Alex Šilbajoris - Technical Writer, Technical Editor, Research Specialist
My Left Hand Smells of Onion, Again
Here are some of my favorite cooking routines
My parents gave me their 1950s Chop-Rite #10 meat grinder when they got a grinder attachment for their Kitchen Aid stand mixer. (I still have that, too.)
I grew up with this grinder. Our family would grind beef, and as an eager boy I wanted to participate. I remember being 6 - 7 years old and struggling to turn the crank as my father and grandfather snacked raw ground beef on rye bread with shots of chilled vodka while they laughed at me.
I cut the meat, usually pork or beef, into rough stewing chunks. I give it a first grind through a coarse plate. It is possible to add ingredients to go through the grinder along with the meat; in this case it's fresh leeks going into an Asian-flavored patty project. It could as well be jalapenos, or onions, or maybe parsley to make koefta. The grinding goes quickly with the coarse plate.
Next I usually grind it through the 3/16-inch "hamburger" plate which is the only plate the grinder had when I got it. In this case I'm adding homegrown sage to make a breakfast sausage. Helped along by some Zappa in New York.
It takes more time and effort to grind through the finer plate. It's easier if the meat has already gone through the coarse plate. Once it has gone through the hamburger plate, it's the right texture for making patties, or else frying it loose to add to a meat sauce.
There is more to tell than I have room for here. I first smoked meat when I was camping with a small kettle grill, and I had split chicken breasts to cook. I was too lazy and cheap to drive to town for charcoal so I made a fire of windfall maple. I used the kettle vents to control the fire, and I was sold on the method and results.
I suggest you look at Smoking Meat Forums or any of the many other discussion groups on the subject.
I run a small "offset" smoker which has a firebox separate from the cooking chamber.
I can smoke with it, or I can use it as a regular charcoal grill. You can do anything between slow smoking and fast grilling if you have one of these, or a kettle grill like a Weber.
You'll never need to pay top dollar for smoked salmon again.