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Grinding frozen meat?
I killed a mature bull in 2020, the last year I was able to draw a tag, and my steaks and even back straps were super tough. I love elk burger and eat it a lot so I’m considering grinding what steaks I have left into burger. I still have plenty of deer steaks, but the elk steaks are borderline inedible due to toughness. That being said….can I thaw all my steaks out and grind, add fat and then freeze again?
My thoughts are yes, but it’s pretty much taboo if you ask anyone that just buys there meat at the store.
Yepper. I do it all the time
I don’t make burger, but I thaw out older roasts/steaks/chops every year, make my summer sausage, vacuum seal, then refreeze. Been doing it for years.
I rarely grind burger when doing the initial butchering. I put mine in boxes of grind meat and do later. Still have two boxes of about 24# left from last year. By doing so I can get a twice as much meat in the freezer. Last year I had a 6 pt bull, wt doe and buck and doe antelope. If I had ground it all then I would have needed a lot more freezer space and keeping it from tasting old would have been tough.
Once ground up all the meat from 2 old black bears after we thawed the steaks out when like you we found them too tough to chew. Worked fine.
I would suggest you grind the steaks and fat when they are just starting to thaw. Will keep the burger moister and actually helps the grinder.
Interesting, I killed a mature bull quite a few years ago. Grilled up a chunk of back strap and ended up tossing it. It was inedible, tough.
Flatten out your burger packs before freezing and you will make more room in freezer.
Absolutely. That thing about not refreezing frozen meat after thawing is a myth. I have a friend who is a food (and restaurant) inspector for the county health department. He went through all the physics of it with me after my freezer crapped out and I discovered it before the meat soured. No problem with grinding leftover meat, been doing it for decades.
Your grinder will work much better with partially frozen or even frozen meat. The grind is better.
Jaquomo, I was a State Health Department Food inspector for >20 years. You are correct.
Curious as to how you're cooking them? Are they still pink inside?
Agree it will be no problem. BUT some times a big tough ole bull is just a big tough ole bull! My buddy shot giant bodied, old 7x8 chasing cows. We ground the elk burger large and then with small holes. Like eating rubber pellets when in tacos or hockey pucks as burgers. Hope your's isn't as old!
I've killed some old bulls and always been able to tender up the steaks, at least the back straps.
Try this. Sprinkle the steaks with Adolfs meat tenderizer, on both sides and let them set for about 30 minutes. You might even sprinkle them and then stab them with a fork to get the Adolfs towards the center. Then marinade them in some Italian salad dressing for at least 6 hours. Coat a pan with olive or avacado oil, get it pretty hot and sear the meat for about 2 minutes on each side. Hot and fast it the key. Keep it pink in the middle. If you over cook it, it will be tough. I also sprinkle with Montreal steak seasoning before I cook. I'm drooling just thinking about it.
Now, if you are dealing with about any steaks but the back strap and tender loin, it will be tough. Bake it or crock pot it. I've never killed a bull that I couldn't make very tasty.
If none of that works for you, just grind it up and add some beef or pork fat. Burger is burger. I don't care how old it was.
Old and tough gets cubed up and canned for stew meat.
Too late now but you also need to age the meat. On the bone if you can but if you have to bone it out to pack it out, age it in a cooler for at least a week. That makes a huge difference.
If you cut steaks off a forked horn just hours after you kill it, even that will be tough. You need to let it expand and retract to break down the tissue. That takes some time.
I've never killed an elk that wasn't good eating.
You can also try a longer cook with a Sous Vide. This can work wonders without over cooking the meat. Lots of old posts on here about it.
A few details. I shot the bull and didn’t even track for two hours. It was cold that morning, mid to upper 20s. I waited for a friend to get to me and we recovered him in about 10 minutes. We packed the meat out bone in. I didn’t debone for about 5 days. Meat was kept on ice for the trip home and while I processed it. Back straps were so tough you couldn’t chew through them. The rest of the steaks are about the same. I sous vide the crap out of them just to make them edible. It’s not worth it when I can grind it and make excellent elk burger.
Not an elk, but I aged an old WT doe in my extra fridge this year and the meat came out amazing. Any deer I kill home from here out will be aged like that. So much more tender. Even the roasts and stew meat.
As far as grinding, have at it. I do my burger like that every year. Never had a problem.