If you can make it into a kebab, you can also make it into a loaf.

By Stacey Ballis
November 01, 2019
Photo: Greg DuPree Food Styling: Rishon Hanners Prop Styling: Thom Driver

I love a good ground-meat kebab. Koubideh, kefta, cevapcici, kofte: these highly seasoned ground meats are squished onto skewers and grilled to perfection. So many cultures have their version of these, but as much as I love them, I don’t make them myself.

In addition to needing specialized equipment for the cooking, this style of kebab is fussy cooking that I find is best left to the pros. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t lessons to learn from their flavors. Enriched with onion or garlic or other vegetables, deeply flavored with herbs and spices, made from everything from beef to pork to lamb, these blends lend themselves to more than just grilled kebabs, they make for killer meatloaves.

Yep. If it will kebab? It. Will. Loaf.

There is just one major difference between a ground meat kebab mix and a meatloaf mix and that is the need to bring some lightness and moisture to the loaf. Since kebabs are thin and placed around a flat skewer for grilling they need a bit of hardiness to prevent them being too tender and falling off during cooking. But if you were to just plop a kebab mixture into a loaf shape and bake it? It will rubberize and be unpleasantly dense. You want your meatloaf version to be slightly more tender.

Watch: How To Make Old-Fashioned Meatloaf

The answer? A mixture designed to both lighten and bring moisture. And this is where a panade becomes your hero.

A panade is simply a combination of starch and moisture. It could be fresh bread combined with milk or cream, or breadcrumbs mixed with stock, or cracker crumbs blended with just water. It is made with equal parts starch and liquid and mashed once soaked to ensure smoothness. The starch helps to break up the denseness of the meat mixture and brings the moisture with it. Adding egg to your panade will help your loaf bind together so that it is not so tender that it doesn’t slice.

You can make a panade to suit your recipe. Dairy like milk, cream, buttermilk or yogurt all work well. Stock is a natural to boost meaty flavors. If your mix is super highly seasoned, plain old water will work fine. So too your choice of starch can be a good balance. Small bits of fresh pita or lavash bread can be soaked or toasted and turned into crumbs. Be sure to soak your carbs for at least 10 minutes for a fresh bread product or 20 minutes for dried before adding to your meat mixture.

The rest is just a ratio. For every pound of meat in your kebab mixture, you want ½ cup of panade and one large beaten egg. That’s it. Maybe an extra small pinch of salt and pepper. You can freeform your loaf or plop it in a greased loaf pan. Bake at 375 until a meat thermometer reaches 150, then let rest for at least 20 to 30 minutes before slicing and serving hot.

Even better than the first meal, is to slice and panfry in a small bit of oil to get those crispy edges for amazing sandwiches the next day. You're welcome. 

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