Grinding It Out

Serves: 5



Somewhere in the recesses of my grandmother’s cellar is an ancient hand-crank meat grinder. I am reminded of this because it’s a piece of equipment I saw often on the barbecue trail, and when it comes to grinding meat for burgers and koftas, nothing can beat it (or its motorized cousins).

The reason is simple. Inside the meat grinder is a cross-shaped blade that rotates against a perforated metal plate. Together, they function like a knife on a cutting board. The grinder cleanly chops the meat into tiny pieces, just as a well-wielded knife or cleaver would do.

Hard-core grill buffs may wish to invest in their own motorized or hand-crank meat grinder or a meat grinder attachment for another appliance, such as a KitchenAid mixer.

How different is the food processor, today’s high-tech answer to the meat grinder. A food processor tears and mashes the meat instead of chopping it. The result tends to be mushy and stringy, with a spongy, uneven texture.


If you wish to grind your own meat, and must use a food processor, be sure it’s fitted with a metal chopping blade. First cut the meat into 1/2-inch dice. Do not fill the processor bowl more than one quarter full. Run the machine in short bursts. Following these three simple steps will give you ground meat, not mush

THE fat factor

Two other factors determine the flavor and succulence of your grilled ground meat: the cut of meat and the fat content. In general, you want to use a flavorful cut of meat: shoulder when it comes to pork or lamb chuck, round, or sirloin for beef.

You need a certain amount of fat to keep ground meat succulent. Turks use as much as 30 percent fat in their ground lamb kebabs. This may seem excessive to health-conscious North Americans, but remember that fat carries flavor and it bastes the meat as it cooks (and some of the fat will melt out during cooking). For the recipes in this chapter, I recommend a fat content of 15 to 20 percent to keep ground meat dishes moist and tender.

The fat content of ground beef is usually marked on the package at the supermarket (ground sirloin is leaner than ground round or chuck). When in doubt about fat content, ask your butcher.

By the way, in Turkey, Azerbaijan, and other Near East countries, the preferred fat for making kebabs is lamb tail fat. If you live near a neighborhood with a Muslim butcher, you may be able to buy this flavorful fat.

This Grinding It Out recipe is from the The Barbecue Bible Cookbook. Download this Cookbook today.

More Recipes from the The Barbecue Bible Cookbook:
A Day with Najmieh Batmanglij: The Persian Grill
A Few Shark and Bake Tips
A Griller's Guide to the World's Chiles
A Marinating Tip
A New French Paradox
A Special Word About Ground Meat, Burgers, and Sausages
A Traditional Barbacoa
Aleppo Pepper
Approximate Times for Rotisserie Cooking
Barbecue Alley: The Mexican Grill
Barbecue Countdown
Barbecue from the Land of Morning Calm:
Basmati Rice Five Ways
Beef Grilling Chart *
Black Gold
Bombay Tikka "Taco"
Butterflying a Flank Steak
Cleaning and Oiling the Grill
Cooking Hamburgers
Cooking With a Blowtorch
Cooking with Wood
Fish Grilling Chart*
From Hamburg to Hoboken: A Brief History of the Hambuger
Grate Expectations: Some Tips on Grilling Vegetables
Grating Citrus Peel
Grilled Rujak
Grilling Indoors
Grinding It Out
Ground Meats Grilling Chart
Hawkers' Center
How to Butterfly Pork or Beef
How to Butterfly Short Ribs for Korean-Style Grilling
How to Cut Up a Chicken
How to Dry Fennel Stalks
How to Grill Perfect Chicken
How to Grill Perfect Chicken Halves and Quarters
How to Grill Perfect Fish Fillets
How to Grill Perfect Vegetables Every Time
How to Grill a Whole Grilled Fish
How to Grill the Perfect Fish
How to Grill the Perfect Whole Chiken
How to Grill the Perfect Whole Fish
How to Make Scallion Brushes
How to Peel and Devein Shrimp
How to Skin and Bone Fish Fillets
How to Spatchcock a Chicken or Game Hen
How to Stuff Sausages Like a Pro
How to Unskewer Shish Kebabs
How to grill a perfect steak
How to grill with out a grate
How to make ricw powder
How to prepare fresh coconut
How to rinse and dry Cilantro
How to rinse salad greens
How to toast seeds, nuts, and breadcrumbs
In pursuit of the best Tuscan Steak
Jerk: The Jamaican Barbecue
Lamb Grilling Chart
Larding the Beef
Making crosshatch grill marks
Matambre: A hunger-killer from South America
Mesclun Mix
Of Koftas, Lyulas, and Seekh
On trimming fat from meat
Pit Cooking
Pork Grilling Chart
Pork the Italian Way
Poultry Grilling Chart*
Shellfish Grilling Chart*
Stalking the Elusive Grilled Snail
Stuck on Sate: The Indonesian Grill
The Afghan Grill
The Argentinian Grill
The Birth of the Kettle
The Brazilian Grill
The Four Styles of American Barbecue
The Indian Grill
The Japanese Grill
The Macanese Grill
The Moroccan Grill
The Most Famous Fish House in Indonesia
The Splendid Resaurant Karim
The Tale of Three Barbecues: The Thai Grill
The Ten Commandments of Perfect Grilling
The Turkish Grill
The Vietnamese Grill
To Render Chicken Fat
Types of Charcoal
Uruguay's Mercado Del Puerto
Vegetable Grilling Chart*
What to look for in a Grill
When You’re Feeling Less Than Brave
When to cover the Grill
When to use a Drip Pan
Whole Fish, Tikin Xik Style

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