Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Who's Afraid of the Big Pink Slime?

It seems like every day there is some new warning or study telling us about this or that additive in our food that is going to have dire consequences in the form of cancer, diabetes , obesity, and shortened life expectancy.  But not many of these stories has caused the fear, outrage, and outright disgust as the "pink slime" that has been added to much of our ground meat over the past years. In case you have missed it, pink slime is a mixture of beef trimmings that is heated via low temps to separate then centrifuge the excess fat and then treated with ammonia to kill bacteria.  You may have seen pictures of this substance  which looks something like strawberry soft-serve, but did you know that it is mixed in about 70% of our ground beef?  Are you wondering how the first time we are hearing about this is when fast food restaurants are removing it from their products?  Friends and coworkers who know that I write a food blog have been making a special trip to my office to ask me if I had heard about it and what my thoughts were.  In general they are outraged and just disgusted, and want to know who sells meat with this substance, and how they can avoid it.  Some even have sworn off hamburger because the thought of cooked down connective tissue added to their meat just makes them sick.Not to mention that the addition of this product to our meat means that you are not getting what you think you are paying for when you buy ground beef or grand beef products.

This is the food processor I use, and it works great!
So what can you do to avoid the pink slime?  You can buy your ground beef from retailers who do not use it- Costco, Publix and Whole Foods to name a few.  You can avoid fast food burgers until you know this additive has been removed.  You can make your own ground beef." What!" you say? "I am not a butcher, I don't have a meat grinder! Truth is if you can buy a nicely marbled chuck roast and you have a decent food processor, you can do this. I have done it to make what my kids call "steakburgers" and they love it.  If you have a grinder or grinder attachment, you can get a texture more like what you are used to from your supermarket, a food processor yields a more coarse grind of meat, that is actually ore appealing to some since it has a beefy taste and texture. This grind is really great for chili and other ground beef based casseroles. And added advantage- you know exactly what is in your beef and you have complete control of the conditions in which it is processed. So if you are totally grossed out by the pink slime, give it a try, you may never go back to commercial ground beef even after the specter of pink slime is gone.

No Pink Slime Ground Beef

3-4 pound well-marbled chuck roast cut into cubes (Do NOT buy a lean roast or one with fat cut off, otherwise your ground beef will be dry and crumbly or you will need to ask the meatcutter for some beef trimmings to add into reach the optimal fat content)

Food processor with chopper blade


Making sure that your work area and tools are sanitized, cut your chick roast into  ~1x1 chunks. DO NOT BE TEMPTED TO REMOVE FAT. If you do that your ground beef will only be good for casseroles and chilis because patties will not hold together. Process in small batches, pulsing in short bursts to make sure you don't miss any cubes and ensure that you get a product that is neither too coarse or too fine. Once all of your cubes are processed, mix all together to disperse the fat fairly equally and bag and freeze or use.

No comments: