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.
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:
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.