Ground pork is a versatile ingredient used to make homemade sausage and a wide range of other recipes. When added to other ground meats like beef and veal, ground pork adds complex flavors to old standbys like meatballs and meatloaf. Good ground pork requires a great deal of fat in order to maintain its flavor, so use a fatty pork shoulder cut like Boston butt. Grinding pork at home lets you control quality and add your own seasonings.
Cut the pork shoulder into 1-1/2-inch to 2-inch strips with a chef's knife. For easier slicing, cut against the grain by passing the knife across the lines of muscle tissue visible in the meat.
Place a batch of raw pork strips into your food processor up to the line that designates maximum capacity. Unless you have an industrial-sized food processor that fits all of your meat, you must work with small batches.
Sprinkle salt and pepper over the meat. If unsure how much to use, start with a generous pinch of salt and 1/8 teaspoon of pepper per pound of meat. Sprinkle additional seasonings over the pork according to specific recipes.
Pulse the meat in your processor in five-second intervals, stopping every few seconds to gauge the grind size. Grind the meat until you reach a consistency similar to ground beef. Take care not to over grind, as pureed pork shoulder is difficult to salvage in any recipe.
Remove the ground pork, put it in a large glass bowl, cover with plastic wrap and place it in the refrigerator. Add more batches to the bowl as you finish grinding.
- Serious Eats; The Food Lab: Slicing Meats Against the Grain
- Cook's Thesaurus: Miscellaneous Pork Cuts
- Cook's Thesaurus: Pork Shoulder Cuts
- "Bon Apetit": Ground Pork
- The Kitchn; How to Grind Your Own Sausage; March 2009
- "The New York Times"; For the Grill, Burgers Beyond the Basic; Mark Bittman; May 2010
- If you don't own a food processor, use a meat grinder or glass blender with a meat-grinding attachment. Pulse the meat as you would in a food processor. To prevent food-borne illness, do not use a plastic blender.
- Recipes for fresh sausage might include crushed red pepper and dried sage, but you can substitute fresh sage. For best results, double the amount of fresh herbs to substitute for dried herbs.
- Ground pork makes a great burger on its own, but you can also mix it with equal parts beef. Try adding a teaspoon of jerk seasoning and a large pinch of chili pepper per pound of meat for burgers.
- Carefully sanitize your work surface after handling raw pork to prevent food-borne illness.
- Although you may freeze portions of raw ground pork up to three months, avoid thawing and refreezing raw meat, which can cause food-borne illness.
Christina Lee began writing in 2004. Her co-authored essay is included in the edited volume, "Discipline and Punishment in Global Affairs." Lee holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and politics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a Master of Arts in global affairs from American University and a Master of Arts in philosophy from Penn State University.