If you have a mixer or a food processor, you can grind your own beef. A few years ago I read a Mark Bittman article in the NY Times. He detailed some of the reasons to grind your own beef, predominantly for taste & flavor. But these days we also grind our own to avoid serious food-born illnesses like E. coli, as Michael Moss detailed in his 2009 NY Times article. I'm not writing to inform you of the dangers of the meat & agriculture industry, Michael Pollan, Marion Nestlé & Mark Bittman have that covered. I'm writing about just how easy and afforable it is.
First - what machinery do you have? I have a KitchenAid mixer & a food processor. I prefer to use the mixer because I have a meat grinding attachment. Some companies make electric meat grinders but since I have the KitchenAid motor, I went with the grinder attachment that's efficient and dishwasher safe!
Alternatively, you can do this in a food processor too. It just takes a bit of extra work. Check out Bittman's article for the food processor steps, basically you have to cut your meat smaller and put it in the freezer it for 30-40 minutes before processing it. You're also limited in the amount of meat you can do per batch.
Second - which cut of beef to buy? We buy and mix brisket, tri-tip, short ribs and sometimes ribeye. You're looking for textured meat with lots of fat marbled throughout. Now. - if your cut of meat is particularly fatty, cut the fat away and grind it on its own a few times before the rest of the meat.
Third - where do I buy it? I get my cuts from local vendors like TLV Tree Farm, Treuth's, and Roseda. Visit your farmers markets to find out where your local meat vendors are and buy 5 pounds of their delicious beef. If you're going through the trouble to grind your own, source the meat too!
Fourth - how do I grind it? - read the instructions for your meat grinder & follow them! - set up your station. You need a few stainless steel bowls, paper towels, a good knife, cutting board, and a place for the final product, I use parchment paper and freezer bags. - get the mixer & grinder attachment in place, as well as the bowl at the grinder exit - this might be a bit messy, so cover stuff with paper towels, or move it out of the way - cut your meat into pieces that I'll fit into your grinder, 2 inches or so - process the meat, we do it a second time to ensure there's no gristle-texture - make into patties, seperate each one with a sheet of parchment, then into a freezer bag - I also save a pound or so for meat-sauce, spaghetti and meat-sauce is my 4 year old's passion - your meat will keep for a few months, we try to grind every 2-3 months so things don't get lost in the freezer.
And this is the end result of my recent grinding adventure. This burger transports me to In & Out the second I dig in. Now that's what a hamburger is all about!