Meatballs and frikadelles: to mix or not to overmix?

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My discovery of meatball-making started with Italian meatballs. I was taught to incorporate all ingredients together (meat, seasonings, cheese, breadcrumbs...) with the least possible amount of mixing, to not make the meat too compact. Great. 

Then I discovered Vietnamese meatballs, the kind you can find in Pho. I've never made those myself, mostly because I don't like them, but they seem completely overmixed to death, until the meat becomes the consistency of hard rubber. I'm sure that's what Vietnamese are after, but I don't like that texture myself. 

Now I'm making Danish frikadelles, which are little ground pork patties made from a rather liquidy/sticky meat mix (vs the dry meat mix used for Italian meatballs). The recipe (http://www.copenhagenet.dk/CPH-Map/CPH-Recipes-Frikadelle-03-2011.asp) states: 

The "Frikadelle" mixture gets better the more you mix the ingredients together. It is best if you leave the mixture to rest at least an hour in the fridge - before you mix it again.  

However this time I'm not sure why? What is the goal of mixing so much? What happens when you mix meat (along with milk, breadcrumb, flour, eggs and seasonings)? What happens when you mix it again after a resting period in the fridge? 

 
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My guess is you get an even distribution of your ingredients. I recall the same advice to make burgers, with the argument of developing some proteins,  but thats really unnecesary in my experience.
 
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Are you going to trust a source that tells you to fry in margarine? Frankly these seem similar to Swedish meatballs. Perhaps the benefit of over mixing that they are referring to has more to do with texture than taste since these ingredients do not develop more flavor by overnixing. Maybe the Danes like the texture of tough meatballs just like the Vietnamese do.
 
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I mix my meatballs a lot ... I've never had any problems ... or leftovers.
 
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The pix made me gag when it loaded.

Almost looks like high mag of bone cells or smooth muscle tissue.

I use chuck and mix it up pretty good but nowhere near that much.

Then bake off the grease and finish in the gravy.

mimi
 
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I use short ribs for making hot dogs. The short ribs are ground then put with spices and liquid to emulsify. When you do this it makes the meat more sticky because the fats are combining with the meat and liquid. This would make the meatball more compacted. Just think of how the mixture looks inside a hot dog. The look of a Sausage is different because it's not in all cases emulsified. In other worlds the fats break down during cooking. 

Hot dog mix


Sausage mix

 
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5,705
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I use short ribs for making hot dogs. The short ribs are ground then put with spices and liquid to emulsify. When you do this it makes the meat more sticky because the fats are combining with the meat and liquid. This would make the meatball more compacted. Just think of how the mixture looks inside a hot dog. The look of a Sausage is different because it's not in all cases emulsified. In other worlds the fats break down during cooking. 
Thanks, I suppose that's it, the frikadelles need to be somewhat emulsified... plus unlike with meatballs or burgers, with frikadelles, you do add a fair amount of liquid (milk). Very interesting point, thanks for adding that!
 
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It gives the bread crumbs a better chance of absorbing liquid so that they can help the mixture bind.
 

cerise

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Looks too paste-y to me. The meat(?) needs a binder to hold together. Puts me in mind of frikadellen - a flat meat patty fried in oil.
 

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