Failed meatloaf

Discussion in 'Beef' started by boomerangdave, Oct 12, 2014.

  1. Been smoking for more than 25 years but never did meatloaf before. I tried it for the first time yesterday and probably will never make it again. I used a recipe off the internet, figuring most people posting have already perfected their recipe for best results. My wife thought the meatloaf looked too "wet" when I formed it. I put it in the smoker for about 4 hours at 250. I used mesquite chips for the smoke. When the meatloaf got above 165 I removed it from the smoker. When I tried to take it off the grill sheet I used, it fell apart. There were two larger chunks and a bunch of smaller pieces. So much for trying to slice it.

    Well, maybe the taste will make up for the looks. No such luck. Neither my wife nor I could detect any smoke flavor in the meatloaf. What we did taste was the barbeque sauce used to make it. Rather disappointing all the way around. Seems like way to much work for way to little in return.

  2. mjeffcoat

    mjeffcoat Fire Starter

    Sounds like there was not enough binder used. Try a couple of eggs and some Panko bread crumbs and cut down on the bbq sauce a bit and you should be OK.
  3. jckdanls 07

    jckdanls 07 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    don't give up that easy... maybe post the recipe and we can dissect it and see what the culprit was/is ...
  4. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    BoomerangDave, please, please, please give smoked meatloaf another try.  I agree with the above comment about a poor binder. 

    All my meatloaf recipes involve about 4 lbs of meat.  My wife would not allow me to smoke a meatloaf for quite some time.  She's a "super taster" and felt the smoke would ruin one of her favorite "comfort food" dishes.  Finally, when she was out of town, I smoked my one without telling her.  When she got home she sliced a hunk off the loaf in the refrigerator.  She took one bite and said "this is the best meatloaf I've ever eaten."  Now, she'd eaten that same recipe too many times to count before that day.  The smoke took it to another level.

    Here is our current favorite recipe.  Makes great Italian meatballs too you can smoke without the topping.  It looks complicated but it isn't at all.  Dump all the ingredients in a big bowl, mix with a KitchenAid or use a potato masher in a large bowl.  Shape and smoke.  I don't like messes in my smoker so I form the meat in a 9x13 aluminum roaster that has been sprayed with oil. 

    Ray's Italian Meatball Meatloaf

    1/2 large sweet onion finely chopped
    2 cloves garlic, minced, or 1 heaping tsp of chopped garlic in the jar
    1 1/2 tsp salt
    1 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
    1 1/2 cups Herb-seasoned stuffing mix crushed
    14 buttery round crackers, crushed
    1 cup Italian 3 cheese blend grated cheese (Parmesan, Asiago, and Romano)
    1 XLg egg
    1/2 cup sour cream
    1 1/2 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
    1 1/2 cup red table wine (can add more if too dry)
    1 15.5 oz can diced tomatoes with Italian seasoning and juice, juice only in meat, tomatoes in topping
    1 Tbs basil, dried
    1 tsp Cayenne pepper
    1 tsp fennel seed
    1 tsp thyme
    1 tsp marjoram
    1 tsp oregano
    1 1/4 lb ground beef 7-10% fat
    1 1/4 lb ground pork, lean
    1 1/4 lb lean ground turkey with Italian spices.

    Canned tomatoes from above.
    1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
    1 Tbs sugar


    1. Put all the ingredients and spices in the order shown in a KitchenAid bowl except the tomato products.  Open the can of tomatoes and drain the juice into the mixing bowl.  Once thoroughly drained into the bowl, set the tomatoes aside.

    2. Turn the KitchenAid on low with the flat beater and let run for 5-10 minutes until all ingredients are well blended.  Then dump the bowl into a 9x13 aluminum roasting pan and shape the loaf so it is about 2" thick and almost touching the sides, but not quite, leaving about 1/2" space.

    3. Combined the tomatoes, tomato paste, and sugar in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside on the counter.  Do not put it in the refrigerator.

    4. Heat smoker or oven to 325-350 degrees F using any wood you desire in the smoker.

    5. After the meatloaf has been cooking for an hour spread the tomato/paste/sugar topping all over the top of the meatloaf with a spatula and put it back in the smoker or oven.

    6. Smoke or bake uncovered 90-120 minutes. Check for an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.

    Servings: 12
  5. Don't give up on it. When I first did smoke meatloaf. I was hooked.
  6. I think I can solve the part about it falling apart. There were two things, one is that it was formed and placed on a tray and placed in the fridge to firm up and chill. When I put it on the rack, it broke a bit and I tried to reform it. I think that is where it broke apart. We have two larger pieces left that look like we can slice them. So I can probably fix the way it cooked. If you look at most recipes, there are about 3 pounds of meat, a cup of bbq sauce or catsup, 1 cup of binder (breadcrumbs or oats) and 2 eggs. That was what I used. What I can't understand is why the meatloaf did not have any smoke flavor. Isn't that the reason for smoking it???????  I can make meatloaf in the oven that tastes great without all the extra work of smoking it. Gee, I can even put some liquid smoke in for flavor if I want. As far as I am concerned, smoking meatloaf is waste of my time. Unless it adds flavor, I won't try again.

    Oh, by the way, anything with a ton of ingredients will never get thru my kitchen. I am looking to simplify, not go overboard.

    Tonight I am baking sheepshead (a wonderful fish), with roasted delicate squash and a tomato cucumber salad for supper. simple and delicious!

    Boomerangs Dave
  7. Oh, no.....don't give up. When you get it right you will NEVER make a meatloaf in the oven again. You have to make sure the loaf is really formed well before putting on the pit. A little crack can lead to a big split, but it's still delicious. Here's mine...
  8. so how do I get it to taste like it is smoked??? I can get over it falling apart if it tasted like something, I feel like I wasted some great mesquite chips making bland meatloaf. No one has addressed why it was so wimpy tasting. I can make meatloaf in the oven better than this.

    yOh, btw, if a recipe is so long I fall asleep reading it, I will probable never read it. My recipe for smoked beef short ribs is:  short ribs, salt, pepper and smoke. 20 ingredients is way to many for me.

  9. I agree with everyone above, don't give up! I can't explain the lack of smoke flavor.... Usually a relatively short period of good smoke will give you noticeable flavor. Your ingredients in the recipe for flavor were probably OK, it just needed some more egg or bread crumbs. I like to crush up seasoned croutons or cheezits for a binder.
  10. smokin-q

    smokin-q Smoke Blower

    I don't know why you didn't taste the smoke? What kind of smoker are you cooking in? I don't smoke meatloaf any different than if I were doing pork butt. Just do the same as if you were smoking a butt or ribs.

    I smoke in a Cookshack SM0025, I use a 2 oz. chunk of wood, the meatloaf has a great smoke flavor.
  11. jckdanls 07

    jckdanls 07 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    yes.. what kind of smoker are you using ?? did you see or smell smoke when you were cooking it ??
  12. Ok sometimes it is best to step back and re-evaluate things.

    Saturday night my wife packed up the leftovers. Today I had some for lunch. The first thing I noticed was the remaining meatloaf had firmed up pretty well. We could even slice it! When I took it off the grill, it broke into 2 large pieces and some smaller ones. Here is a photo of the meatloaf about an hour before I took it out of the smoker. As you may be able to tell, It was developing a crack right above where the  temperature probe was inserted.  This is where it broke apart.

    I think several things came into play here.

    #1 the mix was too wet and could have used more binder. Note to self: never use rolled oats again. Breadcrumbs are much better.

    #2 I think when I moved the loaf from the cutting board I formed it on, to the rack, I needed to reform it better. Note to self: try putting the loaf in a pan instead.

    #3 make sure you have big enough spatulas to remove meat from grid.

    #4 use less barbeque sauce.

    So today when eating it, I noticed it had a nice smoke ring. Then when I tasted it, it did have smoke flavor. The part we ate Saturday was from the middle of the loaf and the inside/bottom part. It had little smoke flavor. What I had today was much better.
  13. one eyed jack

    one eyed jack Master of the Pit

    That's a nice looking loaf Dave.  I'll bet you nail it next time.
  14. oldschoolbbq

    oldschoolbbq Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Dave , hello  and welcome to the Clan... Don't give - up on the Meatloaf , try a recipe YOU would use and try that... I feel like the addition of BBQ sauce is not conducive to the taste of a good Meatloaf. Like and oven baked on , a bit of sauce on top

    when glazing , leaving the BBQ sauce as a condiment...

    The best Meatloaf I ever had was a simple recipe for an oven  but smoked , fantastic...

    Where did you pick-up the recipe you used , hope not here...[​IMG]

    Anyhow , have a great time , and try another ML... maybe it was just an off day...

    Later . . .
  15. capta1n

    capta1n Newbie

  16. beaman69

    beaman69 Newbie

    I'll have to agree with the majority on this, I'm fixing to mix up a loaf now for my playoff eats. The first time I tried a loaf in the smoker I was a little skeptical, this was several years ago when I first started smoking. At the time I wasn't able to find any tips on the internet about smoking a loaf but it was cheap enough so I took a shot. I found a simple recipe and put a little of my own spin on it and 3 hrs later, I tasted the best loaf I had ever eaten. Not a big fan of ketchup or bbq mixed into the loaf. Just eggs,bread crumbs,onion,peppers, and whatever other seasonings your pallet desires. I mix up a sauce for the glaze and add to the loaf about an he before I pull it to allow some time to caramelize. I will make some notes today and try to take some photos. If the results are worthy I will share.

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