A few months ago I blogged about buying two new gadgets for the kitchen. The first was a meat cuber/tenderizer and I have used this countless times already. The second has been used just as much, probably more, but without the success of the cuber.
This second gadget — a meat grinder, was purchased so we could take advantage of the great price on pork butts that seems to be an almost weekly occurence lately. Hubby and I researched various options and chose a grinder that was heavy-duty so we could grind the pork to make our own sausage.
The first time we used the grinder we discovered that although heavy-duty and literally “heavy” it would not sit on the counter while we cranked the handle. This led to us using several clamps to hold it firm while we worked. Next we found that the grinding plate with the smallest holes continually got jammed with fat when we tried using it. I read up on it online and found that putting the meat in the freezer for 45 minutes or more would make the process of going through the grinding plate easier.
I cut up the meat, put it in a pan, and tucked it in the freezer for an hour. When we fed the partially frozen meat into the grinder, it was better, but still not very good. The meat still jammed and we were getting quite frustrated.
In order for us to grind the meat, we had to use the grinding plate with the larger holes. We did this and the grinding process went much easier. When we used the meat in burgers that night however, I was not happy with the texture of it. It was chunkier than I like and still had a good amount of grizzle that had not been ground up.
Because of all the trouble we had with the grinder, it became more of a thorn in my side than an asset. I didn’t want to use it. I didn’t want to make more work for myself. The purpose of the grinder was to save us money on buying ground pork, but in the process what I had really done was make a lot more work for myself.
After letting the grinder sit for about a month, I finally recovered from the initial disappointment of our purchase and decided to suck it up and try again.
First I cut all the fat off the pork butt I planned on grinding. Next I cut all the meat into 2 or 3 inch pieces and placed them in a bowl with the fat. After an hour in the freezer I was ready to start grinding. With the large hole grinding plate in place I began to slowly feed the pork into the grinder. The meat slowly eased through the machine and produced a coarsely ground meat. Once all the meat was done I began feeding the frozen fat through the machine. Fat is a necessary component of sausage, so grinding the fat along with the meat is a must. About 3/4 of the way through the fat the machine began to jam. I forced the remaining fat through as best I could then put all the ground meat and fat back into the bowl and returned it to the freezer.
While the meat cooled in the freezer I disassembled the grinder, removed all the unground grizzle and fat, discarded it, and then cleaned the grinder. Once it was clean I reassembled it and removed the cold ground meat and fat from the freezer.
With the clean grinder I began to feed the ground meat and fat through the machine again to grind the meat finer. After all the meat and fat had been fed through for a second time I again disassembled and cleaned the grinder. Then I got out my food processor and began to process the ground product in small batches. This ground the meat fairly fine, removing most chunks of meat and fat that might have gotten by the grinding blades in the grinder.
This procedure of grinding twice and then processing with the food processor worked! I made pork burgers one night and moussaka another with the ground product and everyone agreed it was as fine as ground pork from the store, but far tastier. Success!
With the grinding process down, I decided to set to work on a recipe for homemade breakfast sausage. After several attempts, this afternoon Grace confirmed that the recipe I ended up with is a keeper.
Homemade Breakfast Sausage
8 lbs. Freshly Ground Pork Butt
3 Tbsp. Salt
3 tsp. White Pepper
6 tsp. Rubbed Sage
3/4 tsp. Ground Ginger
2 1/2 tsp. Nutmeg
3 tsp. Thyme
1 tsp. Dried Rosemary
12 Ounces Ice Water
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.
I made small patties of the mixed sausage and fried them in a pan.
I purchased a pork butt this morning for $1.19 a pound – 10 pounds. After trimming, removing the bone, and grinding the meat we ended up with 8 pounds of meat. I used all of this for the sausage and now we have four bags with two pounds each in the freezer. It works out to be less than 1/3 the cost of what breakfast sausage costs in the stores.
Although the process of grinding my own pork is not as easy as I first thought it would be, now that I have a procedure to work with the task isn’t as daunting. I don’t mind having to do a little work to save some money and produce ground meat that I believe is of a higher quality than can be bought at a grocery store. With fresh breakfast sausage ready for cooking in the freezer, my next task will be to test recipes for Polish sausage and begin learning how to stuff sausage in casings.
New gadgets are great, most of the time, especially when I finally get them to work the way I need them to, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.