One simple way to keep your ground meat based dishes moist, tender and flavorful is to add a Panade. Learn how to make one here.
Have you ever eaten a hamburger or meatball that tasted dry and inedible like hockey pucks? Recipes that use ground meat can be spruced up with just a few ingredient tricks to turn dull dishes into ones people crave!
Whenever you bake, grill or braise meat that need to be cooked well done, you run the risk of losing juiciness and flavor. One simple way to keep ground meat dishes moist and flavorful is to add a Panade.
What is a Panade?
A panade is a mixture of starch and liquid that is added to ground meat. Any combination of starch (bread, panko, crackers) and liquids (milk, buttermilk, yogurt, stock, water) can be used. Varying the combination of panade ingredients and incorporating aromatics and spices can add more or less flavor depending on your taste preference.
Basic Panade Guide:
1 pound meat + 1 large egg + 1/2 cup panade
- Cut the fresh bread into 1/2 inch pieces and allow 1 cup bread cubes to soak for at least 10 minutes in enough liquid (milk, buttermilk, stock) to cover the bread. Mash with a spoon to make sure there are no dry spots, then remove 1/2 cup of the the soaked bread and add to your meat mixture.
- You may want to use less panade (about 1/4 cup) for burgers, more for meatballs and meatloaf (1/2 cup).
- Experiment with the panade amount until the desired texture is achieved.
You can taste how adding a panade makes a recipe more moist and tender by trying my Italian Meatball Recipe.
What happens when ground meat is cooked without a Panade?
When the muscle fibers of meat proteins are cut or ground into smaller pieces, this causes sticky soluble proteins to be released which can then affect the texture of the meat. After the meat is mixed and cooked the proteins tighten and contract, causing significant amounts of moisture to be squeezed out. If a panade is not added to the mixture, then this often results in ground meat dishes reducing in size and becoming dry or tough.
What is the Function of a Panade?
1) Adds moisture directly to the ground meat mixture. Liquids like milk, buttermilk, yogurt, stocks, or just plain water can be added.
2) The starch in the bread absorbs the liquid in the mixture and creates a starch paste. The paste coats the proteins and sets into a gel when cooked, preventing the proteins from linking too tightly together and squeezing out moisture. This keeps the shape of the ground meat while moisture is retained.
Source: The Science of Good Cooking