For Christmas this year, I got treated to a kitchen gadget I’ve had my eye on for ages, but never pulled the trigger on….because I mean, who really needs a meat grinder? I would say this definitely falls on the “want” side of the spectrum rather than the “need,” but it’s still really cool! Plus, as we are seeing more and more news stories about food-born illnesses, my already crunchy-green-locavore-sustainable self is becoming even more cautious about where my food comes from. Especially meat. Even more especially ground meat. I always have to wonder what all is included in ground meat, and what bacteria might be lurking in there. My solution for the past few years has been to purchase my meat from local sources of grassfed beef. For a while, we were able to purchase beef from our CSA. At the time, we were using Eating with the Seasons. They had a deal with Paicines Ranch in Hollister and would deliver the beef in a cooler along with our veggies. This worked pretty well for us, but I found the quality and variety of veggies to be lacking, so we switched to our current CSA- Two Small Farms. They don’t offer meat delivery, but we’ve been very pleased with their veggies, so we’re sticking with them! Next season, starting in March, they are splitting back to their two original farms- Marquita Farms and High Ground Organics. I’m sure we wont be disappointed! Anyway, back to the meat. After Paicines Ranch, we started buying most of our beef from Prather Ranch, available at the Campbell Farmer’s Market, supplementing with grassfed beef from Whole Foods. The meat grinder doesn’t change where we will buy our meat from, but I may start buying more whole cuts of meat and grinding them myself. Even Whole Foods is not perfect and grinding the meat myself helps me to know exactly what went into my hamburger.
As far as chicken goes, Prather Ranch has whole roasting chickens, in season, although they often run out before I get to the farmer’s market. Mostly, we get Rosie Organic Chicken from Petaluma Poultry (through Whole Foods). That’s what we bought yesterday to try out my grinder! My new toy was super easy to use, and Trevor even said it was easy to clean. I think I see homemade bolognese in our future. Below, I’ve posted my recipe for the tomato sauce and for the chicken meatballs. Obviously, you can purchase already ground chicken for this recipe and they will turn out just fine. So if you don’t have a meat grinder, don’t fret…try it out!
- Olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
- 2 celery stalks, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 can tomato sauce
- 2 cans diced tomato sauce
- 2-3 Tbsp tomato paste
- 3 bay leaves
- dried oregano to taste
- dried thyme to taste
- salt to taste
- Heat a heavy-bottom saucepan over medium heat. Add enough olive oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pot and then add the onion.
- Once the onions begin to become translucent, add celery and carrots. Cook until they begin to soften.
- Add tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and tomato paste. Bring to a simmer.
- Add spices. Allow to simmer for about 40 minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Before serving, remove bay leaves. Season with salt just before serving.
- 1 medium onion, cut into about 12 pieces.
- 2 very cold chicken breasts, fat removed and cut into 1-inch cubes.
- 5 Tbsp whole wheat bread crumbs
- 1 egg
- 1 Tbsp dried oregano
- 1-2 tsp dried thyme
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1-2 tsp kosher salt
- Olive oil for cooking
- If using a meat grinder- set up grinder, turn Kitchen Aid to speed 4 and begin feeding pieces of chicken and onion. Use the provided plastic tool to push chicken down for grinding. If not using grinder, put ground chicken in a bowl and chop onion as finely as you can. Mix onion and chicken with your hands.
- Add egg and mix into chicken.
- Add breadcrumbs, oregano, thyme, garlic powder and salt. Mix thoroughly with your hands.
- Form meatballs and place them on a plate as you go to keep them from sticking together.
- Heat a heavy-bottom pan (I used a cast iron pan) to medium and add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan.
- Place the meatballs on the pan, allow to brown on one side and use kitchen tongs to turn them.
- Once the meatballs are browned on all sides they are ready to serve. Remove from pan and serve with tomato sauce and pasta. Enjoy!