The Cheese Grater Hack For Ground Meat In A Flash

Ground meat is essential in plenty of recipes. If you want to make the perfect meatloaf or some delicious meatballs, you need to start with good-quality ground meat. While it's easy enough to purchase pre-ground meat from the store, it's not always as easy to tell its quality. Or, if whole chicken breast is on sale, it might make more sense financially than purchasing ground chicken. In this case, you don't actually need a meat grinder to turn chicken or steak into ground meat. You just need a cheese grater.

While a cheese grater might be named as such for its ability to shred cheese, it's become useful in a number of other ways, including shredding veggies and grinding meat. You can shred chicken or steak along the grater and quickly turn it into freshly ground meat — just make sure your grater is sharp and high-quality for the best results.

How to grind meat with a cheese grater

First, make sure you have a sturdy, sharp cheese grater. A metal one is best for this; they usually have sharper edges than plastic graters. Then, take the meat and press firmly along the grater to grind it. Within minutes, you have meat that's ready for meatballs, burgers, or even chicken nuggets.

Once you've ground the meat, you can either cook it right away or pop it into the refrigerator for up to two days, which is the USDA-recommended shelf life of ground meat. After that, if you don't have time to cook it, you can freeze it. Just place the meat in an airtight, freezer-friendly bag and fully seal it, or wrap it in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and add it to an airtight container. 

Once frozen, it will stay fresh for up to four months. You can use it after that, although it might have a bit of freezer burn but will still be safe to eat.

Take extra steps to prevent foodborne illness

When grinding meat at home, you always have to take safety precautions to prevent foodborne illness. Chicken and meat run the risk of being contaminated with bacteria including salmonella and E. coli, both of which can cause serious illness or even death in those with weaker immune systems.

To prevent food poisoning, make sure to take precautions when grinding meat. Once you use the grater, fully sanitize before using it for any other ingredients. And keep the grater atop a cutting board, which will keep the meat limited to one surface and keep it off of your countertop. If you're using a cutting board, choose a plastic board over a wooden board. Because wooden cutting boards are porous, they're harder to clean and can harbor bacteria. 

Finally, make sure to cook ground meat thoroughly to an internal temperature of 160 to 165 degrees Fahrenheit for beef and chicken, respectively.