Thanks DIsco. Another post, working towards my goal..
I am on binder overload now. LOL
Dang! Nice job on the meatloaf C Farmer! Seeing one always makes me want to make one. Pure comfort food! Ketchup, BTW, is essential for life.......and meatloaf!
I use both Ritz crackers and any seasoned stuffing mix I have in the cabinet as a binder. Pretty much my go-to binder mix on any meatloaf I make. Run 'em in the food processed or put them in a Ziplock and smash. Boxed seasoned rice mixes work well too but only if I don't have the Ritz crackers and seasoned stuffing.
Depending what flavor profile I'm going for I've used everything from red wine to milk to apple cider for moisture. I just throw everything in a stand mixer, add liquid get the moisture content I want, and let it mix 10 minutes until the meat, binders, spices, onions, veggies, liquid, and everything is blended. Dump it in a loaf pan for a small meatloaf, a 9x13 roaster for a large one (3-4 lbs of meat - what I usually make), leaving about 1/2" space around all sides. If you leave the space around the sides there's no need to poke holes in the pan. Makes it a little taller. Just use a stiff spatula to shape it. Then I coat the top of the meatloaf with a mixture of tomato paste, canned diced tomatoes, and a little sugar, our standard meat loaf icing. Pop it in the smoker or oven at 325-350 until IT is 165. Usually done in 90 minutes or a little less.
Hickory, apple, pecan, and cherry all work nicely. Tried mesquite once because that's all I had on hand and it had a flavor that just didn't work with the Italian meatball meatloaf I was making. I knew better but tried it anyway. We still ate every molecule.
BTW, my wife and I will go through that 3-4 lb meatloaf in two, two and a half days because we eat sandwiches for lunch (always with ketchup) and slices for dinner. I'd never even thought about smoking one until I saw them here in SMF. I've done 6-8 in the last six months. Two ended up in the oven because I didn't have time in the evening to fire up the smoker, but the rest were smoked on weekends.
Good looking meatloaf you have there and like the smoker's attire.
I use rolled oats as well, a guy at work uses corn flakes. I like to run my veggies, peppers, onions, celery, carrots through the ninja chopper to almost liquify them, it seems to help make for a moist meatloaf. I also use eggs but I love eggs.