Meatloaf 101-Hot Tips
The often underrated Meatloaf, this classic entree simply doesn’t get the credit that it deserves. Frankly, if you think that you don’t likemeatloaf, you probably just haven’t enjoyed a great slice of it — yet. Here is a suggestion check list to assist in helping you change your mind about meatloaf. For those global followers, we have perfected these tips over many years of pleasing family and dinner guests. We will be posting great meatloaf sides for your convenience on later posts. Namaste, The Queen Cronista…
So, where can you go wrong when making meatloaf? Despite the easy ingredients and simple technique required, there are actually a handful of common mistakes that can turn a succulent, savory slice of meatloaf into a dry, flavorless slab of dull dishes.
You’re Not Sufficiently Seasoning the Meat
This is crucial. Unseasoned meat, as you can probably guess, doesn’t taste like a whole lot once baked into a loaf, so it’s important to add ample salt in order to bring out the inherent savory flavors of the ground meat. A good rule of thumb is to add one teaspoon of kosher salt per pound of meat. Before you cook the meatloaf, it’s not a bad idea to very quickly saute a small nub of the meat mixture and give it a taste. If you feel like it needs a bit more seasoning, then adjust as necessary before baking the entire loaf. Black pepper is up to your discretion. If you prefer a strong, peppery flavor, then be generous with your cranks of pepper; if not, then just a touch will do the trick. Also garlic powder to taste. Consider ¼ teaspoon per pound. I also like to add about ¼ cup chopped flat leaf parsley to mine.
You’re Using Lean Meats
Think of the difference in flavor between a beefy hamburger and a turkey burger. Sure, they’re both technically burgers, but one is way juicier and more succulent (hint: it’s not the turkey burger). The same logic applies to meatloaf. Making a loaf using ground meats with a lower fat content, like ground turkey or chicken, can be difficult because the lack of fat can lead to a dry texture. To assure a tender, juicy loaf, I’d recommend using ground beef with at least 15% fat content. If you’re feeling fancy, get creative and use a mixture of ground beef with lamb, veal, or pork. However, if you have ground turkey in the fridge and want to make it work, you can always add a tablespoon or two of olive oil or melted butter into your raw meat mixture.
You’re Not Adding a Sweet Component
While it may seem counter-intuitive to add a sweet element to a savory dish like meatloaf, it is essential to the balance of flavors. Whether you use ketchup, brown sugar, white sugar, or maple syrup (or a mixture), you really do want a tablespoons of something sweet to balance out the savory notes. A must try.
You’re Not Adding a Starch
Ultimately, you need to add some sort of starchy component into your meat mixture to give structure to this loaf. Whether you use plain breadcrumbs, Panko breadcrumbs, cooking oats, or torn-and-soaked stale bread, this is going to help keep the meatloaf intact. I use about ¼ cup per pound. In addition to the starch, you’ll also need some eggs in there to help bind everything together. Typically, one large egg per pound of meat should do the trick. If keto conscious I crush pork rinds and use as my substitute starch.
You’re Adding Raw Vegetables to the Meat
Even though a typical meatloaf bakes for upwards of an hour, because the oven temperature is at a moderate 350°F, this isn’t enough heat or time to thoroughly cook down the veggies in the loaf. For this reason, it’s imperative that you saute any veggies and aromatics before mixing them into the meat to slightly soften them and unlock their flavor. Anything from onions to garlic. You may also consider reconstituting dry onion flakes (about a tablespoon).
You’re Slicing Into the Loaf Too Early How are you supposed to wait? Set a timer for 10 minutes, walk away, do whatever it takes to distract yourself, and when you come back, the loaf will be ready for you to cut into. If you slice into the loaf moments after it comes out of the oven, the juices will run out and leave you with an unnecessarily dry loaf. Let it rest.
You’re Not Doubling the Batch
Listen, if you’re going to go through the process of making one meatloaf, you might as well make a second, slice it up, and stuff it in your freezer for future enjoyment. Simply place the slices on a parchment-lined sheet pan until they’ve barely frozen, then transfer them to a plastic zip-top bag and store in the freezer for up to six months. It is so worth it.
You’re Not Making the Most of Your Leftovers
If you have some extra meatloaf kicking around in your fridge, I better see you making meatloaf sandwiches, or crumbling it up and adding it to pasta, soups, and casseroles.