I quit buying ground beef quite a while ago. As much weird stuff as I'm willing to eat (or at least try), the idea of the parts of thousands of animals going into one big vat, being ground up, then ending up on our kitchen table leaves me feeling oogy. Until we can get a Dexter (a smallish, hobby farm breed of cattle) of our own, I get cheap cuts at the store (on sale, of course!) and grind them at home. We end up with really lean beef for roughly $1.60 a pound.
I went through the chest freezer a couple weekends back and found several turkey legs we hadn't cooked. (When we grow our own turkeys they are really big, so we part them out like you'd do with larger livestock). The other night I stayed up late and ground up about 10 pounds of meat. Most of it was beef roasts I bought and stuck in the freezer because I am lazy, and some of it was the turkey legs.
I mixed them all together. I like to call it 'burkey'. Hee hee. Get it?
Anyway, I wanted to make some homemade convenience foods, so the next day I made a double batch of meatloaf mix, and turned all of it into meatballs. Some people just buy them at the store. Not me - I have to make my own! At least I know what's in them...even if the main ingredient is a meat I invented. Also, when we make our own convenience foods, it's less costly.
My cousin (Hi, Kat!) sent me this AWESOME little mini scoop. It makes perfect cookies. It also makes it a lot easier to run a meatball factory from a home kitchen. I love that thing! So, here's the stuff: a pan sprayed with nonstick spray, the little scoopie, and a huge bowl of meatloafy goodness:
I just plop scoops onto the pan until it's pretty full of them. They are kind of 'fluffy' and not terribly even. (By the way, if my cousin Kat hasn't sent you a little scoopie, you can pat the mixture out on a pan, make it kinda square, then cut it into even little cubes...then either just bake those or roll them and bake them.)
I'm waaay too picky to let that go, though I'm sure they'd work fine. No, they are called meat balls, not meat fluffs. So I wet my hands a little bit (put a little water in a bowl so you don't have to touch the faucet with raw meat paws over and over)and give them each a quick roll. I also like to put them in tidy rows - I'm such a weirdo sometimes! You can see the tidy meatballs in the back and the fluffs (still in need of rolling) in the front of this pic:
About halfway through, I had to spray another pan with nonstick spray, even though these are big pans. Yike. Anyway, you bake them. I did them at 350 degrees for about a half hour or so. I didn't want them to get dried out, but I did want them a little brown:
As soon as they were cool enough, I took them out of that puddle of strange meat goo (eew! Is that burkey juice?) and put them on a clean baking sheet, upside down. I turned them over because they had a flat side, and I didn't want them to stick. I popped the whole thing in the freezer, froze them solid, then put them in ziploc bags in the deep freeze. Well, all except one bag - we're having spaghetti and meatballs for lunch tomorrow! But, now there are 4 more times I can take out pre-cooked meatballs, pop them in some sauce (sweet and sour, barbecue, marinara, whatever!) and have a quick, easy dinner.
If you're wondering, I got 139 meatballs. There was a bit of 'testing' when they first came out of the oven (they are yummy!), but 137 of them made it into baggies. That is a lot of meatballs!! We are set for a while. Thanks again, Kat, for the little scoopie - it made the work go quickly!!
In addition to the multitude of meatballs, I made 12 quarter pound seasoned hamburgers (burkey mixture, dried onion, worcestershire, salt, pepper, garlic powder). Frozen burgers are so easy to pop onto the grill - they thaw and cook without falling to pieces - woo hoo!
I also froze eight half-pound packs of uncooked meat. I shouldn't need to grind up any meat for a long, long time.
Meat. Lots and lots of Meat. Toldja!