Now That's a Mouthful

Episode 72: Ground Meat.

Episode: 72: Ground Meat | Getting Creative in the Kitchen.

What you can do in your kitchen with store bought ground meat to take that to a whole new level, AND how to turn other proteins – like fish or shellfish, or even lamb or turkey and pork into ground meats with a food processor or with your stand mixer.

GETTING CREATIVE WITH GROUND MEAT IN YOUR KITCHEN
Ground meat doesn’t necessarily mean just beef or hamburger; consider grinding fish or shellfish. You can grind proteins in their raw or their cooked form. Ground meat(s) can make expensive proteins much more affordable.

YOU NEED some form of ground PROTEIN, some form of BINDER, and some SEASONINGS and FLAVORINGS, which can be as basic as salt and pepper.

BINDERS
Generally take the form of an egg, whether it's a whole egg or and egg white.  In the alternative you can use things like mayonnaise, riced potatoes, or just rice (the starch works to keep the protein together). Regardless of the binder you use you want to keep those ground meats/proteins loose when combined and formed.

EGG AS A BINDER – try our SHRIMP TOAST recipe. Stop after you get all the seasonings combined, form a pattie – and saute them – ta da!!! Instant SHRIMP CAKES!
VEGETABLES AS A BINDER – try our SHRIMP BAN MI recipe. LOBSTER ROLLS – essentially the same thing, only here, you’re using pre-cooked lobster and a condiment like mayonnaise to bind the protein. Try our SHRIMP ROLL RECIPE. |
BREAD CRUMBS AS A BINDER. In our recent BLOGCAST EP 71 on USING UP BREAD SCRAPS we talk about the difference between FRESH FINE bread crumbs and COARSE bread crumbs. Breadcrumbs melt in with the fat.

FLAVORS AND SEASONINGS. Let your palate guide you. You can look at every ethnic cuisine for flavor and seasoning ideas – like the SHRIMP TOAST and BAN MI – or consider things like fresh herbs, like parsley, cilantro, sage, thyme – or even basil and green onions work great., to seasonings and spices like in our MOLASSES GINGER PORK MEAT BALLS, or even our FRIED RICE BALLS (loaded with ground pork), and get their kick from an Asian flavor profile, including a good spritz of lime.  AVOID USING DRY HERBS. They don’t have enough time to rehydrate and become tender in the shorter cooking times for these applications.

GETTING CREATIVE WITH GROUND MEAT RECIPES
An internet search for “cakes” or “meatballs” or “burgers” along with the protein of choice turns up thousands of options. Look for ingredients that sound like a tasty combination – then just back your ground protein of choice in with the same ratios in the recipe.

HANDLING | FORMING YOUR GROUND MEAT
Handle the ground meat as little as possible to avoid a tough, rubbery result.  Our recipes for TURKEY MEATBALLS and CHOPPED STEAK WITH RED WINE SAUCE suggest using 2 forks to gently mix and combine ingredients. Remember with the Chopped Steak recipe to look for GROUND ROUND, not beef or hamburger. Use COLD WET hands to shape your meat, and then just refrigerate or freeze it for 10 to 15 minutes before cooking. The process of freezing helps stabilize the shape when you want to cook it.

RECIPES TO TRY THAT USE GROUND MEAT
MOLASSES AND GINGERED PORK BALLS or TURKEY SCALLION MEATBALLS or CHICKEN  MEATLOAF WITH A PEPPERY GLAZE.  Ground meat is perfect to add to a BIBIMBAP BOWL or NOODLE BOWLS.

USING YOUR FOOD PROCESSOR TO CHOP OR GRIND MEAT
Cube or chop up your protein first. Use a sharp knife and try to keep your cuts uniform to about 1in x 1in then just remember to PULSE NOT PROCESS that meat. When you get to a coarse grind,  stop. What you’ll actually have is more like shredded meat. Fattier cuts of meat, or adding some fat, like chicken skin or fat you’ve trimmed, helps keep moisture in the meat when cooking.

USING YOUR MEAT GRINDER ATTACHMENT FOR STAND MIXER
It's very simple to use, BUT like anything it takes a time or two to feel confident. Same rules apply here as with the food processor: you don't want to over grind the meat. Work with a medium grind disk and include some fat; to evenly distribute the fat and get a better grind, put the meat through the grinder a second time.

WORKING WITH PRE-COOKED PROTEINS | MEAT
The process is virtually the same. Cube or chop it down, then with as few pulses as needed, chop and shred that meat in your food processor.  YOU’LL WANT TO WRAP MOISTURE AND FAT BACK INTO THAT COOKED MEAT, so choose to add shredded cheese or a small fine dice of butter cubes. Then add your seasoning, and then shape. Because this meat has already been cooked the goal is to just allow whatever fat you've added to melt back into the meat, or make sure that whatever binder is in there, especially if eggs – gets cooked.  AND IN THIS CASE, COARSE FRESH BREAD CRUMBS can help bind your meat, provide a bit of moisture, without requiring you to cook it for too long a time.

CHEF DONNA’S ONE THING TO LEARN FROM THIS BLOG|CAST:
Making your own ground meat at home is easier and faster than any trip to the grocery store. You’ll have control over the cut and the quality of the protein that you’re putting into your ground meat as well as the amount of fat, especially if you're using a flavorful fat like cheese… and you’ll DISCOVER A WHOLE NEW WAY TO get tastier more affordable meals onto your table.

Just commit to trying this once – even with the leftovers you bring home from a night out. And we’ll get you the rest of the way there with all the ideas and recipes to get you started. You can find more ideas and recipes on our RECIPES PAGE at nowthatsamouthful.com

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These RECIPES are referred to in this episode. You can find more information on our Cookbooks Page.

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