Can I Season Meat Before Grinding It?

Seasoning the food that you’re cooking with is an integral part of making sure that the end result is a wonderfully tasty meal. Anyone that’s ever had the misfortune to eat an under-seasoned meal can attest to that – there’s little worse in everyday life than under-seasoned food.

To ensure that the meat you’re using is as well prepared as possible, a number of people recommend seasoning it before cooking, with dry rubs or marinades, for example. This is typically done with meat not destined for the grinder, to give it greater flavor and texture. We wanted to know if you could season the meat before grinding it, so we did some intensive research. Today, we’re going to share what we’ve learned.

Method for seasoning meat before grinding

There are a few different ways that you can season meat before cooking, though there are two main options – marinating, or using a dry rub.

A Dry Rub

It is precisely what it sounds like – the spices are applied to the outside of the meat as a powder, and somewhat pressed and massaged into the meat, allowing for flavor penetration.

We wouldn’t recommend this, as a meat grinder isn’t designed to deal with powders and similar formats of spices. Therefore, the assorted internal components may degrade faster, and be especially tricky to clean.

A great example of this is the impact that salt typically has on steel, even stainless steel. Usually, salt granules can cause rapid degradation of the steel, leading to a shortening of the life of that piece of metal. We would certainly advise against a dry rub for this reason alone – the burrs and blades of a grinder will be negatively impacted by the effects of salt granules.

Marinating

From above description, it is safe to say that our only remaining option is to marinate. This is a great way to get flavors into meat, as meat typically contains both fats and water. Flavor molecules will be soluble in at least one of those things while in your marinade, so the flavor will easily spread into your meat from that point.

The first step to a great marinade is to make sure that all of the solid ingredients are reduced to the same consistency, within the liquid ingredients. This might sound a little odd, but it couldn’t be easier – simply add all the ingredients for your chosen marinade to a high-powered blender, and then pulse until the mixture is as smooth as possible. At that point, you’re ready to go.

Add the marinade to the top of the meat in a plastic bag, ensuring that every surface of the meat is covered in the marinade. And before sealing the bag press as much air out of it as possible. Refrigerate the meat with the marinade for around eight hours, after which point it will be ready to use.

How to grind meat after marinating?

After marinating, you’ll want to grind the meat that you prepared. The important thing to bear in mind is this – don’t add the excess marinading liquid to the grinder, as that will impair its function. Instead, take the meat out, and grind only that.

To your meat grinder, add the refrigerated pieces of meat that you’ve been working with, making sure to add them in slowly until the grinder is at full capacity. One by one, grind the meat, after which it will be ready to cook.

Make sure to clean the grinder immediately after grinding marinaded meat, as that will prevent any damage to the components or internal structure of the grinder from the seasoning that you were working with. It’s unlikely to cause any damage, but an immediate cleaning is typically the best to ensure that you’re on the safe side.

When you cook the ground meat, we would recommend adding any excess marinading liquid to the pan – this will bring out as much flavor as possible, and ensure that you cut down on food waste. You could, alternatively, discard the marinade, though the final flavor will be a little more subtle, in that case.

We hope that we’ve been able to answer any questions that you might have about seasoning and grinding meat – it can be a little complex, though we’re sure you can navigate through the difficulties with ease.

Kunal Sharma
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