The first time I made meatloaf, Dave swore up and down that he didn’t like meatloaf – and then, of course, he was pleasantly surprised by how good it was. The second time I made it (years later), he was still pretty sure he didn’t like meatloaf, but then, of course, enjoyed it. This time when I asked him beforehand whether he liked meatloaf, he said he wasn’t sure. We’re making progress.
I understand that the idea of meatloaf can be unappetizing. “Meat” and “loaf” are words that shouldn’t necessarily be used together unless you’re getting out a loaf of bread to make sandwiches. But, really, meatloaf is little more than seasoned ground meat, with some sort of starch added to help the mixture hold on to moisture while it cooks.
Generally, adding bread (or oatmeal, etc.) to meat, while improving the texture, will dilute the flavor. In this case, meaty flavor is added back in with nearly every trick in the book – mushrooms, soy sauce, tomato paste. The result is a sliceable loaf of meat that tastes plenty beefy without being tough. Hopefully the third time is a charm, and Dave will remember how good this was next time I make meatloaf.
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Meatier Meatloaf (from Cooks Illustrated)
I only made a half recipe.
There’s no salt in this recipe, and I think it would be better with about ½ teaspoon (for a whole recipe).
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 onion, chopped fine
6 ounces white mushrooms sliced and trimmed
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3 tablespoons plus ½ cup chicken broth
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin
½ slice hearty white bread, torn into 1-inch pieces
⅓ cup minced fresh parsley
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
¾ teaspoon peppers
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 pound ground pork
1 pound 85 percent lean ground beef
½ cup ketchup
¼ cup cider vinegar
3 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon hot sauce
½ teaspoon ground coriander
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Fold heavy-duty aluminum foil to form 9 by 5 inch rectangle. Center foil on wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet. Poke holes in foil with skewer (about ½ inch apart). Spray foil with vegetable oil spray.
2. Melt butter in 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add onion and mushrooms; cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 10 to 12 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until browned, about 3 minutes. Reduce heat to low; add 3 tablespoons broth and garlic; cook, scraping bottom of pan to loosen any browned bits, until thickened, about 1 minute. Transfer mushroom mixture to a large bowl to cool.
3. Whisk eggs, remaining ½ cup broth, and soy sauce together in bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over egg mixture and let sit until gelatin softens, about 5 minutes.
4. Pulse bread in food processor until finely ground, 5 to 10 pulses. Add gelatin mixture, cooled mushroom mixture, parsley, mustard, pepper, and thyme to bread crumbs and pulse until mushrooms are finely ground, about 10 pulses, scraping down bowl as needed. Transfer bread-crumb mixture to large bowl. Add pork and beef and mix with hands to thoroughly combine.
5. Transfer meat mixture to foil rectangle and shape into 9 by 5-inch loaf using wet hands. Bake meatloaf until it registers 155 to 160 degrees, 75 to 90 minutes. Remove from oven and turn on broiler.
6. While meatloaf cooks, bring all the ingredients for the glaze to simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thick and syrupy, about 5 minutes.
7. Spread half of glaze evenly over cooked meatloaf; place under broiler and cook until glaze bubbles and begins to brown at edges, about 2 minutes. Remove meatloaf from oven and spread evenly with remaining glaze; return to broiler and cook until glaze is again bubbling and beginning to brown, about 2 minutes longer. Let meatloaf cool for 20 minutes before slicing and serving.