No super market or big box store ground beef will ever taste as good as fresh meat that you have seasoned and ground for your own needs.
Why Make your own Ground Beef?
The reasons behind grinding your own beef are numerous, and I will get into them in a later post. My favorite reason? Good old fashioned stress relief. And grinding your own meat allows you to season it the way you want for your future cooks. You can control your fat ratio and what cuts go into the grind to produce signature blends that taste amazing.
I make an afternoon out of butchering, seasoning, and grinding large batches of beef for various meals and freezing them in perfect portions so that when I need them all I need to do is thaw.
Tips for grinding your own beef
Make sure your meat and the equipment is very cold. I place everything in the freezer for 20 minutes before grinding. As the meat warms so does the fat and this can make things messy in the grinder. And it doesn’t grind as well overall, rather smearing. The colder things are the better the actual grind will be.
Work in batches. If you are using a home grinder, a KitchenAid attachment or anything short of a full-on butcher counter grinder, you are going to WORK the machine and yourself. So, divide things and work in batches (see above note about keeping things cold). If you are turning a crank to grind, you will thank me later.
Also, working in batches allows me to think about how I am going to use the meat. I can do taco seasoning in one batch, burger blend in another, so on and so forth. By batching things out, and properly cleaning and returning everything to chill, I am in more control of my workflow.
Follow the recipe below for a great burger night, or change things up a bit for Taco Tuesday, Mama’s meatloaf or any other meaty recipe your family loves.
What is the best meat to grind for burgers?
Welp, that’s a personal question. I like my burgers on the fatty side, cuz as I say, fat equals flavor. I love looking to mix things like a well-marbled chuck with a leaner cut, and maybe even a bit of brisket or short rib too.
There’s a bit of math you want to do when picking your cuts, based on how lean you want the finished product. And, since each cut is going to have different marbeling, you need to eyeball the fat to beef ratio. Start with simple inexpensive cuts, tossing a little extra fat in where you can, to get a feel for it before going out and placing an order for 2 pounds brisket, 5 pounds chuck and thinking you are going to master it in a day.
Honestly, I also save scraps and will fold them into my blends as well. Texture and fat go a long way for a good overall blend.
Getting Good Beef Doesn’t Have To Be A Grind
If you aren’t a proud card-carrying union member in good standing professional butcher, chances are you may not know one specialty cut from the next. Sure, you know filet mignon costs a lot more than that package of chuck stew meat. But knowing the basic cuts and what to expect from each helps when you get to the meat counter and start staring at the beef wondering what works best.
Because you don’t ever want to get caught staring too long at the beef. People will look at you weird. And we can’t have that.
So one way to go is just bellying up to the meat counter and asking the butcher. If you are the type that doesn’t like to ask questions and hate appearing uninformed, then you are doomed.
You can either decide then and there to become a vegetarian… Or, you can get yourself up to speed on the various cuts. Go this route and soon you even the butchers will be paying respect.
From Cheeks To Ox Tails
If you love beef like a true carnivore, then time to celebrate the entire banquet of flavors and textures it offers.
So, let’s start with the tongue and cheeks. Tongue has relatively high fat content so it is rich, and it also has a texture that is closer to bologna when it is cooked than, say, a stringy cut like flank steak which comes from the belly. Cheeks are full of marbling and super flavorful as well as being pretty tender.
Also, since beef cheeks are less popular cuts oftentimes you can get them for a decent price and when you find them, they are a perfect cut for braising.
Generally speaking, the farther the cut is from “the hoof and horn” the more tender it is. Tenderness is related to the amount of fat content as well as the length of muscle fibers. Neck meat, legs, shoulders, and belly meat are tougher cuts. Meat around the ribs is more tender.
Filet mignon, for example, is the strip of tenderloin meat under the ribs. Filet mignon doesn’t actually have high-fat content, but it is tender due to the shorter muscle fibers. However, it’s not my pick for a good burger combo.
Whereas brisket might have longer muscle fibers, but it also has a higher fat content. So that is what makes brisket ideal for pastrami, which is essentially beef bacon. And often a great addition to ground mixes due to the high fat! Remember, fat equals flavor.
Where’s The Beef?
Here is a summary of the various cuts and where they come from:
- Chuck – The neck meat is fairly lean and generally used for stew meat or roasts but it grinds well and has a decent balance of fat content, like 85%/15%.
- Brisket – Most people think of brisket for corned beef or pastrami but depending on where it comes, the lower part of the neck or chest, it can be very lean or decently marbled. It works well for a coarser grind like you might use for chili.
- Shank – Shanks come from the lower end of the leg. They aren’t ideal for grinding since they tend to be more bone than meat.
- Rib – Take a guess where rib cuts come from… Rib meat has great fat content and the cuts around the rib include rib steaks and flank. So don’t limit yourself to thinking rib cuts only involve big bones.
- Plate – The plate is the lower midsection of the cow. The plate cuts are favored for pastrami. So think of them as the fattier end of a brisket. Plate cuts work great for burgers since they have higher fat content. (75%/25%)
- Short loin – If the word “loin” is involved then expect tons of flavor but also higher price. Short loin is where the T-Bone, Porterhouse, and flank are cut from. When you want a burger like you would find in a place that charges more than most people make in a week for a meal, then this is the way to go.
- Flank – The flank also describes the lower end of the belly. It is juicy and flavorful and works great for grinding. Cuts from the flank include London Broil, flank steak, and skirt steak. Flank cuts are that happy place between reasonable cost, decent fat content, and flavorful meat.
- Sirloin – Sirloin falls into four main sections. Top, bottom, tender, and regular sirloin.
- Tenderloin – This is the muscle underneath the rib cage and it is actually fairly lean. You can do a grind with it but make sure to add some fat content. If necessary, you can get a fatty cut of pork and use the pork fat to compensate for the lack of fat in the tenderloin.
- Top Sirloin – If you see cuts like “dinner butt”, “finger steak”, or “dinner steak” these are all top sirloin cuts. A lot of flavor and good fat content and great for grinding. I often add one to my mix if I want to stretch the batches out for a good value.
- Bottom Sirloin – The best known cut from the bottom sirloin is Tri-Tip. Bottom sirloin also works great for grinding.
- Round – The butt of the cow. Big and lean and usually used for stew meat. It is great for grinding but you will need to add fat content unless you like really lean burgers. No really, add some fat.
Another Beef Tip
Don’t get “primal cuts” confused with “prime cuts”. Primal cuts refer to the initial cuts made to separate all the different sections of the beef into their respective quarters. Prime is a grade and it indicates a level of quality. USDA Prime means the beef quality has been graded at a specific level of quality in terms of the meat and the marbling of fat in it.
Sure, it’s a little hands-on, a little bit messy, but that’s what Girl Carnivore is all about. Rolling up the sleeves and getting hands-on. Wait till we get to sausage making. Then we can have a session on what casings smell like when you first open the package. But as far as making your own ground beef – it’s easy-peasy.
Oh, just don’t push too hard when feeding meat through the tube or you will be wiping ground beef splatter off your fridge later on.
Now that you have mastered grinding your own beef, it’s time to step up your burger game. Try these out for inspiration, then check out Burger Month and come up with an Epic Burger of your own!
Argentinian Chimichurri Butter Burger
Caribbean-Jerk Lamb Burgers with Tostones
If you’ve tried my How to Grind Perfect Patties recipe, or any other recipe on GirlCarnivore.com please don’t forget to rate the recipe and let me know where you found it in the comments below. I get inspired by your feedback and comments! You can also FOLLOW ME on Instagram @girlcarnivore as well as on Twitter and Facebook.
How to Grind Perfect Patties
- 3 lbs boneless chuck roast with good marbling
- 2 lbs boneless sirloin
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp ground pepper
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp thyme sprigs
- Place meat grinder attachment in freezer.
- Meanwhile, cut the meat into 1″ cubes.
- Please in a bowl and toss with salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and fresh thyme.
- Cover and place in freezer for 20 minutes.
- When ready, push meat through feed tube into meat grinder. Grind through coarse setting once.
- Change out the grinding plate to the fine coarse one and run through again being careful not to over handle the meat.
- Gently form the meat into patties, place wax paper between each, loosely cover, and refrigerate until ready for use.