My meat, it will not loaf

Discussion in 'Professional Chefs' started by left4bread, Nov 22, 2012.

  1. left4bread

    left4bread

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    This is excruciatingly embarrassing, just so you know:

    We have had a dinner menu meatloaf that works fine. They are 10oz portion individual free-form loaves.
    It's been a great selling dinner item with good FC% while being sold at an affordable price.
    No problems.

    GM has been pushing for a meatloaf sandwich so I finally got off my butt and decided to make it so.

    I altered the recipe a bit and made batches in loaf pans (9x4). Pulled them out of the oven at 155F. Poured off the liquids and cooled in the walk-in for, well, two days- I was busy with other stuff. They came straight out of the pan no problem and sliced into 5.5oz portions that held together like you would expect from a paté. I held a portion in my hand and shook it gently and it held form. Perfect. I wrote down the procedure and had the prep kitchen manager follow it to work out any bugs.

    There are tons of bugs.

    Tons. For some reason, and I cannot, for the life of me, figure this one out. It will not hold shape (come out of the pan in one piece) regularly. Even with the overnight cooling before being removed from the pan.

    I jumped back into the kitchen to figure out what was wrong. I made it using an altered recipe using two loaf pans. Both loaves stuck to the bottom of the pan. I got them out after complete cooling and one pan was perfect, but the other was crap with a crack/air space that went down the center of the loaf making it... crumbly. Useless.

    Here's the ingredients from memory -ingredient proportions based off of On Cooking : A Textbook of Culinary Fundamentals:
    5lb pork
    5lb beef
    1 cup ketchup
    1 cup bbq sauce (ketchup consistency)
    1/4 cup Worcestershire
    7 whole eggs
    4 slices bread (sandwich loaf, 3/8in standard) fresh breadcrumbs
    onion (sauteed), herbs, spices (insignificant amounts)
    350F low fan until 155F center

    Is there something fundamentally wrong with this?

    Here's a list of what I have tried to fix recipe/procedure:
    • altering recipe (original had 1 less egg, 2 less slices bread, 1 cup more ketchup (it was wet, but it worked that one time I made it...ffs...)
    • lining pans with foil then parchment (so it will remove from the pan easier. NOT.)
    • straining liquids off at different intervals, instead of just at the end (so it's not boiling/steaming while baking)
    • over-mixing, like, in a 33 qt mixer, with paddle attachment, because that is supposed to make it tough, right?... maybe that will make it hold together better? Maybe? Nope. For a couple minutes at speed 2. I beat it. Like it owed me money.
    • considered trying it in a standard non-covection oven, idea dismissed
    • making sure pans were being packed tightly; mixture was pressed firmly into loaf pan
    • covering loosely with foil at different intervals, pointless
    Loaf pans sitting on a half sheet tray, center rack. Rotating at regular intervals.

    On my days off someone tried it brownie style. One-inch layer in a hotel pan. I wouldn't have thought to try that, so props to them for ingenuity, but severe problems with portion control; it does not create an even layer when cooked. And the corners are waste.

    Why is this so wrong? Why am I having problems with such a simple dish?
    I was embarrassed for 2 weeks, but well past my third week of hit and miss miss miss miss miss, I NEED professional help. Please advise.
     
     
  2. kuan

    kuan Moderator Staff Member

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    Are you soaking the bread?
     
  3. berndy

    berndy

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    Double the amount of eggs and triple the amount of bread(soaked) and you should be fine.
     
  4. tsper

    tsper

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    Hire a chef. As with the other answers your ratio of product was way off. To test the next recipe us a smaller batch. But divide into 3.If one is not right you can alter the others to where they need to be. 
     
  5. tjsbeer

    tjsbeer

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    I use 1 egg per pound of meat. And soak the bread crumbs in some milk prior to mixing in.
     
  6. tjsbeer

    tjsbeer

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    Oh and mince your onions.
     
  7. someday

    someday

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    Why not just use the same meatloaf method for the dinner meatloaf for the sandwiches? All you have to do is cut the meat loaf for dinner into smaller portions for a sandwich...?

    Also, your recipe may not have enough fat in it. What type of ground beef are you using? What type of ground pork? 

    Also, 155 seems a little high for me. I understand that you are most likely following USDA guidelines for cooking ground meats, but at that high temp, any fat you have in the meat is most likely going to leak out, giving you a dry, crumbly meatloaf. 

    AS others have mentioned, you could try making a panade, which basically means soaking you bread in milk before you add it to the mix. 

    Again, I don't understand why if you already have a successful meatloaf both in recipe and execution, you just don't simply use that method for sandwiches. Surely a 10oz dinner portion of meatloaf would make 2 5oz portions for sandwiches? 
     
  8. left4bread

    left4bread

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    Well, okay.

    That's all sound advice.

    The bread IS hydrated. Wet mix is added to pork/beef mix.

    Not sure if I mentioned it, but 80/20 fat.

    One egg per pound of meat sounds a bit much, but I'm willing to give it a go.

    How much bread would that include? Panko or fresh bread crumbs?

    The reason why I don't use the 10z dinner portions is that they are free formed shapes. I want a loaf shape whose portions will "fit" the bread when portioned.

    That might sound silly, but with the turn-over we have, the amount of sandwiches we are selling, I'd like for it to be a loaf shape that fits on a loaf shaped bread.

    Otherwise it would be a bunch of half-assed meatloaf cylinder pieces that don't quite fit on a piece of bread. I can't handle that. OCD.

    Now, having said that, I may just start using the dinner portions to make the sandwiches. But I just hate giving up.

    Last batch turned out okay. There was a sort of tunnel running through the middle of both the loaves.

    They held together well enough, but that "tunnel" baffled me. Is all of the fat migrating to the center before cooking out? No. That's stupid.

    What then? Am I pulling it too soon? Maybe I should over-cook it...? No, that doesn't make sense either.

    Oh, wait... These loaves are just too big. Right? 6lb? That's idiotic.

    I'm gonna try 4lb loaves tomorrow *looks at clock*

    errrr, today.

    Thanks for talking me through that one.
     
  9. tjsbeer

    tjsbeer

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    1/4 cup per pound if using dry breadcrumbs.
    1/2 cup per pound if using fresh.
     
  10. brandon odell

    brandon odell

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    I also use 1 egg per pound of meat, and around a 1/6 cups of dry bread crumbs per pound. I don't use ketchup or bbq sauce in meatloaf though. I don't know how that affects it. I also add in around 5 oz of tomato paste per 2 pounds of meat, around 1 tbsp worcestershire and 1 tsp of balsamic vinegar per pound of meat, minced onions, minced fresh garlic, chopped fresh basil, salt and pepper.

    My mixture is somewhat wet, but my meatloaf still has a very "meaty" texture to it as I mix it only enough to distribute the ingredients. I'm a fan of meatloaf that is more "meat" than "loaf". How long you mix your meatloaf will have a big impact on the end texture. I imagine adding more liquid, or ketchup and bbq sauce, would also have an affect on the texture. With the amount of eggs I use, adding ketchup and bbq sauce would make the end mixture too wet though.

    Brandon O'Dell
     
  11. foodnfoto

    foodnfoto

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    I have a hunch that your problem might be coming from the fact that you pour off all the juices and fat when the loaf comes out of the oven. 

    Just as in any roasted meat, you want to let it rest for a while after you pull it from the heat to allow the juices to reabsorb.

    If they're all drained off while hot, the meatloaf will be dry and crumbly.
     
  12. smork

    smork

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    i see a few things going on here.   the bbq sauce is really throwing me off.   something tells me the vinegar is possibly having a reaction with the combonation of eggs and flour and then add your cook temp in there.   the temp may be a bit to high and causing a souflee effect in turn making the tunnels you speak of.   also the draining of the juices needs to be limited so as to allow proper reabsorbtion as was stated in the earlier post.   id start with lower temp and a little longer cooktime and then dont drain so much juiz off.   maybe do 3 seperate pans and drain a little more off each and test that.   seems a little to much perfection is causing a bit of a headache.   meatloaf should be easy,quick and in most cases unique.   i happen to love eating the edges along with a nice meaty juizy bite there also.   its the loaf experience that i look for when i order it.    sangwich or on a plate with tators and greenbeens.
     
  13. cacioepepe

    cacioepepe

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    The recipe sounds jacked, but that doesnt seem to be the answer to your question.  If youre happy with the dinner loaf that holds its shape when 'free formed' why not just pack the meat into the pan you want and then invert it on a sheet tray or hotel pan.  The texture will be what you're used to and the size will be whatever you want it to be.  Is this too simple of a solution...
     
  14. michaelga

    michaelga

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    Mix your salt in with the meat before adding anything else.   It will start to break down the proteins and cause the meat to stick together much better.  (think sausage making)
     
  15. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    I only scanned, so forgive me if I am redundant.

    I am with the "use the dinner loaf" contingent.

    This is a homey, humble food and not a pate.

    If you HAVE to be so an*l about it, then grind the meats together, fairly fine, mix well and pack under pressure (think bologna).

    Of course the "loaf" will be a bit more prominent than the meat, but it is what it is.

    foodnphoto had a sensible point, maybe pour off at halfway and allow it to reabsorb (what it will) the last half.

    mimi
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2012
  16. duckfat

    duckfat

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    Best response in the entire thread. The recipe is a mess and the meat is being drained and left for a few days in the walk in. Oiye.

    I'm not on board with 1 egg per pound but it's not the problem here. As others have noted you need a panada. Either soak the bread crumbs or add dried bread crumbs and milk/cream. Your bread crumb ratio is way off.  Either way with pork you need to cook to 155-160. Just stop draining the fat. You shouldn't need to line your pans with foil. Use non-stick spray.

    And hire a Chef! 

    Dave
     
  17. left4bread

    left4bread

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    Thanks, DuckFat for your insight. And thank you everyone else for you replies.

    I post here on Cheftalk every once in a while when something is stumping me.

    Been in the industry for 25 years. I have issues with the word "chef" so I change my profile to "restaurant manager" and then back again. I'm modest. Forgive me for that, please.

    Simply saying "hire a chef" is a bit glib.

    I'm unfamiliar with making meatloaf because I never worked in a place that actually served meatloaf.

    But I should know... I should know the science of it and that's what embarrasses me that I don't. It embarrasses me that I have to ask.

    And I ask very humbly. Please know that.

    If the mix is "way off" (I agree, I'm just looking for a guide), what would be your mix?

    Any help?

    Do you want to help?
     
  18. chefedb

    chefedb

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    1 egg per pound is good, but 4 slices of bread for 10 pounds of meat is not nearly enough. . 5 pork to 5 beef is to pork dominant and throws fat . try 7 and 3 ratio with about  1 cup of crumbs per pound.  Let it cool in loaf pan so it takes back in some of the moisture thrown out while cooking.. Then turn out onto a  parchment covered  1/2  sheet pan and refrig....  

        Or you may want to try this ,  scale out mix to 3 pounds,   place in plastic wrap and form into  a loaf ,, then wrap in foil and bake. his retains all juices, cooks faster , avoids burning and uneven color.. Let cool while wrapped, then unwrap from foil an refrigerate , pull plastic off when you are going to use .
     
  19. duckfat

    duckfat

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     It's not the science your having difficulty with as much as procedure and ratio. I'd suggest grabbing a copy of Ruhlmans book on ratios for future reference. The quality of the pork grind you are using is going to determine the ratio. As Ed said 50/50 can be too much, but it can be perfectly fine as well. Simply adjust your pork/beef ratio as you need. If you want 1 egg per pound that's a good place to start. Make your own bread crumbs by drying any left over bread or dinner rolls you have. Just toss the bread on a sheet pan and let it air dry until hard and then make your own bread crumbs by processing in the robot coupe. I use at least 3/4 cup of dried bread crumbs per pound of meat. You can always work that up to 1 cup per pound.  Mix by hand if possible. If you use the mixer, use the paddle and pulse the mixer-on-off gently until your ingredients are just mixed. I'd use about three cups of heavy cream or better yet buttermilk. This will be loose when you first mix it. Let it rest before you put the mixture in pans or form loafs.  It will firm up as the bread crumb absorbs the liquid. I would typically get 3-4 loafs from a batch this size. After you fill the pans gently drop them on your work surface a few times to settle the mixture and remove any air pockets or voids. Don't drain the meatloaf it as it cooks or as it cools. Use standard bread pans or if your really OCd (and you have them) use LeCreuset or similar type terrines. That way when you slice you will get nice sandwich size portions.

    10# protein

    7-10 eggs

    7.5-10 Cups (8 cups=2 quarts)

    3 Cups heavy cream

    As far as being glib I think you've been given some very good advice. It was pretty astute (IMO) for another member to suggest cutting your standard portion in half. Unless you have people picking apart sandwiches to check the loaf shape it certainly would have been a far more cost effective and less frustrating solution.  Meatloaf is a simple thing. Use quality ingredients, season well and skip all of the BBQ, Ketchup etc. If it doesn't come out after this...Hire a Chef! /img/vbsmilies/smilies/lol.gif

    Dave
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2012
  20. michaelga

    michaelga

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