Meat Loaf does not necessarily evoke strong feelings of anticipation or excitement in most people. Let’s face it – Meat Loaf gets a lot of bad press. Usually there’s a reminiscence of an unappealing tough and tasteless lump of meat on the plate and then learning that burying it with a covering of ketchup was the only way out.
There is a better way.
Meat loaf can be a savoury and flavourful experience, brought about by using more than one type of ground meat, adding aromatic vegetables and fresh herbs (thyme and sun-dried tomatoes are the stars in this recipe), and by gently combining all ingredients so that a soft, melt-in-your mouth finale unfolds.
Because this recipe makes 2 loaves – enough for 8-10 generous servings – leftovers are inevitable. It can easily be frozen for a treat on another day…
…or … who doesn’t love a meat loaf sandwich?
3 Tips for making a great Meat Loaf:
- Using more than one type of ground meat not only provides more flavour, it prevents the ‘toughness’ factor. Beef and pork are a popular combination; adding some ground veal brings about an even more complex result. Substituting Italian or Chorizo sausage meat instead of ground pork is another variation that is very delicious.
- Lightly sauté the mirepoix vegetables prior to adding them to the meat – this allows them to soften and encourages their flavour to make a subtle, but bold statement – nothing over-powering, everything in perfect harmony.
- Before mixing in the meat and bread crumbs, ensure that all ingredients are thoroughly combined. The meat and crumbs go in last because over-mixing needs to be prevented. Over-mixing is another factor that produces toughness.
Savoury Meat Loaf
Prep Time: 20 minutes Baking Time: 45-60 minutes
Yield: 2 loaves (8-10 servings)
2 tablespoons (30 mL) olive oil
1 large onion, small dice
2 stalks of celery, small dice
2 carrots, finely grated
45-60 mL (3-4 tablespoons) finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes (oil-packed)
3 tablespoons (45 mL) chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon (15 mL) chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon (5 mL) dried oregano
3 large eggs
¼ cup (45 mL) whole milk or light cream
1 ½ tablespoons (25 mL) Dijon mustard
1 ½ tablespoons (25 mL) Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons (10 mL) Kosher or sea salt
1 tablespoon (15 mL) freshly ground black pepper
350 g (12 ounces) ground sirloin
350 g (12 ounces) ground pork
350 g (12 ounces) ground veal
½ – ¾ cup (125 – 185 mL) dry bread crumbs
½ cup (125 mL) mild or medium salsa
1 tablespoon (15 mL) brown sugar
1 tablespoon (15 mL) Dijon mustard
- Preheat oven to 3500F. Prepare 2 loaf pans by spraying with a non-stick spray and/or lining the pans with parchment paper. Foil pans work well for freezing.
- In a large sauté pan, heat oil over low-medium heat. Add onion and celery; sauté for about 5 minutes – or until soft and fragrant (not brown). Add grated carrot and chopped sun-dried tomatoes (add a little of the oil from the tomatoes for extra flavour). Continue to sauté for an extra minute or two. Remove from heat and stir in the chopped herbs. Set aside to cool while the other ingredients are prepared.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk/cream, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper. Stir in the cooled vegetable mixture. Ensure all ingredients are well combined and that the mixture is at room temperature before adding the meat.
- Place all 3 meats in a separate bowl. With a large spatula, large fork, or with your hands, gently – and minimally – mix them together. Add the meat to the vegetable-egg mixture and gently blend. Do not over-mix.
- Fold in bread crumbs – start with ½ cup … if the mixture seems too moist, add a bit more.
- Divide mixture into the prepared pans. Cover tightly with foil and bake for about 45-50 minutes – or until a meat thermometer reads 155-160 degrees F.
- Prepare topping: Combine salsa, brown sugar, and mustard in a small bowl. Spread a thin layer of topping over the meat loaf in each pan. Continue to bake (uncovered) for an extra 10 minutes (internal temperature should reach 165 degrees). Allow meat loaf to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
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