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Pros - all metal construction
Cons - small hopper, this set doesn't come with stuffing tubes
If you are like me you have always found the "official" grinder attachment for the Kitchenaid stand mixer to be lacking. It's plastic body and dull cutting blade would often get clogged or smear your meat into paste instead of cutting it into a proper grind. So I was excited to try out the second party grinder attachment, by Hightower Kitchens, for the Kitchenaid.
The first thing you notice, when picking up the box, is that it is heavy. Upon opening the box you are presented with a heavy, thick walled grinder body cast in high grade stainless steel, along with 3 different size grinding plates, more than enough for most uses. The cutting blade is nice and sharp, and being stainless steel, should hold its edge well unless you ground an exceptional amount of bone and sinew.
Like most grinders, this one works best when chilled (frozen) and the meat is partially frozen. When following these simple rules you should get a good clean grind with most meats. I need notice that when I tried using the smallest grinding plate, with meat that had warmed up a bit, I did get some smearing, but I think this was as much the fault of the mixer as it was the grinder attachment. I own a mid-priced (and medium powered) Kitchenaid and sometimes the machine really had to work to try and grind the meat, and a few times I did bog the motor down a bit. Hightower Kitchens suggests that their grinder not be used on the entry level Kitchenaid stand mixers as there is the possibility that the workout of grinding meat could burn out the motor. As with every grinder attachment to be used with a mixer (as opposed to a dedicated grinding machine) I always suggest you constantly monitor how hot your motor is getting and stopping every once in awhile to let the motor rest and cool a bit.
One thing that I had been hoping for, with this new attachment was a larger hopper, in which to put your meat as you push it into the grinder. Unfortunately, Hightower Kitchen doesn't improve upon this aspect much. It is slightly larger and deeper than Kitchenaid's own, but not by much. This is a small complaint, but one that annoys me, personally.
The other issue is that this set does not come with stuffing tubes. You can purchase some but those will need to be purchased separately. I did not try using my Kitchenaid tubes, but those being plastic, and this grinder being all metal, I was afraid that I would crack the tubes, if they even fit. My suggestion would be to spring for those as well.
This upgrade does come at a cost. This attachment set will run approximately 2 1/2-3 times what the Kitchenaid attachment will cost, but if you do a lot of grinding the additional investment is well worth it. Of course this isn't as good a purchasing a fully dedicated electric grinder, but it is about the next best thing.