Posts Tagged meat grinder
First, a confession. As a young child, I was obsessed with meat grinders. My mother made delicious cold pork sandwiches. I was fascinated by the machine she clamped onto the counter top and the aroma and texture of the meat as it was transformed from large chunks to a sort of spreadable delight. She mixed it with finely chopped celery and mayonnaise. So tasty.
Most of all though, I was fascinated by the screw-shaped mechanism that consistently moved meat forward as one turned the handle. I’d ask to be allowed to grind some meat and watched as I turned the handle in slow-motion to observe each chunk travel forward, backward, forward, backward.
My fascination stopped abruptly one day. A guest arrived to visit with my mom and I rushed to show her my latest creative accomplishment. I built all sorts of things with boxes and construction paper. This time, I had built a life-size meat grinder. As I showed it to our guest and saw her puzzled countenance, I realized (even though I could not have been any older than about 8), “What sort of child takes the time to build a cardboard meat grinder?” End of fascination.
You must admit that it is a clever device, combining perpetual motion and direction with a single movement. Someone had to really think about this. It could have been far more complicated. But why on earth did we feel the need to grind meat in the first place?
Legend (not altogether proven to be so) has it that the Mongols sandwiched raw beef between their horse and saddle so that by the time they dismounted the meat would be tender enough to eat as is. Questionable practice if you ask me, but I can see how it might work rather well. Some actually believe this is the precursor to steak tartar and it could be the precursor to the modern-day grill tradition: “Honey, I am off to conquer new territory, how many steaks should I set under the saddle for dinner?”
What is more certain is that the first tenderized (almost ground) meat patty makes its appearance in the port city of Hamburg, Germany and is called “Hamburg steak.” History does not recall whether they used the Mongol tenderizing technique. The buns make their appearance later, possibly right here in America. But let us extend our sojourn on German land for a few moments, since this is indeed the meat grinder‘s homeland. Suddenly I wonder: What came first? The meat grinder or ground meat?
Karl Wilhelm Friedrich Christian Ludwig, Karl Drais for short, was born in Germany in 1785. Drais was an inventor. Amongst is most notable inventions, the precursor to the two-wheel bicycle, a stenotype machine, a typewriter and a railroad handcart deserve mention, as does the meat grinder. In fact, the meat grinder’s basic operation and design have hardly changed since then. Incidentally, this Saturday is Drais’ birthday.
Essentially, the meat grinder‘s mechanism forces meat through sharpened blades. It would seem we could accomplish this simply by pushing the meat through a grid of blades, over and over. Perhaps this was an initial trial for Drais. But his other inventions provide a clue as to his thought process: He understood the dynamics of the turning mechanism and motion.
However, Drais early bicycle lacked an important feature. It did not have pedals. It was operated by foot. So while our friend Drais cleverly adapted a horizontal screw conveyor to the task of grinding meat, it did not occur to him to use a conveyor belt (chain) system to propel his bicycle. Could the meat grinder mechanism have been a fluke? Also, his typewriter featured only 25 keys. Are you thinking what I am thinking? Could the inventor of the meat grinder have been the sort of person who begins a project and quits before completion? Could the meat grinder be an incomplete version of a greater plan? Could it be an accident? We will never know.
As for the ground meat we shape into patties and serve between two buns, its story leads to questions as well. No less than three different establishments claim to have served the first hamburger.
1885, Hamburg Fair, Hamburg, New York: The Menches Brothers claim to have served the first hamburger at this fair when they ran out of sausage and had to get creative. The same year, Charles Nagreen (a.k.a. “Hamburger Charlie”), a fifteen-year-old boy who sold meatballs at the Summer Fair in Seymour, Wisconsin, decided he needed a new approach when he realized his meatballs were not selling very well. He smashed the meatballs between slices of bread and voilà! Finally, 1900, Louis’ Lunch, New Haven, Connecticut. The owner of the establishment claims he spontaneously sandwiched a broiled beef patty between two slices of bread when a man ran in requesting a meal he could eat on the run.
If cats and dogs were meant to eat canned food, their paws would be designed to handle a can opener, I used to joke. The convenience of commercial pet food easily makes us forget that their natural diet consists primarily in small rodents and birds caught at the time they are foraging for food. This means they contain fresh plants and grains. Not all commercial foods are created equal. Many are just plain convenient.
A veterinarian I used to know, who specialized in a holistic approach at the time when this was an emerging practice, often explained to his patients’ human guardians how many of the typical ailments experienced by their pets were due to inadequate nutrition. Almost inevitably, the animal would be cured not through the administration of medication, but simply with the substitution of a higher quality food. This does not mean you have to make your pets’ food. Wholesome commercial foods do exist, but home-made pet food is an option I have adopted with great success. I thought I would share it with you.
I began making my own pet food when one of my cats was diagnosed with diabetes. At that time, I was told that diabetic cats typically live a couple of years beyond onset. I immediately started searching for lifestyle changes I could implement for my little girl. Switching to a home-made diet was my first step. Within months, we reduced her insulin by 1/3. She was 9 years old and lived to be 19. I have since continued to feed my pets a home-made diet, along with a high quality kibble.
This recipe makes enough stew for two cats or two small dogs (cat-size) or one of each. It makes enough moist food for both pets, for two meals a day, for about 14 days. I make a batch every other week. I do this in two steps, but the overall time I actually spend on this is about an hour. The recipe is inspired from veterinary-approved recipes I have adapted over time. The addition of a high-quality kibble is essential for oral health and pet-specific vitamins and nutrients.
6 lbs chicken, including bones (a whole chicken is best because it includes organ meats)
1 medium sweet potato, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
3 large carrots, chopped
1 red apple, chopped
1 cup finely chopped parsley
1 cup rolled oats (instant or traditional)
Step 1 – In the morning
Skin the chicken, to reduce fat content. It does not have to be perfectly skinned. Place in baking dish (with organ meets inside the cavity if it is a full bird) with about a 1/2 inch of water. Bake at 350° for 2 hours (20 minutes per pound). When chicken is ready, pour juices out into a container and place in the refrigerator. This will cause fat to solidify on the surface so it is easy to remove by the time you need the broth in the course of step 2. Allow chicken to cool. Refrigerate.
Step 2 – In the afternoon
Place a steaming basket in a saucepan that is large enough so that the basket fully opens inside. Add water until it barely reaches the bottom of the basket. Add sweet potato and celery. Steam until very soft, about 10 minutes.
While the potato and celery are steaming, finely chop the apple and carrot in a food chopper (I actually use my meat grinder for this). Set aside.
When steamed vegetables are ready, pour the juices over rolled oats in a large mixing bowl.
Retrieve chicken broth from the refrigerator. Scoop off the fat from the surface and pour broth gel into the oat mixture. Mix well. Thoroughly mash the steamed vegetables or put them through a food mill or Squeezo Strainer. If using a strainer or food mill, do not discard any part of the processed vegetables. Use everything. Add to oat mixture. Add parsley, chopped apple and carrot. Mix well.
By now, chicken is cool enough to handle. Remove the meat from the bone and put through a meat grinder, including organ meat. Be very careful to not include small bone parts. Add ground chicken to the vegetable mixture and mix thoroughly by squeezing through your fingers. This allows you to detect small bones, just in case.
Fill freezer-safe containers with 18 ounces of the mixture if you are feeding 2 pets or 9 ounces for just one. You will end up with 5 or 6 containers and perhaps some leftover. I use canning jars, not plastic. I serve the leftover as a treat, right there and then, including the bowl and saucepan to lick. Yes, my little ones are spoiled.
Refrigerate 1 container. Freeze the others.
Serve 1.5 once for breakfast and the same amount for dinner, accompanied by 1/2 the recommended amount of a high quality dry food. I like to serve the soft food first, then the hard food to clean the teeth.
One 18 once portion will feed 2 pets morning and evening for three days. One 9-once portion feeds 1 pet morning and evening for 3 days.
Pull a frozen portion from the freezer and place it in the refrigerator every time you have served the second day’s worth of food from the previous portion.
I have yet to meet a pet who will not readily switch to this diet. It also makes excellent chicken patties for human consumption. Just add an egg to the mixture in this case, to obtain proper consistency to form patties.
This also adds bulk to your freezer, making it more energy-efficient! Total cost for two pets: under $15 every two weeks. Granny likes the frugal approach!