Meatloaf is a classic American dish that has been enjoyed by families for generations. Whether you’re cooking for a large family, meal prepping for the week, or just craving a hearty comfort food, meatloaf is a go-to dish. In this article, we’ll go over the basic steps to make a delicious meatloaf, as well as several variations and tips to take it to the next level.
Choosing the right meats and other ingredients
The first step to making a delicious meatloaf is selecting the right meats. A mixture of ground beef and pork is a classic option, but turkey, veal, or lamb can all be used in the recipe. As for other ingredients, bread crumbs, eggs, and milk should be on your list.
Mixing the meatloaf
To mix the meatloaf, combine the meats, bread crumbs, eggs, and milk. Use your hands to mix all the ingredients together until everything is combined. It’s important not to overwork the meat or it can become tough.
Adding spices and seasonings
Spices and seasonings can take your meatloaf from bland to amazing. Some classic flavorings to add include salt, pepper, garlic, and Worcestershire sauce. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different spices, such as cumin or paprika, to give your meatloaf a unique twist.
Shaping the meatloaf
Once your meatloaf mixture is combined, shape it into a loaf on a baking sheet. Make sure the meatloaf is even and compact so it cooks evenly. For a neater presentation, wrap strips of bacon around the meatloaf before cooking.
Cooking the meatloaf in the oven
Preheat your oven to 375°F and bake the meatloaf until it reaches an internal temperature of 160°F. This will usually take about an hour. You can also use a meat thermometer to check its temperature.
Tips for serving and storing the meatloaf
Let the meatloaf rest for five minutes before slicing. You can serve it with ketchup or a gravy of your choice. Meatloaf can be stored in the refrigerator for up to four days or in the freezer for up to three months.
Adding vegetables, such as carrots or onions
Adding vegetables to your meatloaf not only adds nutrition but also adds flavor and texture. Try shredding carrots or finely chopping onions and mixing them into the meatloaf mixture before cooking.
Using different meats, such as turkey or pork
Switching up the meats you use in your meatloaf can give it a new and exciting flavor. Try using ground turkey or pork instead of beef.
Trying different glazes or sauces, such as BBQ or mushroom sauce
Glazes and sauces can add a new dimension to your meatloaf. Try spreading BBQ sauce or mushroom sauce on top of the meatloaf before baking it.
Sharing a beloved recipe from a family member can add sentimental value to your meatloaf. One unique recipe uses oatmeal instead of bread crumbs, which gives the meatloaf a softer texture. Add in diced veggies like carrots or green pepper for a flavor twist.
Using leaner meats or plant-based substitutes
If you’re trying to watch your calorie intake, try using leaner meats or plant-based substitutes, like Beyond Meat or Impossible Meat, which both substitute ground beef in the recipe.
Suggesting low-fat ingredients, such as egg whites or Greek yogurt
Using low-fat ingredients like egg whites or Greek yogurt instead of whole eggs and full-fat milk can give the same delicious flavor and texture, without all the extra calories. Don’t be afraid to get creative with your substitutions.
Offering gluten-free options for those with dietary restrictions
Many people are now gluten intolerant or allergic. To make a gluten-free meatloaf, simply use gluten-free oats or breadcrumbs instead of regular ones.
Making meatloaf in a pressure cooker
Making meatloaf in a pressure cooker is not only quick but also helps retain moisture. Make sure to set it to cook on the pressure cooking setting so the meat cooks evenly.
Utilizing pre-made mixes or frozen veggies
If you’re short on time or prefer convenience, try using pre-made mixes or frozen veggies like carrots, onions, and peppers. These will save you time chopping and preparing the other ingredients.
Providing tips for meal prep and batch cooking
Meal prep and batch cooking is always a good idea to save time. Mix all the ingredients together and freeze in individual portions for a quick and easy meal later.
Meatloaf is a classic American dish with variations across the country. In the South, it’s often served with a sweet tomato sauce, while the Midwest often adds oats in place of breadcrumbs. The Northeast and West Coast often serve it with a thick gravy, while the Pacific Northwest adds salmon and herbs.
Why not give your meatloaf some global flavor? Try adding Asian or Mediterranean spices like ginger, curry, or cumin. You can also experiment with different meats and veggies commonly found in global dishes to create a unique flavor.
Making the perfect meatloaf is all about experimenting with different techniques and ingredients. From slight variations on classic recipes to totally unique creations, there’s no wrong way to make a meatloaf. We hope this guide has given you some inspiration to try something new and delicious.