You might have seen, or heard about, a front-page New York Times story about ground beef, one that definitely raises a few health and safety questions about your standard burger. One solution then, is to grind your own beef.
Photo by VirtualErn.
Of course, no meat is perfect —ground beef (that's minced meat to us Aussies) in particular has a lot of surface area and needs to be closely looked after to hit the right internal temperature while cooking. But buying a whole cut of meat that you know the quality and source of eliminates a vast number of variables that commercial products leave you guessing at.
NY Times food writer Mark Bittman has suggested that if you don't have your own grinder, a standard food processor can do a fine job of meat grinding, if you watch what's happening:
Next, don't overprocess. You want the equivalent of chopped meat, not a meat purée. The finer you grind the meat, the more likely you are to pack it together too tightly, which will make the burger tough.
If you want to delve a bit deeper into the specifics of ground beef issues, a Grocery Guy blog post will indulge your curiosity — just don't read it right before lunch. That said, he brings up a nice halfway compromise to making a mess of your kitchen counter: Get to know your butcher and have him or her grind your meat to order. That post also contains a few more nitty-gritty tips on cuts, seasoning and patty preparation.
Have you long been DIY-ing your burger patties? Got any tips for those of us looking to escape the shrink-wrapped section? Share the wisdom in the comments.
For the Love of a Good Burger [The Minimalist/NYTimes]