Pros: Easy to use, durable, easy to clean, also a sausage stuffer.
Cons: Dies can rust, not powerful enough for some cuts of meat.
This is a basic consumer/household electric meat grinder. It works by forcing the meat/food through a series of holes. The force is a corkscrew type device in the barrel of the grinder.
How it works.
You have 8 pieces to put together. The motor/body unit, the corkscrew, the metal L tube, the die (it comes with 3), a 3 pronged circular blade, a plastic plunger, a hollow screw cap that holds the die in place, a screw that holds the L-shaped tube in place, and a plastic elongated funnel that goes over the intake hole. You also have a funnel that is used for sausage making; this would be used in place of the dies.
Once assembled, all you do is turn it on and put the meat in to the chute. The meat then travels through the main tube, via the corkscrew device, and is pressed out through the holes in the die. Nothing else to it. There are 3 dies with this unit. A small grind, medium grind, and large triangular hole grind. The first two are for fine and course ground meat. The large one is designed for chili style meats.
There are two buttons on the side. The first is an on off button. The second is a reverse button incase something gets stuck.
Ease of use
It is surprisingly easy to use. I gave my wife a 10 second verbal lesson and I assumed she would need some help with it later on. Well a couple hours later she finished and had a clean unit in the drying rack. She didnt need any additional instructions and basically figured out how to work the unit all on her own. This shows how easy it is to use. I have to say this, I am also very proud of my wife for learning how to cook and learning how to use the kitchen tools I have bought over the past few years. Plus the food she is preparing has been great.
What have I tried
London broil- this is great because of the low fat content (I also use this meat for jerky because of the low fat content). It is also cheap when Stater Bros. has it on sale. But I only use this ground meat in spicy dishes because I think the meat is a little bland.
Sirloin steak- This was great. I do not remember the exact cut but it was cut to be used for the grill. Well I made hamburgers out of it and it tasted just like a steak and it was Soooo good. This is the primary reason I own this unit.
Round steak- I do not like the taste nor do I like the hard fat content. It requires a bit of preparation and descent knife skills to properly cut off all of the fat without wasting a lot of meat. If you do not then the fat gets stuck in the unit and you have to frequently clean it out. I hate using this cut of meat in the grinder.
Cooked Thanksgiving turkey- works perfectly. My wife made croquets (turkey balls) this way.
Pork butt- This is actually pork shoulder and I have no idea why they call it butt. This piece of meat has the perfect fat content for sausage. I have had this meat occasionally clog on me but it is no where near the problems I have with round steak.
Bread- It just mooshes it. If you dry the bread you can use this to make bread crumbs but I am not sure why you would use this machine instead of a rolling pin. Also, in order to get all the meat out of the tube you stuff some bread in the unit to push out the meat.
I still consider myself a novice at this since I have only done it 2 times. The first batch came out a little too spicy and the second batch came out too dry. And I had a little trouble getting into the rhythm of the process, but that will come with time (I just wish I had more time to do things like this.)
In order to stuff sausage you need to get some ground meat, preferably pork butt. Once ground, you add spices to the meat. If you want to test the end product you just take a small bit and cook it on a pan. This is a good idea to make sure you get the taste you want. Then you stuff the ground meat into the unit like you did when you ground the meat in the first place. The only difference is you have a funnel on the end that the moist sausage skins are placed on. Then you just hold on to the sausage skin with on hand and shove meat into the intake end with the other hand. Every few inches you twist the sausage to form a link. It sounds simple but you will have to do this a few times to get the hang of it.
Cleaning can be a bit messy. It definitely does not clean itself. I hand wash and dry the dies because they rust. The electric motor unit just needs a wipe down. The top tray, corkscrew, plunger, screw cap, and mini-blade are all thrown in the dishwasher immediately. I hand wash the main tube and then put it in the dishwasher on the sanitize mode. For people that hate to clean, like me, it is a mild annoyance to clean this unit.
all of the problems I have with this unit stem from it being a home based grinder. So my issues are
-Pieces of meat need to be cut up small.
-it is fairly slow compared to the local butcher shop model. One pound in about one minute. Longer if the unit keeps getting clogged with fat or connective tissue.
-It can not handle connective tissue or hard fat well.
-Dies rust (corrode) if not taken care of properly.
-Does not clean itself nor does it provide a maid as an accessory.
Durability and materials
The unit is housed in plastic and feels a little cheap. I currently do not see a problem with this unit breaking any time soon but it will not like you if you decide to drop it on a hard tile floor.
The core materials are made out of metal and do not have any noticeable wear on them. The metal is of a good quality and I doubt that it will break any time soon.
Motor noise and specs
Motor noise is average. You will need to turn up your radio a couple of decibels but not much. It is nowhere near as loud as most other kitchen appliances and therefore not a major annoyance to your housemates.
Who is this for?
I originally got this because Alton Brown recommended it, and I have no regrets about the purchase. It allows the user greater control over the type and quality of meat you will be serving. If you are having guests over and you want to impress them then buy some nice steaks and grind them. And by buying leaner cuts of meat you can control the amount of fat in your ground beef dishes.
This is a simple household electric grinder. It is easy to put together and use. The product seems durable enough and I have not damaged it as of yet. The product will not allow the user to make massive amounts of ground beef because of the size of the unit and the speed of the motor. But it is sufficient for the needs of the average family. If you want more control over your ground meat then this is the way to go.
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