It's summertime and, as I've already said, that's grilling season. One grilled food we enjoy, being Americans and all, is a good hamburger. We don't buy meat that's been ground in some factory. We buy whole cuts of beef (or veal, or turkey) and grind it ourselves to make 'burgers. When we first came to live here, I wanted to make a Greek moussaka using ground lamb. Nobody sells it, it turns out. We had to grind it ourselves at home...
I was making a ground beef filling for zucchini "boats" with some of this beef...
A few weeks ago, I went to the supermarket for the first time since March and actually went inside to shop. I went because the Super U market in Saint-Aignan advertised a special on the cut of beef called basse-côte. I think it would be called chuck steak in the U.S. In terms of value and taste, it's the best cut of beef we've found for grinding and making hamburgers and meat sauces. Often, fresh meat that hasn't been industrially pre-processed and pre-packaged in a factory somewhere is not available for on-line ordering and pick-up from the supermarkets. You have to go into the store to buy it.
Beef sliced up and ready for the grinder
We have a KitchenAid stand mixer with a meat-grinder attachment that we use to process beefsteak into hamburger meat. We've had it and used it for 25 or 30 years. We brought it to France when we moved here in 2003. I'm so glad we did. One reason is that while you can buy industrially made ground beef here in France as well as "ground to order" beef in butcher shops, you really pay a premium for it. And you can't buy ground lamb or veal, for example, as far as I know.
Hamburger patties ready for the freezer
A week or two ago Walt bought some ground beef in a butcher's shop in Saint-Aignan just to see what it would cost and whether it would be good. It cost something like 18 euros per kilogram. And it was too finely ground; the resulting grilled hamburger had a mushy texture. The basse-côte à griller that I got at Super U cost just 7.90 euros per kilogram — half the price. And we can grind it coarsely enough with the KitchenAid attachment that the burgers have a much more pleasing, meaty "bite" to them.
We also make our own hamburger buns, as you might remember. There's a post about them here, including photos and a recipe. It's nice to be retired and to have time to do all the work we do in the kitchen.
Here in Piraeus, you choose your meat and the butcher will grind it for you. No extra cost as far as i can see. I've zlways used lamb for moussaka but my local butcher wouldn't have a bar of that - insisted it should be beef. I guess it depends where He came from and what animals they traditionally had in that part of the country.ReplyDelete
I've made moussaka with lamb or with beef, but I think I prefer lamb. Years ago, I told a local butcher I wanted to make moussaka and asked him if he could sell me ground lamb. He said no, only beef. If he ground lamb in the machine he'd have to take the whole thing apart and wash it before he could use it again, and he didn't want to do that. Anyway, we have a meat grinder so I bought lamb pieces and ground it myself. I've seen pre-packaged ground turkey a time or two in supermarkets, but not often. In Greece, can you get meats other than beef ground by your butcher?ReplyDelete
Clever to buy the pieces and use the grinder. It's one step less processed by someone else and apparently less costly. Here in CA, there's probably as much ground turkey as ground beef.ReplyDelete
In SF we used to get ground beef, turkey, chicken, or lamb in our neighborhood supermarkets. I think we got the meat grinder attachment for the KitchenAid stand mixer because I wanted to grind pork and maybe duck to make sausage.Delete
I just checked the on-line shopping web site of the Safeway that was the closest to our house in SF. They advertise half a dozen brands of ground (minced) turkey meat, and also ground chicken, ground lamb, and ground pork. So much choice...Delete
I'll have to look for some of those other choices at our local market. Especially the lamb and chicken (wasn't even aware that was a thing!)Delete
I remember, when I was really little, that my mom used a manual meat grinder -- made of heavy iron, the type you clamped onto the edge of the table, and cranked. But, she only used it to grind up ham or bologna to make a kind of meat and pepper salad. My dad loved it :)ReplyDelete
I had one of those too.Delete
Good looking burgers, Ken!ReplyDelete
I stopped buying "factory" ground beef many years ago. While I do have a grinder attachment, there are also some local farms that sell fresh ground beef at certain shops. One in particular is so good that I pretty much won't make hamburgers unless I can get their meat. There is no way I could make better ground beef than theirs, unless maybe if I bought that farm's own beef and ground it myself. But I don't see any need to do that.ReplyDelete
If you can buy good, safe ground beef that way, that's good. We tried the butcher's ground beef here, but we weren't thrilled with it. When I lived in Paris years ago, I always bought ground beef from butchers who ground it to order. One of my specialties back then was ground beefsteak au poivre, with a cream and cognac sauce. Delicious. Here in Saint-Aignan I once made meatballs bourguignons, with lardons and mushrooms, cooked in a red wine sauce. That was good too. And then there's spaghetti and meatballs...Delete
So many recipes...so little time! I am so glad you have chosen to share your fascination with cooking and creating with us, Ken!Delete
Mary in Oregon
Chef Ken and Chef Walt! That is how I think I will call you when I relate what I've learned in your blog posts in the future! My mother had one of those same grinders, Judith, and now I have it! I haven't used it in eons...but my mother and grandmother used grinders frequently. I'm only remembering hash, but there must have been other recipes as well. I don't ever remember grinding cuts of beef for hamburger meat, but that is a little fuzzy! Your burgers look absolutely fabulous! My parents often bought 1/4 of a beef already divided up to her requirements for our little family of 3 and then we rented a drawer in a local butcher shop's freezer by the year. I did that once when I moved back to my hometown with my little family of 3! There was now only 1 place I found that would rent me a "drawer" and it was a long distance from my home (probably 15 miles one way). We only did that once. Is your Kitchen Aid grinder easy to clean and maintain? I have the mixer and I have not felt comfortable purchasing ground meat for some time, but I certainly could buy some local meat from farmers here in town and grind my own. You are an inspiration, Ken! Now, to find the grinder and work that into my budget!ReplyDelete
Mary in Oregon
Th grinder attachment for the mixer is very easy to clean, either in the dishwasher or by hand in the sink.Delete
The rental of a "drawer" is fascinating. I didn't even know such a concept existed. We have several butchers here, but I don't know if anyone would even know what I was talking about if I asked about renting a "drawer."Delete
Check it out, Bob! The drawer would hold almost the entire 1/4 of a beef, I'm sure my Mother had taken several packages out but at that time we did not have a "double-door refrigerator/freezer and only that small section on top! I don't recall what I did, perhaps there was room enough in the "drawer". Originally, the freezer section was shared with a specialty butcher who only sold locally-raised beef and pork from Oregon farmers but also rented out space to a bakery that was also located in a large commercial space that also included a bistro/restaurant! The bakery is now relocated to a specialty/local large grocery chain: Market of Choice who specializes in organic and local farm-grown products and the butcher has relocated to a high-end strip mall and perhaps I could still rent some space there, but I will not be purchasing meat products in that kind of quantity now. Good luck! If you can find one conveniently located it can be a lifesaver!Delete
Mary in Oregon
Mary, we don't buy meat in large enough quantities to need something like a drawer. Years ago we bought a modest-sized chest freezer because we were buying a whole lamb every year. Compared to beef cattle (even 1/4 of one), a lamb is pretty small. We stopped buying whole lambs several years ago, and now buy individual cuts of lamb, as well as beef and pork, from several local farms.Delete
Even so, Bob, I have a french friend here in town who also wanted good lamb meat and he and another of my pétanque friends shared the lamb and they each rented space in a frozen food storage. I am anxious to have my upright freezer again, which will happen when I complete some remodeling planned for next spring.Delete
Mary in Oregon
Mary and Bob, I'd never before heard of the possibility of renting a freezer drawer before you wrote about this. We are lucky to have two freezers in our downstairs utility room. One, a chest freezer, was a gift from my mother in 2005, and it just keeps on going. The other is an upright freezer that we bought three or four years ago because we weren't sure how long the chest freezer was going to last before finally giving out. So far, neither freezer is completely full (!) but it's a struggle to keep them that way.Delete
I may still have one of those iron grinders like Seine Judeet's. They were heavy and clunky, and now seem like the ultimate in energy efficiency.ReplyDelete
But how is it that your American Kitchen Aid machine works in France, with the different electricity? An adapter, or did you have it rewired? The burgers look delish!!
When we got to France in 2003, we had several appliances — the KitchenAid stand mixer was one of them. For about sixty euros, I bought a transformer to convert the 220V electicity here to 110V so that we could use them here. The only 110V appliance we still have is the mixer. I had a heavy old hand-operated meat grinder in California, and I actually bought one here at some point, but I didn't keep it. The electric grinder is so much more convenient to use.Delete