Breaking News: PJM Readers Care Deeply About How to Keep a Meatloaf From Falling Apart

(Image credit: Robert Loescher, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons)

If there’s one thing I learned over the last month, it’s that my readers care a whole lot about meatloaf. I made an offhand remark — “Heard’s claims are falling apart faster than my meatloaf (which I can never get to stay together. What is the secret???)” — and boy did you respond! I thought I would put all your suggestions together in one place for my future reference but also for anyone who might need the answer to this problem.

Barbara said:

Not sure why all the meatloaf stuff, but forget the oatmeal, add 1 C ricotta cheese, 1/4 C fresh grated parm. and 1/4 C plain bread crumbs, store bought is fine and a good cup of fresh chopped parsley and a 1/4 C of tomato sauce and then all the spices you like per pound or so of meatloaf mix. Mix lightly and bake until done. Not rocket science after all. I like fresh garlic, fresh minced onion and dried oregano and salt and pepper in mine……………………but whatever…………………

That sounds pretty good. I would never have thought to add ricotta cheese.

O’rly said, “Meatloaf: 1 tbsp. oatmeal and 1 beaten egg per pound of ground beef.”

My Eyes Are Up Here Old Joe said, “Egg and a little breadcrumbs. Not too much breadcrumbs though or it’ll bake too dry and become meat toast.”

When I asked exactly how many breadcrumbs, the answer I got back was “47.938 grains.”

Then there was this fun exchange: “Use at least 2 parts beef to 1 part pork for a meatloaf. Adding an egg is essential. Pork adds moisture, the egg binds things together.” JunkYardDodge replied, “Exactly. 1 lb ground beef and a half lb Jimmy Dean works wonders.” This continued for a while and people made friends over pickles and meat.

Roger the Deplorable Dreg taught us that not only is oatmeal good for making meatloaf stick together, but it was also used as wallpaper paste. These are tips you may need one day. You’re welcome.

But how much oatmeal will bind the meatloaf just like Mom used to do? The jury is out. Dginga tried. “I wish I had her recipe written down but I don’t. Mom didn’t measure, she just knew how much to put in. Not a lot, just enough to soak up the egg and hold the hamburger together. I think I’d start with 3/4 cup of oatmeal to a pound of ground beef and one egg.”

James Wills showed up with the scientific defense of the egg method. “Eggs are THE secret ingredient to baking and a host of other foods,” he typed. “Heating the proteins causes them to ‘denature’ and cross-link, somewhat like epoxy crosslinks to set. Even if the egg is stirred into the mix and diluted, the individual proteins stiffen up the mix when you heat it. Great stuff.” I have no idea what any of that means, but I always enjoy commenters who are smarter than me.

Tsar of Mom’s Basement won the joke of the day with this one, “add a few egg-whites. (Elmer’s glue works too if you don’t like your neighbors.)”

But did you know you’re supposed to let a meatloaf sit for a while? I didn’t. “And make sure you let it sit for 15 minutes before cutting. It reabsorbs some of the ‘moisture’/grease that has baked out,” said mm.

Perhaps with these tips I might finally make a meatloaf that doesn’t fall apart, but that still wouldn’t solve the real problem: Mr. Fox hates meatloaf. This is probably why I’ve never perfected it. I know he’s going to stare at his plate like he just lost his best friend and shovel bites into his mouth without looking at me. This is not the desired outcome I want at dinner time. But thanks for the tips and the laughs, folks. You’re the best.



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