French Grind

Rustic French Meatloaf using a hand grinder

Why would anyone want to hand-grind their own meat for a meatloaf? A fair question. For one thing, I have a hand-crank meat grinder — Silex No Clamp Chopper ca. 1959. When Carol’s grandmother died, it went to Carol’s mom’s basement where it lived until Carol claimed it. That was sometime in the seventies, but we gave it little use until recently when I rediscovered ham loaf.

I am an avid maker of meatloaf, meatballs and ham loaf. It’s common to buy ground beef or pork, turkey or chicken, even veal from your butcher, and that works fine for meatballs and meatloaf or most other ground meat preparations. For ham, it is a different matter. Ground ham is not readily available, so you ask your butcher to grind your ham, or grind it yourself. I learned that the ham I grind myself has a more coarse texture than that ground by the butcher. I like that much better. Why not try the hand-grinder for a meatloaf called “rustic” made with pork and veal? Why indeed; I got some pork and veal stew meat and went to work.


To demonstrate the swell meat grinder and some other handy kitchen tools, I selected a recipe from the April, 2009 Gourmet Magazine: Rustic French Meatloaf, using veal, pork, chicken livers and your usual meatloaf things. I alternated pieces of pork and veal… presto, instant mixing.


Here’s the grinder broken down. Pretty simple… the auger pushes the meat through the holes in the extruder and the meat is cut by the propeller shaped blade. I love the weight and the hefty feel of this grinder, and it is extremely easy to clean.


Besides the meat, this meatloaf has pistachios, dried cherries (the recipe called for dried prunes, but I had the cherries, so…), bread crumbs soaked in milk, onions, eggs and parsley.


I like to make my own breadcrumbs, which is so easy. I cut the crusts off of leftover French or Italian bread, slice and freeze the bread. When I need crumbs, I simply use my Braun Multimix, a wonderful tool when cooking for one or two; and so much easier to clean than a Cuisinart. I used this as well to puree chicken livers for this recipe. There’s no picture of the chicken livers… not a pretty sight.


Then, it’s a matter of mixing everything together and it’s ready for the oven. I’m baking it in a Le Creuset enameled cast iron baking dish. Lovely.


Meatloaf out of the oven and resting, I fried some potatoes to go with.m_beet_blood

While the meatloaf was cooking, I made a salad. Cube roasted beets (I like to always have some roasted beets on hand), peel and section a blood orange… the colors are gorgeous.


Add crumbled feta cheese, toasted pine nuts and 15 year-old Balsamic vinegar we got it as a gift from a friend returning from Italy.




There you have it… served with a big ol’ French Rhone wine. How rustic is that?

Rustic French Meatloaf
Serves4 * Active time:20 min, Start to finish:1 1/4 hr [In your dreams]
April 2009 Gourmet Magazine. [Cooks notes in body and at end.]

This comforting dish marries the simplicity of meatloaf with the flavor and depth of a French pâté. Leftover slices naturally make terrific sandwiches, but they’re also wonderful panfried in olive oil. View more of our favorite recipes from this issue.

* 1 cup fine fresh bread crumbs (preferably from a rustic loaf)
* 1/2 cup whole milk [used half n half]
* 3/4 cup finely chopped onion
* 3 large garlic cloves, minced
* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 1/2 lb chicken livers, separated into lobes, trimmed, and rinsed
* 3/4 lb ground pork
* 3/4 lb ground veal
* 1/4 cup chopped prunes [used dried cherries]
* 1/4 cup shelled pistachios (optional)
* 2 teaspoons thyme leaves
* 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
* 1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

Accompaniment: Dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 475ºF with rack in middle.
Soak bread crumbs in milk in a small bowl.
Cook onion, garlic, and 1/4 tsp each of salt and pepper in oil in a small skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Cool slightly.
Purée livers in a blender, then transfer to a large bowl. Add pork, veal, prunes, pistachios (if using), thyme, eggs, bread-crumb mixture, onion mixture, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper and gently mix with your hands until just combined.
Transfer meatloaf mixture to an 8 1/2- by 4 1/2-inch glass loaf pan (see cooks’ note, below) and bake, covered with foil, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into center registers 165ºF, 50 to 55 minutes. Let rest 5 minutes. Cover top of meatloaf with parsley before slicing.

Cooks’ note: You can use a metal loaf pan, but the meatloaf will take about 15 minutes longer to cook. [Cooked in Le Creuset loaf pan. At 50 minutes, temps 130. Added 15 minutes, temps 171.]

4 thoughts on “French Grind

  1. We have an old grinder that i think started life at Grandma Herron’s. Not sure. Anyway, we have used it for ham loaf as well, but not for decades. Gotta go looking for that damn thing again…


  2. If you’re ever in a mood to make a real pate, I’d highly recommend the Pork Liver Terrine found in Paul Bertolli’s “Cooking By Hand.” You would need two different sizes of grinder plates, though — I only see one in your picture. Is there a larger one in the box?


  3. hi there! love your grinder. does it have suction cups on its feet? i have the kitchenaid attachment which i got after i realized i didn’t have anywhere to clamp or screw in a grinder. but suction feet would have been perfect!


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