Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Grandma's Meatloaf?

Q: My grandmother made great meatloaf. I remember it had a solid texture, unlike the meatloaves today made with store bought ground beef. I think I remember my grandmother saying something about asking her butcher for a special cut? I would love to figure out how to make meatloaves with the solid texture of my grandmother's.


A follower

A: Dear Follower,

After the reading the description of your grandmother’s meatloaf the first thing that came to mind was a gyro. This Greek street food favorite is essentially a lamb meatloaf on a stick. The solid consistency of a gyro allows thin slivers to be cut from the sides of the loaf as it spins vertically around a spinet, without falling apart.

Let’s chew the fat…The stardard makeup for ground lamb is typically 20% fat compared to ground chuck [beef] that can very between 5-20% fat. Since a gyro is mixed very well to incorporate all the seasonings, the fat becomes evenly dispersed. [*Think of a hamburger that is gently patted together, as the fat melts away you are left with visible nooks and crannies.] Using a finer ground of meat would help produce a more compact loaf but the same result can be achieved by increasing your mixing time and good ol’ fashion muscle.

Without getting too personal, how old is your Grandmother? I’m wondering if your grandmother’s recipe developed around the 1930’s. The evolution of today’s modern meatloaf took some major strides during this time. Breadcrumbs were added to many recipes in efforts to stretch a meal and prior to WWII the cost veal was actully lower than beef. If your grandmother was looking to stretch her dollar and her meatloaf she may have used ground veal, which is much more tender despite being learner, along with a higher ratio of. These recipe variations would produce a loaf with a very tender and compact texture.

As far as your grandmother’s made to order ground beef, this was most likely at a time with much more lax sanitization regulation. Many people would insist on watching the butcher ground their meat to ensure they are using a clean grinder and only recognizable cuts of meat.

In conclusion….
-Look for ground chuck with a 20:80 fat to lean meat ratio
-Increase mixing time
-Increase the ratio of bread crumbs to beef


Roomie said...

How do you make a gyro? Perhaps you should practice at home, once your pink eye clears up.

ddskohl said...

Yes, my grandmother probably developed her recipe in the 30's. However, I remember eating it in the 50's and 60's and can't imagine her still using veal rather than ground beef. I am guessing her results were more likely a result of higher fat ratio and increased mixing time. I will try it.
Thanks for you help!

Jayne said...

This is a "Q" but it isn't a Culinary Question. It is a personal question. Do you still have your old tap shoes and if so, what size are they? If they fit me, may I borrow them or buy them to teach myself how to tap dance?

A middle-aged Rockette Wannabe,
Jayne from DuBois

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