Grinding Chuck

Joined Aug 15, 2004
I like to grind my own hamburger from chuck. The only problem is, I am not sure what I can grind up and what I should not.

After exhaustive net searches, I have not found anything closely resembling a pictorial guide and accompanying instructions on how to do this.

The closest thing I've seen is Jacque Pepin with Julia (may she rest in peace) making hamburgers once, but they didn't really go into much detail.

I cannot stand to get little white hard things, or opaque rubbery things, or other objectionable "stuff" in the finished product.

I hope somebody out there knows what I'm talkin' 'bout!

Your help will be greatly appreciated.

Joined Aug 29, 2000
When I first read the title, Doc, I thought it was a take-off on the movie title, "Kill Bill". :eek:

We used to grind hamburger from chuck steaks we bought at the grocery store (Eagles ;) ). Mom trimmed the steaks of the obvious fat. (They were nearly always bone-in.) That way you control what goes in because you can be selective. We used one of those old cast aluminum grinders with a medium blade. She usually used the freshly-ground meat immediately, but sometimes made patties and froze them individually if there was extra.

I've always thought chuck made the best hamburgers.

Of course that was back in the day when choice grade beef actualy had internal marbling and we didn't think much about cholesterol! But you can still get the control you want if you choose the meat and add just what you want to have in there.

As I recall, Mom cut up the meat and intermingled the fat and lean portions so the meat was pretty uniform in fat to lean distribution. I don't remember ever biting into anything objectionable.

If I could get a call through to Naples FL I'd ask her myself, but you know why that's probably not going to happen for a while. :(
Joined Aug 15, 2004
Hi Ann,
Yeah, Eagles. I remember it well!

Some more info from my butcher friend Glenn from Byerly's in St Paul.


1. Grind up only the white fat.
2. Push on the fat through the plastic wrapper. If it is solid and white, it is good fat.
3. Get prime for the marbling.
4. Buy the whole tenderloin in the sealed pouch as it comes from IBP, and grind up the stuff you trim from it along with your chuck. There's a pretty big flap of stuff that gets trimmed off before you usually see the tenderloin individually packaged for sale.
5. Do slightly freeze the meat first before grinding.
6. Double grind it (I assume after the first grinding you have to slightly freeze it again. Frankly I've never double ground it).

1. Don't grind up the chuck seam (this must be the part that has stretchy stuff in it, and runs across the middle of the piece of meat).
2. Don't grind up anything gray, especially along the outside border. It turns that way from being exposed to air.
3. Don't grind up any "straps". (He didn't have time to go into what a strap was.)
4. Don't grind up the opaque gristle.
5. Don't grind up any fat that is soft and squishy.
6. Don't grind up any tendons.
7. Don't grind up the silver skin.
8. Don't grind up meat that has gone through the jacquard machine. It gets too mushy, and looks like Vet's dog food coming out the Kitchen Aid meat grinder that I use.

But I am confused, the silver skin seems to lie between the meat proper and the white solid fat. It seems rather hard to separate it. But whenever I see chuck cubes being ground up (like they show the Maid Rite in Marshalltown Iowa on the PBS great sandwich documentary doing), it doesn't look like they took any silver skin off from underneath the attached fat.

There still a lot to learn to recognize. Any butchers out there?

Joined Jan 5, 2001
What an informative post! Thanks for sharing that deltadoc, and welcome to cheftalk.
Joined Oct 13, 2001
OK,I cheat at this! Just cube Chuck (Dave or Bill or whoever you happen to have it in for on that particular day) and toss the remains into the food processor and pulse it until you have your desired grind.Just dont over process! For my chili grind I leave it in bigger pieces than my burger grind!
Hope this helps. And now a moment of silence for the next victum :D
Peace, Doug.........
Joined Dec 8, 1999
Regarding straps, he may have been referring to very thick layers of silverskin, such as the backstrap which runs along the dorsal edge of a striploin. Some people also refer to the "flap of stuff" that's trimmed off of a tenderloin as a side-strap. The side-strap does have some silver skin running through it, though, so you'd want to trim it up before grinding.

Another tip: chill down the grinder parts in ice water before use.

Interesting reading for the butchery-inclined here . In particular, you'll want to download the "beef with pictures" pdf file. You'll need adobe acrobat reader to view these files. It's free and there's a link on that page to click on to get it.


Staff member
Joined Jun 11, 2001
A lot of work. I just cube it, trim off what I don't like and put in through the grinder. It's been a while though since I've used ground beef for anything other than spaghetti sauce, and then the stuff I use is normally Tenderloin scraps. I normally just grill a steak, less work, even less cleanup.

Joined Nov 17, 2000
I couldn't help it--I love your topic title! I have student named Chuck who really NEEDS grinding. :p Or maybe I just need to grind my teeth. Well, anyway--I love your title!
And I really learned some interesting things from the thread--I never thought of the food processor--I like my chili chunky--that would work!
Love the title!
Joined Dec 23, 2003
Deltadoc, your friend Glenn is one seriously conscientious butcher. From the ground beef I get, I can tell you he sure as heck doesn't work at my local supermarket.
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