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How to Grind Meat with a Food Processor

Why Should You Grind Your Meat at Home? 

Buying ground meat at the grocery store is a gamble; unless your butcher grinds it to order, you have no idea what you’re getting. The cut, fat content, and texture of ground meat sold in stores vary greatly. 

However, when you grind it in a food processor, you have complete control over all variables. You can achieve the ideal grind for beef, pork, poultry, and seafood. Your food processor can also assist with thinly slicing meat, which can be difficult without a commercial meat slicer or a chef’s knife with a razor-sharp blade and a steady hand. This enables home cooks to prepare dishes that would otherwise be left to the experts. 

Here are some techniques for grinding meat in a food processor that we’ve discovered. 

What Kinds of Meat Can a Food Processor Grind? 

All types of meat are ground with a food processor. Before processing, the meat must be deboned, skinless, and cut into chunks. Here are some of our favorite meats for food processor grinding: 

  • Sirloin steak tips (for Juicy Pub-Style Burgers) 
  • thighs of boneless, skinless turkey (for Juicy Grilled Turkey Burgers) 
  • Sizeable shrimp (for Shrimp Burgers) 
  • Fillets of skinless cod (for Lemon-Basil Cod Cakes) 
  • Pork tenderloin (for Thai Pork Lettuce Wraps) 
  • Un-boned beef short ribs 
  • Chuck-eye roast without bones 
  • Country-style boneless pork ribs 

Getting the Perfect Grind 

Store-bought ground beef is frequently over-processed, so no matter how carefully you prepare it, it will be dense and heavy. It cooks more tenderly when meat is ground at home to the perfect consistency. The exact grind size will depend on the type of meat and the dish being prepared. The following visual cues will help you determine when your grind is optimal. 

Using a Food Processor to Grind Meat 

1. Before processing, cut meat into chunks and partially freeze it. 

Cutting meat and poultry into 1/2-inch cubes makes it easier to process, and partially freezing it ensures that the final product is chopped but not pulverized. To accomplish this, place the meat chunks in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and put them in the freezer. Freeze for 30 minutes or until very firm and beginning to harden around the edges but still malleable. 

2. Make a paste from a portion of the primary ingredient. 

In dishes such as turkey burgers and shrimp burgers (below), a portion of the main ingredient is ground into a paste and used to bind the remainder of the dish, which has a coarser texture. This allows the flavor of the ingredients to shine, as you do not need to include eggs or a bready binder. 

For turkey burgers, we use three ounces of the 1.5 pounds of turkey called for in the recipe to create a paste that helps the burgers retain moisture. We use one-third of the required 1.5 pounds of shrimp to bind the mixture for shrimp patties. 

3. Combine multiple cuts of meat for the ideal balance of flavor and fat 

We used a food processor to make our sausages in the Italian style. We did this by combining salt pork and boneless pork butt. We developed a recipe with consistent fat, flavor, and greasiness by selecting our ingredients. 

4. Apply considerable force to force the meat into the feed tube. 

A food processor can produce uniformly thin, clean slices with minimal effort. To ensure cleanliness, even cuts, don’t be afraid to use some force! If you apply too little pressure, the slicing disc will knock the item over or pull it into the space between the slicer and the food processor lid. 

5. Add baking soda to ground meat to maintain its tenderness and moisture during cooking. 

We discovered that soaking meat in a solution of baking soda and water for 15 minutes before cooking keeps it tender. The sodium bicarbonate raises the pH of the meat, making it more difficult for the proteins to bind. (This is not exclusive to meat ground in a food processor. Learn why meat should be soaked in a baking soda and water solution.) 

6. You can use less panade when grinding meat at home. 

A panade is a mixture of bread and milk to tenderize ground meat dishes. Grinding your own meat at home will be more tender than options available in stores. This is advantageous because a panade, while essential for maintaining tenderness and binding dishes such as crab cakes and burgers, can also dull a dish’s flavor. 

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