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Old 03-10-2008, 12:19 PM   #1
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My meatloaf dilemma....

I really need help!

Every time I have ever made a meatloaf in my life, the thing falls apart when I go to slice it. I let it sit for 10-15 min. or whatever, same result. Tons of different recipes, same result.

Everything I have ever heard has said not to overmix the loaf, but I think maybe I'm undermixing? How much do you mix a meatloaf? Should I do it by hand or with my stand mixer?

This is the recipe I like. The flavor is good, but the dang thing falls apart. I'd like to try it again tonight, but I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks!
  • 1 cup of finely chopped onion
  • 1 celery rib, chopped fine
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 carrot, chopped fine
  • 1/2 cup of finely chopped scallion (can substitute onion)
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp salt (use 1 1/2 teas if using Italian sausage)
  • 1 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tsp Worscestershire sauce
  • 2/3 cup ketchup
  • 1 1/2 pounds of ground chuck
  • 3/4 pound of spicy ground pork sausage* (or use Italian sausage - 1 sweet, 1 hot)
  • 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 2 large eggs, beaten slightly
  • 1/3 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2 In a large heavy skillet cook the onion, garlic, celery, carrot, and scallion in butter, over moderate heat, stirring, for about 5 minutes. Cover and stir occassionally until the carrots are tender, about 5 more minutes. Stir in salt and pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and 1/3 a cup of ketchup. Cook for 1 more minute.
3 In a large bowl, combine the meats, eggs, bread crumbs, vegetables, and parsley. Form into a loaf and put into a retangular baking pan with 2 inch high sides. Cover loaf with remaining ketchup.
4 Bake meat loaf in oven for 1 hour.

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Old 03-10-2008, 12:26 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by passioncook View Post
I really need help!

Every time I have ever made a meatloaf in my life, the thing falls apart when I go to slice it. I let it sit for 10-15 min. or whatever, same result. Tons of different recipes, same result.

Everything I have ever heard has said not to overmix the loaf, but I think maybe I'm undermixing? How much do you mix a meatloaf? Should I do it by hand or with my stand mixer?

This is the recipe I like. The flavor is good, but the dang thing falls apart. I'd like to try it again tonight, but I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks!
  • 1 cup of finely chopped onion
  • 1 celery rib, chopped fine
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 carrot, chopped fine
  • 1/2 cup of finely chopped scallion (can substitute onion)
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp salt (use 1 1/2 teas if using Italian sausage)
  • 1 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 2 tsp Worscestershire sauce
  • 2/3 cup ketchup
  • 1 1/2 pounds of ground chuck
  • 3/4 pound of spicy ground pork sausage* (or use Italian sausage - 1 sweet, 1 hot)
  • 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 2 large eggs, beaten slightly
  • 1/3 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2 In a large heavy skillet cook the onion, garlic, celery, carrot, and scallion in butter, over moderate heat, stirring, for about 5 minutes. Cover and stir occassionally until the carrots are tender, about 5 more minutes. Stir in salt and pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and 1/3 a cup of ketchup. Cook for 1 more minute.
3 In a large bowl, combine the meats, eggs, bread crumbs, vegetables, and parsley. Form into a loaf and put into a retangular baking pan with 2 inch high sides. Cover loaf with remaining ketchup.
4 Bake meat loaf in oven for 1 hour.
Your mixture might be too wet. For 1 1/2 of ground beef, you might cut the ketchup down to about 1/4 cup, and use one large egg. Pour a little of the ketchup over the top close to the end of cooking time.
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Old 03-10-2008, 12:33 PM   #3
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I would omit the ketchup until the loaf was in the pan and use it as an added topping 3/4 of the way through the cooking time. Also, the egg and breadcrumbs act as teh bider, as does the fat. If the ground beef is too lean, your loaf will not hold together. If the veggie chunks (celelry and onion) are too large, they will keep the loaf from hlding together as well.

The recipe looks sound enough. Just make sure the veggies are finely chopped and the gound beef is not too lean. Milk added to the loaf mixture will also help it hold together, but not too much. About an eigth cup will do the trick.

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Old 03-10-2008, 01:01 PM   #4
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Your recipe sounds very good, I mix mine up in a bowl with my hands till well combined, then back it down in a bread pan. When it comes out, drain the grease off, let rest. Maybe your not mixing it enough.
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Old 03-10-2008, 01:08 PM   #5
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Falling apart means tender in my book. Mine sort of falls apart too.
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Old 03-10-2008, 01:08 PM   #6
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Quote:
Every time I have ever made a meatloaf in my life, the thing falls apart when I go to slice it. I let it sit for 10-15 min. or whatever, same result. Tons of different recipes, same result.
I've never made meatloaf, so I don't have good advice. But there is a recipe on the back of the box of Gerber baby Rice Cereal that includes the cereal in it. I have obviously never tried it, but maybe the rice flakes will help it hold together. The stuff is really cheap to buy, it may be worth a shot to put a little bit in. They taste pretty good too.
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Old 03-10-2008, 01:57 PM   #7
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I don't know - the recipe looks perfect. And the 2 eggs should definitely be a major binding factor. I only use ground turkey & chicken when making meatloaf, so I can't comment on any "grease", since ground poultry meatloaves don't really produce any.

For the amount of meat, though, you could have a bit too much liquid going on. The veggies will still release liquid while cooking in the loaf, & for the ingredients in your recipe, I'd probably be using a solid 3 pounds of meat (but again - that would be poultry). You might want to try increasing the breadcrumbs by another 1/2 cup &/or adding in some rolled oats. They not only add more nutrition & fiber, but bind & help absorb extra liquid.

Do you make this in a loaf pan (aka bread pan) or do you freeform it in a larger baking dish? Maybe if you've been using one method you should try the other just to see if that makes a difference.
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Old 03-10-2008, 02:07 PM   #8
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I think the recipe has too much liquid, and all that pre-cooking would drive me nuts I've been making Betty Crocker's meatloaf for years and it comes out perfect every time. Here's the recipe: Savory Meat Loaf from Betty Crocker

This is slightly different from the recipe I have, in a cookbook I was given in 1981. Use 20% ground beef instead of lean ground beef; actually, I use one pound of ground beef and one-half pound of ground pork in my meatloaf. Mix by hand just till well combined and bake in a loaf pan. Drain the grease when you take it out of the oven, let rest for about 10 minutes, then slice and serve. It will be tender, but should hold together. HTH.
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Old 03-10-2008, 03:16 PM   #9
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Thicker slices
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Old 03-10-2008, 04:32 PM   #10
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Thicker slices might work, and a good meatloaf is delicate. You are the expert on yours.

The recipe sounds great but I will also go with the maybe a tad too much liquid suggestion. Might down the ketchup a tad. What you reserve you can always put on the top.

Actually the number of eggs and the bread crumbs seems about right. If you want you could always try a batch with a bit more.

We always add ground pork to ours and add Parmesan cheese, yeah even the stuff in the box adds a bit.

That is all I have to offer, and it isn't very much. Good luck.
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Old 03-11-2008, 01:19 PM   #11
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Thanks all for your suggestions.

Well, I gave it another go last night. Slightly more successful than previous attempts, but I still wasn't happy with it. I cut back on the ketchup in the loaf and I increased the amount of bread crumbs. And I wizzed the veggies in the food processor until pretty fine. Dang, it did taste good though! One of you guys should try this recipe and tell me how yours turned out! :)
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Old 03-11-2008, 01:29 PM   #12
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Many moons ago my mother was taking a trip to FL to visit her parents. This was the first time she had ever left my dad and us boys alone for more than just a night. She left a number of recipes and dinner ideas so that we would not starve.

One recipe was for meatloaf. The three of us guys made it together following her instructions perfectly. While shaping it dad accidentally dropped the whole thing on the floor. Being the guys that we were we just picked it up, brushed it off, and kept going. The meatloaf was cooked and eaten. It had next to no flavor, but it held together perfectly. Dad was convinced that dropping it on the floor was the key to making sure it did not fall apart. Give it a shot
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Old 03-11-2008, 01:41 PM   #13
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GB - you have been quite "sassy" today! Too much caffeine? Too much sleep?
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Old 03-11-2008, 01:51 PM   #14
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Bucky and Ken seem to be on vacation so someone needed to step up.
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Old 03-11-2008, 01:58 PM   #15
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Well, you certainly are doing a mighty fine job - they should both be very proud of you!
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Old 03-12-2008, 10:57 AM   #16
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I always make my meatloaf in a cast iron dutch oven I make the loaf round so the edges are a few inches from touching the sides of the oven. I think the radient heat from the iron sides helps create a nice thick crust and I end up with a loveley dome shaped meatloaf and they never fall apart even with turkey.

Tonight I am making meatloaf sans DO I will see if it comes as good.
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Old 03-15-2008, 03:56 PM   #17
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I looked at your recipe and it does look a bit too wet. Also, more importantly, only use ONE egg. Two eggs is way overkill and can take your already "wet" loaf and make it near impossible for the excess fats and juices to drain out.

One thing I do is fater I mix my ingredients loosely and pack it into the loaf pan I then invert the pan and let the un-cooked meat loaf fall onto a jelly roll pan lined with parchment paper. I don't cook my meat loaf in a loaf pan at all. This lets all the cumulative grease drip away and allows for a very nice crust. You might try this cooking method with only one egg. This will let some of your excess "wetness" run off through the course of baking. Once the loaf is done baking, tent it and let it rest for about 10 to 15 minutes.
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Old 03-15-2008, 06:19 PM   #18
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I agree about using less liquid and only one egg. I like to use crushed saltines in meatloaf...about 3/4 sleeve for 2 lbs meat.

I don't use a loaf pan, either. I pat the meatloaf out into shape and cook it in a baking dish, covering it with lid or foil for the first 45 minutes. I then remove the cover, put the catsup on top and finish it off. As home chef said above, it gets a nice crust on it that way. It also keeps it from sitting in grease, although if you use good lean ground chuck, it won't have that much.

My meatloaf does crack open sometimes, but it mostly stays together.
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Old 04-22-2008, 09:09 AM   #19
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Passion Cook - the last week at daughters I set out to make meatloaf exactly per your recipe to understand the problem. Just used onion, forgot to get parsley and for meat forgot to get the Italian sausage but did use about 2 1/4 pounds of 80% lean. Oh, rather than ketchup I used tomato sauce which I didn't exactly measure - just made a moist mix that was holding together well. Daughter uses tomato sauce in her's. Otherwise the same. Did tear up the bread by hand for the crumbs.

Might have cooked a little longer - covered with foil - maybe an hour and twenty minutes, can't remember but to about 165 degrees F.

It was a fairly large meatloaf for three adults and two little children - ages 8 and 9. Stayed together nicely and all gone! Wish I could help you in your quest. Did mix well, very well. Good luck!
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Old 04-22-2008, 02:35 PM   #20
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Try using your loaf pan as a mold, inverting the meat loaf onto a broiler pan before cooking it. This will drain off a lot more fat, and crust up the outside. Both of these should prevent it from falling apart when you slice it.
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