Charcutepalooza May: meat grinding!

See that little metal thing up there? ^^  Yes, that’s the blade for your Kitchen Aid meat grinder attachment. Don’t try to grind meat without it. Ahem. This, my friends, is the lesson I have learned from this month’s Charcutepalooza challenge – meat grinding.

I know, I know, I sound like a complete idiot but there is a reason behind my stupidity.  First of all, this was the first time I have used the Kitchen Aid meat grinding attachment. We got a whole set that included a pasta making attachment, a food slicer and probably some other things too. We’ve used the pasta attachment which is a little like the meat grinding attachment, except that it doesn’t have a blade in it. Of course.  So when the time came to grind the meat this month, I let Neil put the attachment together and then when I checked it, I figured it looked ok.  I mean, there’s a ton of odd looking little bits and pieces, right? (I see a bunch of you shaking your head and possibly clicking out of this page at this point. Don’t – there are some decent recipes to follow!).

To be fair, we were both super busy the weekend we attempted this for the first time. Neil did this during a break from writing a proposal and I was on a break from writing my final grad school paper for the year, which was due 2 days later.  So our heads were elsewhere.

The first thing we attempted was merguez – spicy lamb sausage meat, with the recipe taken straight from Ruhlman’s Ratio.  I fell in love with merguez in Paris where it is easily available, and jump at the chance to buy or eat it here since it is more scarce.  (We’ve actually found Michael Ruhlman’s Ratio to be invaluable through this process – check it out on Amazon, Amazon.ca or enjoy free worldwide shipping from The Book Depository) . We prepared the meat and fatback according to Ruhlman’s instructions…

and added the spices, herbs and red peppers…

Alas, sans blade the Kitchen Aid was the target of much verbal abuse that Easter Sunday. Twice.  Oh I tweeted about it, I blamed the Kitchen Aid, I was jumpin’ mad.  Ended up pouring ourselves a big glass of wine and putting the meat back in the freezer.

The next day I ground the meat in the food processor and it was just fine. But I was pretty mad with the poor Kitchen Aid still…  So what to do with all that merguez?

I figured a spicy moussaka might be just the trick…

I’m going to share the recipes from this challenge in separate posts if that’s ok.  It’s epic enough already!

Now this merguez was definitely not spicy at all. But it was extremely tasty. I would definitely make both the merguez and moussaka again but would up the spice ratio (I can’t believe it’s ME saying that! I am sure Mr Neil agrees!)

Next up, I decided that we would ditch the “faulty” Kitchen Aid and make the breakfast sausage patties that Mrs Wheelbarrow gave us the recipe for in the challenge announcement post.  I love breakfast sausage (actually – sssh! – I secretly love those breakfast sausages you get on planes. I know, I know, take away my food blogger badge right now!)  and love the idea of making my own so I can control what goes into it…

Yup, the food processor came through for us again!  And I made little breakfast patties….

Which we fried up and had breakfast for dinner…

No, they are not the most attractive food but they were darn tasty!

With some home fries, fried mushrooms and flash-fried tomatoes, it was a perfect dinner.  Or perhaps a Brinner?

Feeling satisfied with myself that we had completed both challenges, I packed away the Kitchen Aid grinder attachment, grumbling all the time. Until I heard something rattling around in the bottom of the box. The blade. Errrr…  But hey, at least I am honest, right? We messed up. Royalement, comme diraient les français… Cathy (Mrs Wheelbarrow) encouraged me to try again, because you never know, it still might not work. Oh Cathy, you are too kind…

It’s amazing what a difference the blade makes. LOL!

I used this pork shoulder to make meatballs, inspired by some that we had eaten in Niagara on the Lake at Lailey Vineyard.  They had the recipe available and I used it as a base and followed my tastebuds…

This recipe is a keeper. Watch out for it over the next little while on the blog!

And what better way to use meatballs than with spaghetti, right? Actually in this case, we used bucatini since it’s a little more robust and can stand the weight of the meatballs.

I absolutely *loved* these. They also reminded me how easy it is to make your own meatballs. And that I should do this more often.  This Charcutepalooza thing, it’s working, isn’t it?

The “official signup” for Charcutepalooza is over (see who signed up here) but you can still join in the fun – purchase Charcuterie either on Amazon, Amazon.ca or enjoy free worldwide shipping at The Book Depository and cook along with us!

And, you know, should you wish to purchase a meat grinding attachment for your Kitchen Aid, you can find one here.  Just, you know, remember to use the blade instead of leaving it in the box.

63 Responses to Charcutepalooza May: meat grinding!

  1. reena May 15, 2011 at 17:27 #

    Ha Ha. We had the same problem… forgot the blade, then remembered…. Then discovered that we had lost the little plastic bit that helps push the meat into the sausage casings! ACK.

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite May 26, 2011 at 20:53 #

      SO glad that I am in good company… I have safely tucked away the little white part for the sausage stuffer!

  2. Tonya - What's On My Plate May 15, 2011 at 17:32 #

    This story still cracks me up! No more cursing your KitchenAid!

  3. Mr. Neil May 15, 2011 at 19:00 #


    Not much to add. BUT – once the cross was in place, the grinding was a success.

    The merguez was not merguez at all, really: spice ratios way off. I’d call it merguez for Caucasians. Would double – if not triple – for making proper merguez. But, as it turned out, it was perfect for the moussaka. Coupled with a spicy Cotes-du-Rhone, was a delightful meal.

    And the meatballs were to die for. Hardy, not the crumbly ones you often get (with more wheat filler, I suspect). The only match was a Chianti for me.

    So, all in all some great fun and meals in the month’s challenge – despite our tired states causing some early grief.

  4. rebecca May 15, 2011 at 19:06 #

    love all the awesome ground meat recipes u created

  5. Lynn May 15, 2011 at 19:08 #

    You made a gear story of your grinding adventure, and I still say I could easily have done the same. Your photos are inspiring. And you are so right about Charcutepalooza. I’m making pasta and and my own meatballs for dinner tonight.

  6. Kimmy @ Lighter and Local May 15, 2011 at 19:33 #

    Ah that blade. I so wish I had one as well. 🙂 Everything looks amazing, as always. I’m looking forward to the meatball recipe, they look fantastic!

    Re: the merguez and Mr. Neil’s additions – I didn’t make the merguez, but if I had gone by the book on the chorizo, I think it would have been too tame for me. I added in a LOT of extra seeds for heat.

  7. Darlene May 15, 2011 at 19:35 #

    Not everyone can admit their mistakes to the world, so I applaud your honesty and humility! You’re not a quitter either!

    Just a word of warning. If you got the sausage stuffing attachment, don’t bother with it. It really sucks.

    Happy sausage making!

  8. DiggingDogFarm May 15, 2011 at 20:46 #

    Looks absolutely delicious!


  9. Steph @Lick My Spoon May 15, 2011 at 21:01 #

    wow wow wow mardi! you really went all out with the recipes! those meatballs look delish, and moussaka! brilliant. did you find a big difference in quality using the food pro vs. grinder attachment?

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite May 26, 2011 at 20:50 #

      The grinder attachment makes it more like the texture of the meat you buy in the store. The food processor is a little more rustic.

  10. Winnie May 15, 2011 at 21:27 #

    Everything looks delicious Mardi (despite the blade mishap)! Can’t wait to see all your recipes 🙂

  11. Brian @ A Thought For Food May 16, 2011 at 07:16 #

    You’re not stupid at all… these things just happen (and they happen to me regularly). Yay for getting it to work! And that moussaka looks phenomenal!

  12. kitchenarian May 16, 2011 at 08:39 #

    Wow. I am so impressed with everything that you did. I can’t wait for the recipes! Great post.

  13. penny aka jeroxie May 16, 2011 at 08:52 #

    hahha… I remember how frustrated you were. I am glad all came through in the end and you actually found the blade or you will still be blaming the stupid KA!

  14. Paula May 16, 2011 at 09:23 #

    Your brinner looks wonderful as do your meatballs and your merguez (which I’ve never heard of before).
    As for the initially forgotten blade, it was discovered, the KA works just as it should and all is well now 🙂

  15. K A B L O O E Y May 16, 2011 at 09:59 #

    Boy, does that like something I would do. Thanks for fessing up — makes for trust with your readership. I LOVE merguez ever since eating couscous royale in Paris more than half my lifetime ago.

  16. Deborah Dowd May 16, 2011 at 10:12 #

    I have a Kitchen Aid but have not gotten the grinder attachment. I have used my food processor to make steak-burgers and also venison sausage which turned out great. I can remember my mom having one of the old-school grinders that attached to your counter top!

  17. Kate@Diethood May 16, 2011 at 11:22 #

    LOL! 🙂 Thank you for the laugh, Mardi….I love your honesty! My meat grinder is from circa 1970-something … but it still works so I’m not trading it in, yet. Now pass me some of those meatballs, PLEASE!

  18. Annapet May 16, 2011 at 11:41 #

    Mardi, thank you for sharing! How I miss your blog and thank goodness today I found the time to read and leave you a comment!

    I did the actual May Challenge…Talked about it for days and days, and ate everything BEFORE I took photos. I have a reason (you can roll eyes in wonder or disbelief).

    Fabulous post, as always.

  19. The Cilantropist May 16, 2011 at 12:11 #

    I don’t know what sounds better to me – the merguez or the spaghetti and meatballs!!! Everything looks fantastic, and I am extremely jealous of your meat grinder (even if it was tricky to use. 😉

    Also, I completely agree – Ratio is an invaluable resource to have in the kitchen, I use it ALL the time.

  20. Vicki @ WITk May 16, 2011 at 12:25 #

    I’m so happy to hear that you made these tasty looking meats with a food processor! I’m amazed at the different things that you were able to make, I can’t wait to try and grind my own meat!

  21. Erin May 16, 2011 at 13:00 #

    Freshly ground meat…delicious results! All of it looks wonderful, and amazing you can do it all on your own! Who needs that stuff in the styrofoam container?

  22. Ethan May 16, 2011 at 13:15 #

    You’re a good person for confessing:) But I don’t think anyone is judging you for your lack of Kitchen Aid knowledge, plus it gave you a great story to share!
    Everything looks great, but I especially like the meatballs and pasta on the traditional Italian tablecloth!

  23. Jan May 16, 2011 at 15:18 #

    So the Kitchenaid worked! I remember you tweeting about the slight snag with the Kitchenaid grinder, and I was very sad to hear it was failing, ’cause I had been eying it. Anyways, glad to hear the Kitchenaid grinder does, in fact, grind well! That moussaka with merguez must have been brilliant 🙂

  24. Nancy May 16, 2011 at 15:36 #

    This makes me glad I have never gotten around to investing in a KitchenAid–it means I have the perfect excuse for just using my beloved food processor. All your ground-meat experiments look awesome!

  25. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction May 16, 2011 at 21:07 #

    I’m thinking that I might need to get that meat grinder attachment for my KitchenAid! Everything looks amazing 🙂

  26. Magic of Spice May 16, 2011 at 22:50 #

    Oh no, well at least you figured it out and looks like the food processor did a pretty good job as well 🙂

  27. Christine (HammockGal) May 17, 2011 at 08:35 #

    Oh my!

    I don’t have the KA grinding attachment, I do have my grandfather’s very old hand grinder. Of course it did not come with instructions. I forgot that grid part, you know, where the meat actually comes out. I had big glob. Until I called my grandfather. Once he quit laughing at me, he told me what I did.

    It happens to all of us at one point or another. Chalk it up to a good laugh for when you retell it… years later. ;o)

    Glad you got it worked out!


  28. Kathy - Panini Happy May 17, 2011 at 13:08 #

    I am impressed! I’ve had my meat grinder attachment for more than a year and I still haven’t ventured to try it out. You’re inspiring me!

  29. Sara @CaffeIna May 17, 2011 at 18:45 #

    I wish I lived close to you to come over for dinner every time you make one of your “meat experiments” They all sound amazing to me.

  30. Cathy May 17, 2011 at 23:24 #

    Great photos, Mardi! Seriously, taking pictures of meat and sausages is not easy, but yours are wonderful and everything looks so appetizing. Can’t wait to meet you later this week. xoCathy

  31. Island Vittles May 19, 2011 at 20:13 #

    your moussaka looks mouthwatering! Theresa

  32. Conor @ Hold the Beef May 24, 2011 at 01:51 #

    Hee hee, you crazy kids. Poor old Kitchen Aid was trying its hardest I’m sure.

    My Mum has (or probably out in the back of the garage these days) a hand crank mincer that I was so excited to find up the back of the kitchen cupboard one day. I would get it out and “mince” slices of bread through it until my Mum would tell me to stop wasting food. I am yet to actually reenact this with meat.

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