1. Ground Meat - Intro

The majority of my ground meat recipes have been included in this chapter, regardless the source animal. A number of recipes in other chapters (mostly soups & sauces) may use ground meat too, but I have provided direct  links to many of those recipes on this page too.

My personal experience with meat—and that goes for ground meat as well— is that the source animal defines the flavor more than anything else. The big difference will be beef vs. veal, pork, lamb, goat, chicken, turkey etc. more than whatever you might add to the meat e.g. onions vs. leek, cabbage etc. Those additions don't change that base flavor. That's why meatballs from the same species all taste pretty much the same to me, regardless of what I put in them.

I have prepared these ground meats: beef, veal (in Belgium, I can't get veal in small-town America,) pork, 50-50 mixed beef & pork, horse, (in Belgium, not in US,) lamb, bison. Game meats are not included because I've never had access to them.  

DIY Ground Meat

Mass-processed ground meat is horrible. Meat from thousands of animals is mixed together and you never know what’s really in it. The one thing you can be sure of is that it is not the best quality meat. Recalls caused by food-borne disease are not even rare anymore and investigations have shown that nearly all store-bought ground meat is contaminated with fecal matter to some extent. Don’t eat that stuff raw. I even say, don’t eat it at all.


I prefer grinding meat at home, especially for raw meat preparations. It isn’t difficult, and it saves me a good deal of money in the long run, especially when I buy those cuts on sale.

You need a good quality grinder to grind your meat at home. (manual $35+ / electric $120 and up). They always come with several grinding plates.

Ground meat freezes very well for cooked dishes. I usually process 10 to 20 lbs. at one time and freeze most of it in 1 lb. packages.  For raw meat preparations, I only use freshly ground meat. Previously frozen meat will be mushy.




Pic1: manual-cranked grinder
Pic2: 1st pass always coarse
Pic3: 2nd pass can be finer (but doesn't have to be)


Pic4: slice & dice the meat
Pic5: 1st pass always coarse
Pic6: 2nd pass can be finer (but doesn't have to be)
  1. Top round is my choice for raw meat preparations. Uncooked fat tastes greasy.
    Chuck roast
    is a good choice for ground eat that will be cooked. It grinds into about 80% meat-20% fat. That fat adds flavor to the meat when cooked because it absorbs many spices. If it is too lean, the cooked ground meat may taste rather bland.
  2. Buy the largest and nicest roasts that you can find.
    The fewer cuts made elsewhere, the better quality control you have.
  3. Wash all equipment in hot soapy water before use and rinse thoroughly.
  4. Assemble and install the grinder according to factory instructions with all the required washers in their correct location.
  5. Slice and dice the meat into pieces that will easily fit into the grinder feed.
    Cut away any visible gristle, because that clogs up the grinder plates.
  6. Use a plunger, spoon or other tool to push the meat into the grinder feeder.
    Do not push your fingers inside the feeder. That’s not a good idea!
  7. Mix in chopped onions, peppers, S&P and any other spices you may want to add. Don’t forget to mark on the package what you added, that you don’t double up on things when cooking the meat.
  8. Package and refrigerate or freeze (preferably vacuum-sealed) the ground meat immediately.


Meatballs - Intro

I prepare meatballs often enough and with enough variations that they received their own heading in the ground meat chapter.  My personal experience with meat—including ground meat—is that the source animal defines the flavor more than anything else. The big difference will be beef vs. veal, pork, lamb, goat, chicken, turkey etc.

Much of those things you mix in meatballs seem to get lost in the cooking, all the more so when boiled. I think that's why all meatballs taste pretty much the same fairly bland to me. That is why I don't spend much energy on trying out different meatball mixes. Do feel free to create your own experiments with things you like though.

The one other factor that imo affects meatball preparations the most comes from the sauce you serve them with. There are literally thousands of different meat sauces. Name one and you can be pretty sure that someone has eaten meatballs with that sauce.


Same-level links

recipe page links