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View Full Version : How do I make my ground beef "finer"?


aerodave
11-18-2006, 06:03 PM
Finer as in texture.

Any time I have to brown some ground beef for use in things like Mexican or lasagna, I would prefer to have it reduced to very small pieces. The filling of an enchilada, for example, ought to be a smooth mixture with finely crumbled meat. Like, say, the size of rice grains. But ground beef just seems to have too much cohesion. As much as I smash and divide with my spatula, there's a minimum practical size for those pieces of meat. We'll call it "Hamburger-Helper size"...more like the size of Cheerios than rice.

So what's the trick? Or is it maybe a good sign that my stuff doesn't come out looking like the mush at Taco Bell?

lissener
11-18-2006, 06:12 PM
Spatula? What on earth would make you think that a spatula would be the tool for further dividing pieces of meat into smaller pieces of meat? You need a frying fork. Aluminum, available in your grocery store's kitchen utensil aisle. Looks like a giant, well, fork. Four tines, each one a downward poiting triangle in cross section, giving you four cutting motions with each downward stroke. There is no other tool for browning ground meat. I can find no picture on the web, but I've always been able to find one when I need one at the grocery store.

sturmhauke
11-18-2006, 06:12 PM
Personally, I think meat shouldn't have as fine a texture as you seem to like. But if you insist on it, you could try running the ground beef through a food processor before you cook it. Or, if your going to do that anyway, you could skip the ground beef and go with a better cut of meat for more flavor - say, a sirloin or tri-tip.

sturmhauke
11-18-2006, 06:15 PM
You need a frying fork. Aluminum, available in your grocery store's kitchen utensil aisle.
Hmm, I've never heard of such a thing. It sounds like it would be death on a nonstick pan, but then, nonstick pans are less than ideal for browning meat.

GorillaMan
11-18-2006, 06:16 PM
Although I agree with sturmhauke that the meat should be in chunks....take the raw meat, and attack with a chopping knife. Simple as that.

AuntiePam
11-18-2006, 06:26 PM
I like my ground beef extra fine when I'm making tacos and loose meat sammiches.

I don't have a frying fork, but I do have a large fork with wide tines and it does the trick. It works best if the ground beef is fresh, not frozen then thawed, for some reason.

You pretty much have to stir and smoosh continuously until the meat is cooked.

Frylock
11-18-2006, 06:55 PM
I wish to note for the record that the OP did not signify that he believes a spatula is the correct instrument for grinding meat as finely as possible. In fact quite the opposite, the OP signified that he believed some means other than the use of a spatula was called for, and this in fact was the occasion for his posting here.

-FrL-

Chefguy
11-18-2006, 07:06 PM
Food processor. It's what I use when making turkey stuffing with sausage. Cook the meat first, let it cool, then process briefly. A fine mixture indeed. You could probably also use a blender.

Chefguy
11-18-2006, 07:07 PM
Oops, missed sturmhauke's post. But cook the meat first. Otherwise you'll have a mushy mess.

aerodave
11-18-2006, 07:46 PM
Frylock, thanks for getting my intent.

Thanks to everyone for the helpful responses...but I'm especially inclined to attempt anything suggested by someone named Chefguy. =)

Sonia Montdore
11-18-2006, 07:54 PM
Frylock, thanks for getting my intent.

Thanks to everyone for the helpful responses...but I'm especially inclined to attempt anything suggested by someone named Chefguy. =)

IANAC (I am not a chef) but if you don't have a food processor or a meat grinder, you can push raw ground meat through a sieve or a collander that has fine holes. This will give you a fine-textured meat that's suitable for pate. That's what I was taught to do in a cooking course I took in Paris.

Shoeless
11-18-2006, 08:48 PM
I have flat wooden, um... I don't know what you call it, it came in a package of wooden spoons, but it works great for busting up ground beef while it's cooking.

levdrakon
11-18-2006, 09:08 PM
If an even, fine "grade" of ground beef is what I'm after, I usually cook it in the wok (on a lower flame than usual for a wok) and use the two wooden spoons I'd regularly use while stir-frying to stir and mix it around. Using two hands helps break it all up. Plus, maybe adding some water to it while browning it and letting the water gradually cook off while stirring it. Seems to help create a more even slurry. Actually, you probably don't need to use a wok. Just stirring with both hands does the trick.

Putting it through a blender never occurred to me. That doesn't turn it into meat slush?

YWalker
11-18-2006, 10:15 PM
My granny's hot dog chili recipe has very fine ground beef in it. To achieve this, she would smoosh the raw hamburger in some warm water between her fingers before cooking. Since your meat then has a high water content, it is better for an application like chili where it's okay to simmer it directly and skip the browning step when you saute it.

You have to drain the grease off the liquid, and it helps to use a lower fat content ground beef to do this. You also lose off on the browning effect that you get in sauteing. That's fine for the chili, but may not work as well for you in other dishes.

Chefguy
11-18-2006, 10:27 PM
Putting it through a blender never occurred to me. That doesn't turn it into meat slush?

If it's raw, it will become sausage. Cooked, it's fine; one just has to be careful not to turn on the blender and walk away. Pulse is your friend.

The other methods mentioned here are fine, as well.

Lissa
11-18-2006, 10:40 PM
I like my ground beef extra fine when I'm making tacos and loose meat sammiches.

I have the same preference, but what I do is stand there and chop it with a wooden spatula while it's frying. By the time the meat is done, it's in very tiny pieces. (BB sized.)

Malienation
11-18-2006, 11:49 PM
Simple. Grind your own beef (much easier and cheaper than it sounds) with a meat grinder and run it through multiple times. The Washington Post food section did an article a couple of years ago and mentioned that the taste difference between freshly ground beef and the ground beef that you buy in the supermarket was very conspicuous. BTW, you don't necessarily need an electric one; the hand ones are less work than you would think, and can be thrown in the dishwasher. For that matter, so can the meat grinder attachment for a KitchenAid mixer.

Gorgonzola
11-19-2006, 12:10 AM
A good butcher should be able to help you in this regard. The butcher I frequent makes a finely ground beef with a very low fat content that browns rice-sized or smaller with very little effort on my part. He's good-looking, too. The butcher. Just so you can feel a little pang of envy.

devilsknew
11-19-2006, 12:15 AM
My granny's hot dog chili recipe has very fine ground beef in it. To achieve this, she would smoosh the raw hamburger in some warm water between her fingers before cooking. Since your meat then has a high water content, it is better for an application like chili where it's okay to simmer it directly and skip the browning step when you saute it.

You have to drain the grease off the liquid, and it helps to use a lower fat content ground beef to do this. You also lose off on the browning effect that you get in sauteing. That's fine for the chili, but may not work as well for you in other dishes.


I've seen recipes for our local, greek style, coney sauces that use a similar method-- however, the utensil of choice is a potato masher. So, I would suggest a simple potato masher...although the mashing action might not be good for your non-stick pans

WhyNot
11-19-2006, 12:17 AM
Does anyone know of a different name for the utensil lissener is talking about? Frying fork doesn't google anything useful. I've never heard of it, and all I can picture is a carving fork, but that can't be it.

I don't want my meat as fine as the OP, but I do get an achy shoulder smooshing the meat around with a wooden spoon for sloppy joes or red gravy. What he describes sounds like what I might be looking for.

lissener
11-19-2006, 01:45 AM
Does anyone know of a different name for the utensil lissener is talking about? Frying fork doesn't google anything useful. I've never heard of it, and all I can picture is a carving fork, but that can't be it.

I don't want my meat as fine as the OP, but I do get an achy shoulder smooshing the meat around with a wooden spoon for sloppy joes or red gravy. What he describes sounds like what I might be looking for.
Next time you're at a grocery store, find the aisle were they hang the tea strainers and cheese graters. Somewhere among all the shiny things will be a Hagrid-sized fork. Cheap, like under $5. Utterly invaluable kitchen tool. It's the only thing for stir frying in an iron frypan, for scrambling eggs, for fluffing potatoes; works well as a poor man's wire whisk, and of course I promise you will never use anything else for browning ground meat.

aruvqan
11-19-2006, 08:24 AM
Well, a very large mortar and pestle are great for reducing raw meat to a fine pulp that will cook up sort of like a good liverwurst texture [you know, no really distinguishable grain to it] or mulltiple runs through a hand cranked meat grinder.

Another suggestion is to cook and crumble the meat, then add water and recook it until the water evaporates off. This isnt bad, but is time consuming ... but oddly enough you can regrind cooked meat.

For the pastelike meat for enchiladas you need to request meat paste from the grinder [2x through the extra fine blades] or pound the raw meat in a mortar and pestle. This will leave it with no discernable 'grain' which seems to be what you are asking for.

Personally, for enchiladas, we follow this tamale recipe (http://pepperfool.com/recipe_home.html) for cooking the meat, and then make regular enchiladas. We love this salsa (http://pepperfool.com/recipe_home.html) along with this traditional pico de gallo (http://pepperfool.com/recipes/salsa/traditional.html)

i think we need to go shopping, and make this next saturday!

Cheesesteak
11-19-2006, 08:56 AM
Lissener, could it also be called a blending fork (http://froogle.google.com/froogle_cluster?q=blending+fork&btnG=Search&lmode=online&oid=2736250161671577084)?

For me, I'd always just mash the meat up while cooking with a wooden spatula.

CBEscapee
11-19-2006, 09:19 AM
When you buy your ground beef ask the store buther to double grind it then you don't have to mess with it in the skillet.

sj2
11-20-2006, 12:19 AM
I use the whip-stick for my ravioli filling--it must be super fine else the dough will tear. If it is tacos or such, I will slap the whisk attachment on my KitchenAid and blend it to my will.

BrainGlutton
11-20-2006, 12:45 AM
Never mind a "frying fork," you need a meat grinder. You can get a hand-cranked one at many kitchenware stores; and there are meat-grinder attachments to many food processors and/or mixers. If it's still not fine enough, even using the plate with the smallest holes -- run it through the grinder twice.

lissener
11-20-2006, 02:56 AM
Lissener, could it also be called a blending fork (http://froogle.google.com/froogle_cluster?q=blending+fork&btnG=Search&lmode=online&oid=2736250161671577084)?

For me, I'd always just mash the meat up while cooking with a wooden spatula.
That is absolutely what it is. My mom used it to brown ground meat, despite its apparent intended usage, and that's what I use it for primarily as well. It's one of my most essential kitchen tools.

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