Cabela's Commercial Grade Grinders "Get-er-done" - a field-test review
By: Frank Ross
Recently I was reminded that I had several bags of meat in the freezer that I had promised to turn into jerky, so being the diligent husband that I am I came home with a box containing Cabela's 1 horsepower commercial grade grinder to "get-er-done."
My bride considers power tools a man thing, and is often circumspect about my purchases until she sees how they dwindle the items on my honey-do list. When I pointed out to her that she had a cabinet full of power tools she realized the error of her ways, mostly. Women have lots of power tools, they just don't think of them in the same vein as a 10" compound miter saw, but they're power tools nonetheless.
Product designers have put motors on just about everything we use in our modern society, not because we have a passion for plugging cords into electric outlets; they make our lives easier and simplify difficult jobs. If you've ever had to manhandle the crank of a manual meat grinder you know what I'm talking about.
After thawing the meat to the point that it was workable, I trimmed the excess fat and tissue from 20 pounds of meat and was ready to fire up the big unit.
Setup of the grinder is very simple. The first thing I did was wash all of the parts in hot soapy water to remove any residue from the casting and machining process. When I hefted the grinder head it was immediately obvious that this is one well-built machine. The massive cutter head is precision made and fits together easily. The head slides into the motor housing, aligning the slot at the top, and is held in place with a large setscrew. Then the auger is inserted and the cutter blade and plate attached to the end of the shaft before the locking collar is tightened down. Once the head is assembled, the tray is set on top and you're ready to go.
When I clicked the switch to the forward option, it went through a huge pile of meat like it was tissue paper. This particular model is designed to handle 10-12 pounds of meat per minute. Power to spare would be an understatement of immense proportions. Even though clean up was a snap, it took longer to do than the entire grinding process.
I prefer jerky from ground meat, but the rest of the family prefers strips, so once the grinding was done, I took on phase two, cutting strips. This has been a very arduous task in the past, and has never been done with any consistency, which complicates the drying process. With the optional slicing attachment cutting up 10 pounds of meat was about the easiest job I had ever done, and the result was a large pile of perfect slices, 1/4" thick.
This grinder comes with two different sizes of grinder plates. One is fine, with 4.5mm holes and the other course, with 10mm holes. The plate with larger holes is ideal for making jerky and the smaller version is more suited for grinding ground beef for burgers and meatloaf.
Since this grinder has such a small footprint, you'll want to keep it handy for all types of jobs. Additional attachments are available for pressing meat patties and cubing meat, as well as mixing batches of ground meat. The patty press is made of high-tensile plastic and acrylic and uses the power of the grinder to compress meat into perfect 3/4"-thick patties so fast that you'll wonder just how you ever got along without one. The cubing attachment is great for tenderizing meat into cube steaks or portions for fajitas.
Next on the list for my task at hand was seasoning, and dehydrating. I used Cabela's special jerky seasoning preparation and the results were excellent. This product comes with a shaker bottle, which simplifies spreading the powder and getting it mixed in properly. I made two separate batches; teriyaki and sweet and hot. Both were delicious and the only problem I had is that they are all but consumed in a few days. Now it's time to fire up the grinder again.
Every grinder comes with tubes for stuffing sausage, and that's my next project --sausage and brats. Processing meat, whether from wild game or domestic animals, is a chore whose only compensation is realized when taste buds are tantalized with the just rewards of diligent effort. Now, thanks to Cabela's 1 horsepower commercial grinder, what was once a chore has turned into a celebration of torque that makes a boring job fun.
The only problem I had with this grinder was underestimating. A batch that started out as 20 pounds of wet meat turned into only a couple of pounds of jerky and that's starting to dwindle rapidly. It just tastes too good to save. Now I've got to fire up the grinder again. Oh, man, another session with power tools! What's a guy to do?