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Whole-Grain Panade

By Cook's Illustrated Published January 2016

Though most panades are made with white sandwich bread since it imparts little flavor, we wondered if a whole-grain bread would make an acceptable substitute.

Recipes for meatloaf, meatballs, and hamburgers often incorporate a paste of bread and dairy. This mixture, a panade, helps keep the meat moist and also prevents it from tightening up into a dense mass during cooking. Though most panades are made with white sandwich bread since it imparts little flavor, we wondered if a whole-grain bread would make an acceptable substitute.

To find out, we swapped in 100 percent whole-wheat bread and 12-grain bread in batches of meatballs and compared them with a control made with white bread. Tasters detected a faint, yet not unpleasant, wheaty flavor in the whole-wheat meatballs. Twelve-grain meatballs also tasted fine, though the occasional seed detracted slightly from their overall tenderness. Even with these distractions, both types of bread make a respectable alternative to white bread.