Monday, April 2, 2007

Cube the Meat and Add Spices

You are ready to start processing the meat. Open the Brisket package in one of your food trays. Catch all of the juices and discard the plastic wrap. Set up a clean cutting board or cutting mat and slice the brisket into “steaks” about ¾ inches thick. The thickness really depends on the size of your meat grinder. If you have a real powerful one, you can make the slices thicker and avoid a small bit of work. Tip: You might want to ask your supermarket butcher to slice the Brisket up for you into the steaks. This would be a time saver for you. Just make sure that the butcher packages your meats well for the freezer if you plan to keep it frozen for any length of time. I prefer to open the package myself and save the juices. It’s up to you.

Now, trim the fat off each steak, and cube up the fat and beef to chunks that will work well with your meat grinder. This is where the finely sharpened knife really comes into play. Sharp and flexible can make quick work of this task. As you can see, I prefer to use a fish filet knife, but any knife that you have will work for you. Arrange the fat and beef in separate piles in the tray. When you have the entire Brisket sliced up into cubes, weigh each pile and keep track of how much fat and beef you have by weight. This measurement is not critical; you just want to know approximately what percentages of fat to lean you

have to work with. If you read the ingredients on a few “store bought” sausage packages at the local supermarket, you will find that most of them quote roughly 35% fat. I personally prefer about 30% fat to lean, Dane, however likes his somewhere between 20 and 30% of fat. This is your chance to make up your own ratio. You are only going for a ballpark mixture percent, it is not critical in any way. That’s the reason that the cheap little kitchen scale is very adequate for the job. So either remove fat to keep and freeze for your next batch, or add some fat that you had stored from previous batch runs. If you deal with a real butcher at your meat market, he will usually give you some beef or pork fat for free, to have in reserve in your freezer for your mix. One of the nice things about the Packer Trim Beef Brisket is that they are usually about 30-35% fat to lean right out of the package. So, you could just cube it up and grind it without measuring it. It's a sure thing, you can’t go too wrong. I’d still cut the fat and lean up separately in order to get the fat mixed in more evenly prior to grinding. The reason I say this is usually on a Brisket, one end or the other has very thick fat and the other is much thinner. Bottom line, you want your sausages to be a good even mix.

Mix the fat and lean with your hands or any tool of your choice. I prefer to use the stainless steel tongs. It keeps my hands cleaner and you can shift things around easily. Once you have the meat spread out evenly, sprinkle your spices over the meat as evenly as you can. I keep a spice shaker with large holes for this job. Add and mix the spices to the meats in 4 or 5 passes, mixing the meat up thoroughly between spice applications.
Your grinder is not a good mixer, you want the spices well mixed
prior to grinding so that you don’t have any heavy or light concentrations of spice in the final product.
Finally, add about 1/2 cup of liquid. Water, Wine, Beer, a liquid of your choice. Mix thoroughly!

-=- Jerry -=-

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