Tag Archives: KitchenAid

FINALLY! An All-Stainless Steel Meat Grinder Attachment for Kitchenaid! (Smokehouse Chef)

**This is an objective product review of a meat grinder I recently purchased.  I have no affiliation with either Kitchenaid or Smokehouse Chef, I do not receive any benefits or “kickbacks” from them, and the links in this ad are to the product pages on Amazon if you want to purchase them.  I do not benefit in any way from any of this, this review is simply for your information.

Smokehouse Chef’s all-stainless steel, dishwasher-safe meat grinder attachment for Kitchenaid mixers

I’ve gone through several meat grinders.  Not because I break them or burn them out…but because they’re just not dishwasher safe, even if the manufacturer claims they are.  And when you’re talking about grinding raw meat, sterility is absolutely paramount, so the idea that I can only wash the complicated parts of a meat grinder by hand using only mild soap, and NO rinses in a sterilizing solution like bleach or vinegar…none of that computes in my brain hole.  Why do manufacturers even produce meat grinders that aren’t 100% dishwasher safe?

The answer is “cost.”  Aluminum is cheap and light, easy to manufacture, and therefore, cheap for the consumer.  But it’s not dishwasher safe.  And it reacts with acids and bleach, and the potent enzymes in modern dishwashing detergents.  Meaning…it’s a TERRIBLE choice for a meat grinder.  But it’s still the metal of choice for 99% of consumer-model meat grinders available today.

Kitchenaid markets its own branded meat grinder attachment for around $50-$65, and states “most parts dishwasher safe,” and the manual for the attachment says to only handwash the blade and the grinding die in mild soapy water.  While these are the smallest parts, making them easy to hand wash (though not, perhaps, safe…washing small, slippery, sharp objects can be dangerous), these parts directly contact the meat and I’d feel far more comfortable if they could be sterilized.  The auger and grinder body are primarily made of plastic, and can be washed in the dishwasher.

To complicate matters…most serious home cooks find this attachment to be fairly worthless.  Of the 800+ reviews on Amazon, more than 100 of them are critical, 1-star reviews, referencing everything from metal shavings ending up in the meat (!!!), to a blade so dull it simply jams every few minutes and needs to be disassembled and cleared repeatedly during grinding, to the attachment straining the Kitchenaid mixer so much it blew out the motor.  Very few people who own this attachment find that it produces a quality grind…the meat ends up more mushy than meaty.  I made the mistake of ordering the attachment several years ago and returned it after the first use.  I email and tweet Kitchenaid on a regular basis, begging them for more quality in their attachments, which are largely very cheap and ineffective.  I’m HAPPY to pay a bit more for an all-stainless attachment that is of quality construction and is dishwasher safe, and I think many Kitchenaid owners are like-minded…but they just don’t make them.  (I will state that the Kitchenaid pasta roller and pasta extruder attachments are exceptionally useful, and I’m very happy with them…however, they cost almost as much as the stand mixer itself, and cannot be washed at all, only brushed off!)

Cabela’s all-stainless meat grinder…a $400 toy, but dishwasher safe.

And I’ve been looking for a quality stainless-steel meat grinder ever since.  I went through a few self-standing models that claimed to be dishwasher safe, or didn’t reference the dishwasher in their materials, but ended up NOT being dishwasher safe.  (When they came out of the dishwasher, they were coated in oxidized grey dust.)  And I was uneasy about the fact that I needed a massive, self-standing grinder taking up space in my garage, when an appropriate power source, the 1-horsepower motor on my pro-model Kitchenaid stand mixer, already takes up space on my counter.  To be fair, Cabela’s produces an all-stainless steel self-standing grinder that is very popular among the hunting community, but their cheapest 1/2 horsepower model is over $400, and their cheaper models are not all-stainless and aren’t dishwasher safe.  But I have twice that much horsepower in my Kitchenaid already…and I wanted an all-stainless steel meat grinder attachment for it…why is that an unreasonable request?

Enter Smokehouse Chef, a small, family-owned Texas company that has been producing all-stainless replacement parts for OTHER manufacturer’s meat grinders, including Cabela’s and Kitchenaid.  For years they’ve marketed an “all-metal” grinder attachment, but they must have heard my endless pleas to Kitchenaid, because they have just released a full stainless steel grinder attachment at the very reasonable price of $169 on their websiteThis is the only Kitchenaid meat grinder attachment currently on the market that is made entirely from stainless steel, and thus dishwasher safe.  It is also cheaper than the grinder attachment manufactured by Chef’s Choice, which has aluminum parts and costs $150-$200!

I was as excited as a kid on Christmas morning when it arrived on my doorstep, and within moments I had it opened, attached to my Kitchenaid, and I started making sausage with some venison I had in the freezer, and some pork fatback (the layer of pure fat from a pig’s back, normally used for making sausage).

The first thing I noticed is that the hopper (the tray that holds the un-ground meat) is massive…way bigger than the Kitchenaid attachment.  I had 4 pounds of meat and fat in there, and there was room for more.

The plastic tamper that allows you to push the meat down into the grind cylinder is solid and easy to use.  And the grinder performs flawlessly…the blade is sharp, and using the medium grind die (the grinder comes with 3 dies, fine, medium and coarse, as well as a stainless sausage stuffing sleeve) I got an absolutely gorgeous grind on the venison.  After grinding 4 pounds of meat/fat, and then casing the resulting sausage, there was still no discernible heat on the grinder.  Meat grinders build heat at the surface where the blade contacts the die, and heating meat into the danger-zone where pathogens can rapidly multiply (40F-140F) can become a serious problem.  On MasterChef, they had us combat this by adding ice to the meat as it was grinding, which seemed ludicrous to me…all that did was water down the meat.  The way *I* combat heat buildup is to put the cubed meat and fat into the freezer for an hour before grinding, which also gives you a much better final grind texture, as the meat cuts more easily when it’s a little frozen.

After about an hour of grinding and casing, I disassembled the grinder and tossed all the parts into the dishwasher, running it on the longest cycle with sterilization.  (This gave me time to cook and devour my sausages!!!)

Everything came out spotless, with the minor exception of the blade, which had a tiny bit of rust inside the stamped logo.  A bit of a disappointment, but understandable, as the stamping process creates heat and the friction between the stamp and the blade can create chemical reactions that change the properties of stainless steel.  I brushed it well and spritzed on a bit of oil.  If the rust continues to be a problem, I will update this blog as well as contact Smokehouse Chef.

My only real beef with this grinder right now is that it comes without a manual or instructions, so if you don’t already know your way around a meat grinder, you’ll need to do a bit of internet searching and YouTubing to figure out how to assemble and use it.  But that was no issue for me.  All in all, I’m incredibly pleased with this grinder and I see lots and lots and LOTS of sausage in my future (no jokes please)!

Most Kitchenaid attachments require too much power for the basic Artisan model

***IMPORTANT***  Due to the stress that this attachment can place on the underpowered motor in the Kitchenaid entry-model, tilt-head mixer (the Artisan), I DO NOT recommend you use this attachment on Artisan mixers.  For that matter, I don’t recommend this model to anyone for ANY reason.  There’s just not enough power to do anything but beat egg whites and bake cookies.  If you want to knead bread, or use the pasta or meat grinding attachments, you need a more powerful model.  I highly recommend the version Costco sells, a 1hp 6-quart model, which is often available throughout the year at under $300 on sale and after a manufacturer’s rebate.  This is the model we use at FRANK, where we often make pastas and knead breads for 18 people a night, 4 nights in a row.  It is strong, whisper-quiet, and a great value.

Feel free to comment below if you’ve had experience with any meat grinders that you can recommend or caution us against!

Product Review: KitchenAid Pasta Extruder

So, for my birthday, my partner got me the KitchenAid attachment that extrudes pasta.  (Their more popular, slightly cheaper pasta attachment is a roller and cutter, which allows you to make authentic fettucini, lasagne, etc.)  With the extruder you can made REAL spaghetti (the roller makes square “spaghetti”), macaroni, fusilli (kinda like rotini but less twisty), rigatoni, and bucatini (which is like thick spaghetti, but hollow in the center like macaroni).  I jumped up and down!  I love making homemade pasta, but I have a hand roller machine, and it’s kind of a pain.  On MasterChef I used the KitchenAid roller attachment, which I’ll admit was slightly better, because you can use both hands to handle the pasta…but rolled pasta is still notoriously difficult to handle, especially the thinner cuts.  It clumps together unless you absolutely douse it in flour, and when you then boil the floury pasta, you get TERRIBLE boil-overs.

I was REALLY excited to try it, but I’ll admit…it’s a plastic machine that costs around $160, and I doubted its ability to ACTUALLY extrude quality pasta.  (A genuine pasta extruding machine costs thousands of dollars.)  A LOT of pressure is required to force pasta dough through tiny dies, which are normally made of bronze, and the KitchenAid’s dies are made of plastic and chrome.  So the first time I used it, I was skeptical and didn’t expect miracles.

I threw together a simple pasta dough…1 cup of AP flour, 1 cup of cake flour, and 1 cup of semolina (what true Italian pasta is made of), 3 eggs, salt, and a splash of water.  I let my KitchenAid do the first part of the kneading…I took over for the last minute to get it really smooth.  Without letting the pasta rest (essential if you’re rolling it out, to let the gluten relax so the dough doesn’t tear), I immediately put a walnut-sized ball of dough into the extruder.  After about a 30 second wait, while the dough was corkscrewed down and pressed through the dies, here’s what came out:

Making Rigatoni with the KitchenAid Pasta Press or Extruder

Uhhhh…wow!  That’s some rigatoni, baby!

I could NOT believe my eyes.  This was a stiff dough…1/3 semolina.  And here comes perfect rigatoni!

There is a built-in slicer that quickly cuts the pasta off, and you just catch it in your hand and toss it onto a towel to dry.

Fresh Rigato Drying on a Towel
I continued feeding walnut-sized pieces into the extruder, making sure the dough fully disappeared into the corkscrew before adding more.  (Per the directions on the package.)  About 30 minutes after I started making the dough, I had 2 pounds of fresh rigatoni drying on the towel on my countertop.

I let it dry for about an hour, then tossed it into a 6 quart Dutch oven about 2/3 full of boiling water.  Like rolled pasta, there was quite a bit of foaming, due to the gluten fibers in the flour escaping into the water and forming a “skin” that causes the water to foam and boil over…but it wasn’t NEARLY as bad as rolled pasta.  (I actually didn’t have any water boil over at all, but the foam rose to within 1/2 inch of the pot’s rim.)

Making Fresh Pasta with the Kitchenaid Pasta Press Attachment

By the way, when you’re boiling pasta, your water should be SALTY.  Not a teaspoon or a tablespoon.  A handful.  Italian chefs say the pasta boil water should taste as salty as the ocean.  If not, your pasta won’t taste its best.

I boiled the fresh rigatoni (after it dried for an hour) for 3 minutes.  ThenI finished cooking it about a minute longer in a vodka sauce I tossed together quickly.  If the rigatoni had gone straight from the extruder into the water, it probably only needed 2 minutes.

MAN was it good!  This machine is really impressive, I NEVER would have imagined it would be so effective.  (And I have NO relationship with KitchenAid whatsoever…this is a genuine, non-biased review.)

Rigatoni being extruded from the Kitchenaid pasta attachment

Cleanup is a little perplexing, as it is with ALL pasta machines.  NO water!  You have to disassemble the extruder (as easy as unscrewing the lid), pop out the die, and pop out the plastic corkscrew that presses the pasta.  Then let it sit overnight for the dough to dry, then you pick out the dried dough with the tip of a knife.  There is a brush included with the set that you can use to brush everything off, then put it back in the box.  NO washing, this will ruin the unit.

Today I tried a dough that was 50% AP flour, and 50% semolina, which is much stiffer and more authentic, but I assumed the extruder would have a harder time with it.  I also chose to extrude fusilli, which is more difficult to extrude than rigatoni, to REALLY give this machine a workout.

Flawless performance.  (No pictures, sorry, my hands were full and Christian was at work.)  It took me 15 minutes, start to finish, to make the dough and extrude it, 2 minutes in the boil water, and 1 minute in the sauce.  Compare that with the length of time you have to boil storebought dried pasta, and it’s ALMOST the same amount of time to get pasta on the plate…only this is fresh and homemade!

Needless to say, I’m going to be making homemade pasta WAY more frequently now.  None of the mess of rolled pasta.  And it’s so great to take the dough straight from kneading into the extruder, without having to let the gluten rest.  You could literally have surprise guests show up on your doorstep, jump into the kitchen, and have a full homemade pasta meal in 30 minutes.  Extraordinary.

I should footnote here that I am using the KitchenAid Professional 600 (575 watts), not the more popular Artisan model, which has 325 watts.  I’m not sure if the smaller amount of power will have an effect on performance.

At around $160-$180 retail, this is NOT an attachment for penny pinchers.  Of course, if you have a Kitchenaid, you are probably not a penny pincher.  I am NOTORIOUSLY stingy with my money, and was given my KitchenAid Pro as a gift for planning a friend’s wedding, and I can WITHOUT A DOUBT say that it’s worth every single penny of the $350ish dollars it costs, and had I known it was going to change my kitchen life, I’d have bought it with my own money many years ago.

Would I have gone out and spent $160 on this attachment?  No.  Because I’m a stingy jerk.  But now that I’ve used it, and see how incomparably easy it is to make extruded pasta, I will get my money’s worth very quickly.  I give this attachment 10 out of 10…I’m THAT impressed!