The trouble with reading a lot of food literature or listening to one too many food podcasts is that sometimes you get the bad news. The news you don’t want to confront. Such is the case with ground beef.
So I am listening to one of my food podcasts one day when the person being interviewed starts to go on and on about ground beef. How a package of it in the supermarket can come from multiple animals of dubious origins. How those animals are pumped full of antibiotics to keep the food supply safe. Remember your doctor warning you against taking too many antibiotics because they’d lower your resistance to disease? Well, you don’t have to worry about that anymore. Just eat a hamburger.
I hate the food police. So unpleasant. So strident. But I cannot ignore the information and I decide to make my own ground beef from antibiotic-free meat. I will say right off the bat that this gets expensive. But here’s the thing that makes it worth doing. You can control not only the quality of the meat but the amount of fat in your ground beef. If you are one of those people who only buys 90/10 ground beef, you can just click on over to another blog. Ten percent fat is like having no fat at all. You want at least 80/20 and I go even further than that.
What you need to make your own ground beef is, first of all, several cuts. Start with a good old chuck roast. If you used nothing else, you’d be fine. A basic chuck roast has enough fat to get you to that 20 percent mark. But if you want to make it even better, add in some boneless short ribs or a brisket. Don’t get caught up on proportions. It’s all good.
Then what you need is a big stand mixer (KitchenAid) and a grinder attachment. You can use a hand grinder, but I would advise against it unless you are behind on your weight lifting at the Y. Make sure every part is scrupulously clean and extremely cold. I put all the attachments in the freezer for half an hour before I begin. And then it just gets simple. Chunk up the beef, removing any silver skin you find. And run it through the grinder, which comes with two hole sizes. To make it simple, one is bigger than the other. First use the bigger size. Then switch plates and grind the beef again using the smaller size.
Now, you will be asking – as well you should – if all this is worth the effort. I wondered that, too. So I performed the simplest of tests. I fried a hamburger. Just formed a couple of patties, dusted them liberally with salt and pepper and fried them in my cast iron skillet.
It’s worth it. It’s so worth it. The burgers were juicier than any I’ve ever made before. And beefier, if that is a word. And I didn’t have to push any unpleasant thoughts from my mind about where the ground beef came from because I knew exactly where it came from.
Now will this keep me from my beloved Big Mac, which I must have at least twice a year? Actually, it might. I am getting pickier and pickier about the quality of the food I eat. And, at the end of the day, I am getting less certain that the big food purveyors have my best interests at heart. Much less certain.