How can I im­prove my meat­loaf?


Q: If I drain a can of chick­peas, can I freeze the liq­uid (aquafaba) to use later in desserts?

A: Res­i­dent aquafaba ex­pert Kristin Hartke says it should work fine.

Q: Why are some of my meat­loaves crumbly while oth­ers slice per­fectly? I re­al­ize that my “recipe” varies some each time, but which ingredient de­ter­mines the out­come? My ba­sic for­mula is one pound or so of ground beef (20 per­cent fat), one pound or so of ground pork, one en­ve­lope of onion soup mix, two or three eggs, a half cup of ketchup and bread crumbs so the mix is not vis­i­bly wet. I bake it to an in­ter­nal tem­per­a­ture of 160 de­grees.

A: Here are a few that come to mind:

A suc­cess­ful recipe typ­i­cally calls for meats that aren’t too lean (20 per­cent is a bit low). The bin­der, in your case bread crumbs (fresh or dried?) is of­ten mixed with milk or other liq­uid to make a panade/ mush that helps re­tain mois­ture dur­ing cook­ing - espe­cially if you are start­ing with dried bread crumbs. The ones that don’t have a bread crumb or oats bin­der of­ten will use cooked veg­eta­bles in­stead. The mix needs to be very thor­oughly com­bined.

And I as­sume you give the meat­loaf a brief respite be­fore slic­ing; just like other meats, this rest al­lows juices to be re­dis­tributed. That said, I don’t mind a bit of crum­ble, and most of­ten when I go to slice a crumbly meat loaf af­ter it’s been re­frig­er­ated/ chilled, it cuts neatly. Q: My mother is com­ing to visit. I’m a veg­e­tar­ian; she eats noth­ing but meat­loaf and roasted pork. She doesn’t like eggs as a main ingredient; she also hates grain-based foods. Do you have any din­ner ideas?

A: In this sit­u­a­tion, I of­ten de­fault to pasta. Who doesn’t love pasta? Q: I’m look­ing for a meal that I can drop off at a friend’s home in the re­frig­er­a­tor for their re­turn from a week at a fam­ily fu­neral. I am not a casse­role fan and am draw­ing a blank.

A: Per­son­ally, I’d be the hap­pi­est man on earth if some­one slipped home­made lasagna into my re­frig­er­a­tor af­ter a trau- matic life event. It’s com­fort­ing, it’s hearty and it re­heats even bet­ter.

Q: My prob­lem with lasagna is the ri­cotta or cot­tage cheese. I don’t like the taste or tex­ture. If I were to leave it out, how should I ad­just a recipe?

A: Use Bechamel sauce in­stead.

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