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Saltines as binder for delicious, back to basics meatloaf

janniecooks | Apr 30, 201401:28 AM     51

I have tried all the complicated meatloaf versions - Paul Prudhomme's Cajun Meatloaf, Killer Meatloaf, Take No Prisoners Meatloaf, Pretty Good Meatloaf, Cooks Illustrated Meatloaf, and so forth. What all these meatloaves have in common is a long ingredient list which includes lots of different flavors and spicing, and most use breadcrumbs for the binder.

I wanted just the basics this time. No muss, no fuss, just a good, simple loaf like Mom used to make (or would have if there was room in the budget for veal). Last night I made the most delicious meatloaf I've had in years.

Using a pound each of ground beef and ground veal, I added about 3/4 of a sleeve of crushed saltine crackers, two beaten eggs, a can of Campbell's condensed tomato soup, one chopped onion, and salt and pepper. That's it. Combined well with my hands, then packed into a loaf pan to bake for an hour and a half (until internal temp reached just past 160 on my analog thermometer).

As an aside, it took me only a half hour from start to meatloaf in the oven to make this, including cleanup. Yaay! Sometimes simpler is better. I was really surprised how good and tasty my basic loaf was, despite the humble list of ingredients.

I've never used Saltine crackers or tomato soup before in meatloaf, and one (or maybe both) made this the fluffiest and most moist meatloaf ever. I'd guess the Saltines are responsible, but won't know unless I try it without the soup. Maybe try saltines as the binder in meatballs? Don't much like the texture that results from breadcrumbs, so why not?

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