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Meatball recipe [moved from Kosher]

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I truly enjoyed the meatballs that I made over pesach. I substituted cake meal for the breadcrumbs that the recipe called for and it was still yummy. Now that pesach is over and I am on Atkins mode, I ask the following question.

Just what is the role of breadcrumbs or cake meal/matzo meal in the recipe. Is there a low carb alternative or can I simply leave this out of the recipe without impacting the dish?

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  1. I never put breadcrumbs or matzah meal in my meatballs; I do put in an egg, though.

    1. Bread/milk/egg mixture in meatballs/meatball acts as a binder ingredients and holders of moisture to prevent dryness in the finished product. Read up on "panade" to learn more.

      1. There's a thread on the Home Cooking board
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6138...

        5 Replies
        1. re: serenarobin

          I see that in the thread that is linked, they recommend bread or breadcrumbs soaked in milk. What can the kosher cook substitute for the milk? Is it necessary to use a pareve milk substitute, or is water o.k.?

          1. re: Bzdhkap

            Coconut milk.

            1. re: embee

              Or water or broth.

          2. re: serenarobin

            Excellent! So I gather by looking at the thread that if I use 1-2 slices of the carb reduced bread soaked in water with an egg should do the trick.

            Many thanks!

            1. re: MartyB

              That should do it - I also finely dice either onions or cabbage to add moisture to the meatball

          3. This well known meatball recipe uses water:
            http://www.wchstv.com/gmarecipes/fran...

            1 Reply
            1. re: Ora

              Maybe this recipe doesn't need the milk since it has cheese.

            2. i never put breadcrumbs in my meatballs, they are always delicious. could mix some herbs in with the meat (like parsley), chopped onion too.

              6 Replies
              1. re: ddelicious

                I said yesterday that I don't use breadcrumbs, just egg. And I will say that everyone loves my meatballs!

                1. re: queenscook

                  Are your meatballs soft and spongy or hard and dense. From my read that is the purpose for the breadcrumbs. I would obviously prefer to not to have to include it.

                  1. re: MartyB

                    They are definitely not soft and spongy, but they're not rocks either. I have a couple of different sauces I use, so they're not exactly the ones I grew up eating, but I like meatballs the way I always had them growing up--firm, the way my mother made them.

                    1. re: queenscook

                      Well my solution will be very simple. I will split the meat into two chunks, one will have a slice of bread mixed in the other won't.

                    2. re: MartyB

                      they are soft but not spongy. i like to taste the meat and i find breadcrumbs or matzoh meal hide the flavour.

                      1. re: ddelicious

                        Well, I made it this time without the breadcrumbs/cake meal and found that I liked it better with the cake meal. Tasted more like hamburgers in sauce rather than meatballs in sauce.. I made also two changes to the recipe that I used but doubt that they were the cause. (1) Used Heinz One Carb ketchup vs the regular one and (2)Used 1/4 cup Splenda in the sauce instead of 1/4 cup sugar. I will try it with breadcrumbs (Wonder light white bread dried out and crushed) next time and see.

                2. Fresh breadcrumbs, soaked in liquid, and egg yolks only. Fresh breadcrumbs are far far better than any dried breadcrumbs. A meatball without the bread will be much heavier and less pleasant. The egg whites make for a gummier texture, so omit them.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Karl S

                    So are you saying that using the bread directly soaked in liquid would be better?

                    1. re: MartyB

                      Trim the crusts from a soft bread (challa is a fine, if pricey, choice), soak it in liquid, and knead it to a paste (panade). Then incorporate it into the meat.

                      When I'm making kosher meatballs, I use coconut milk. (Since this topic is now in Home Cooking, I'll add that half & half is also a good choice.) You can also use stock, wine, or any other liquid, but a creamy liquid works best.

                      If you don't want to mess around with the bread slices, fresh breadcrumbs are a good second choice.

                      Eggs aren't necessary, but I agree with the suggestion to use just the yolks if you do want to add egg.

                      I can't suggest specific amounts of bread and liquid, since it depends on the meat(s) you use and the fat content of the meat(s). A beef-veal or beef-chicken mixture will be different from all beef. You pretty much need to learn through experience what produces a texture you like.

                      It's the panade that differentiates "meatballs" or a "meatloaf" from hamburger balls/hamburger loaf.

                      1. re: embee

                        How many slices would you suggest for 2 pounds of ground beef (neck & skirt)? I know the recipe called for 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs.

                        As to the messiness, I have fallen in love with latex/vinyl disposable gloves and can deal with any messiness, especially when we are talking about making meatballs/meatloaf and need to get down and dirty mixing everything together.

                        1. re: MartyB

                          I added an edit covering that - see above. If you want a start point, you might try, say, three "standard" slices. But you will ultimately come up with your own formula.

                          The idea is to produce something that is soft to the tooth but doesn't crumble. It should taste like (for momentary lack of a more suitable term) a "Gestalt" rather than like a hamburger. It should not be dry.

                          1. re: embee

                            Made meatballs, this time I added 3 slices of low carb bread and that made the diffference. Now it tastes like meatballs rather than hamburgers.