. I used my medium grinding plate to achieve that. For meatloaf, patties and meatballs blended with other ingredients, a finer grind helps hold things together. To make a fine grind I passed the meat through the medium plate first, and then quickly ground the still-cold meat again using the fine grinding plate.
SHAPING BEEF PATTIES
When shaping beef patties using store-bought ground meat, which is already fairly compacted, do not overdo it. If you press and pack the meat even further, the cooked patty will be firm and tough in texture.
Homemade ground beef is different, because is much looser in texture. Because of that, particularly when coarsely ground, you need to press the meat more firmly together to ensure it holds together when cooked.
Before making a patty, lightly dampen your hands with cold water, as this will create a barrier that prevents the meat from sticking to them.
COOKING THE PATTIES
I make my patties about 3 /4-inch thick. When cooking on the stovetop, I'll place a skim of oil in the bottom of a skillet set over medium, to medium-high heat. When it's hot, I'll add the patties and cook them 4 to 5 minutes per side, or until cooked through and the centre reaches 160 F on an instant read meat thermometer.
Try to flip the patty only once during cooking as this will sear its exterior nicely, lock in the juices and lessen the chance of it falling apart.
Note: Soy substitute update
After my story on, and recipe for, a soy sauce substitute was published two weeks ago, I received an email from a reader named Nicole. She wanted to let me know about a substitute for soy sauce you can buy that she says has great flavour.
It's called Coconut Aminos. To learn more about it, go to coconutsecret.com.
Eric Akis is the author of the bestselling Everyone Can Cook series of cookbooks. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.
eakis@timescolonist.com


Read more: http://www.timescolonist.com/life/grind+your+hamburger+meat/6832688/story.html#ixzz234QJwZfV

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