I love meatloaf. I do not know why it is always mentioned with derision on TV, b/c the stuff is very good. Even with my old way of doing it, it was still like a burger in a different form. But I admit that before I watched Cooks Country Kitchen on PBS I was dissatisfied with my meatloafs. I always just used beef in mine, and it always came out of the loaf pan a little greasy and heavy. I never said “wow, this is great”, it was always just an ok thing.
But then I watched a Cooks Country Kitchen episode that had meatloaf on it. If you’ve never watched this show on PBS, or the PBS Create channel, you are missing a great show. They are very scientific about what they do. This isn’t just a recipe show, oh no. They do everything relating to cooking. They test it and change it and do whatever they need to to make it perfect. And when they are teaching you a recipe they tell you why they are doing certain things, which is super helpful. They also do all kinds of product reviews. They will tell you what is the best knife for the money, or what imitation lemon juice is best in what situations. I highly recommend it. Their website is great too, though you have to pay for their expertise. I think it is fair, though.
There were so many differences with how I usually made it that I have to point them out. First, they made a “panade” of saltine crackers. I had never heard the term panade, but it is some kind of starch made into a paste with water or other liquid. This helps bind the loaf without adding weight, and the saltines also give a nice saltiness. The second thing is that they put their meat in a food processor. The difference is incredible. I normally really didn’t like the texture of my old meatloaf. But this is so smooth and light and delicious. The processing part is very important to mix all the meats together and get them to a good consistency. I knew that I was supposed to use half pork (or turkey) and half beef, but I never really did. But it is a necessary change. Another big difference is that you broil it before you put on the glaze and bake it. It makes a great crust on the top, and the glaze sticks really well to the rough surface. Mine isn’t exactly what they did (I tweaked the seasonings and the glaze), but the process is all the same.
I decided to research the history of meatloaf, and Wikipedia is once again so informative. A loaf made of minced meats was first mentioned in the 5th century Roman cookbook Apicius. It spread all over Europe, almost every country has some version of it. If you think about it, many Mediterranean kabobs are also just meat balls/ small meatloaves on a stick. You can add in all kinds of grains or nuts, and you can put in a wide variety of spices. To expand your meatloaf horizons, here is a list of how it is prepared in different countries.
- Danish meatloaf is called forloren hare (i.e. “mock hare”) or “farsbrød” (i.e. “mince-meat bread”) and is usually made from a mixture of ground pork and beef with strips of bacon or cubed bacon on top. It is served with boiled or mashed potatoes and brown sauce sweetened with red currant jelly.
- In Germany, meatloaf is referred to as Hackbraten, Faschierter Braten or Falscher Hase (i.e. “mock hare”). It often has boiled eggs inside.
- Stefania meatloaf (Hungarian: Stefánia szelet) or Stefania slices are a type of Hungarian long meatloaf baked in a loaf pan, with 3 hard boiled eggs in the middle, making decorative white and yellow rings in the middle of the slices.
- In Italy meatloaf is called “polpettone” and it can be filled with eggs or ham and cheese.
- Jewish Cuisine
- In Jewish Cuisine meatloaf is called Klops (Hebrew: קלופס) and can be served cold or hot. It is sometimes filled with whole boiled eggs. The source of the word might be German, Klops, meaning meatball.
- Rolat is a similar dish to the chiefly Arab, though also Persian and South-Asian, kofta. Ground beef is rolled and cooked until brown. It can be cooked with vegetables and various sauces.
- There is a meatloaf dish called embotido made of well seasoned ground pork, minced carrots, sausages, and whole boiled eggs. The meat is molded into a roll with the sausages and hard boiled eggs set in the middle. It is then wrapped in aluminum foil (historically, banana leaves) and steamed for an hour. The cooked embotido may be stored in freezers. It is usually served fried and sliced for breakfast.
- In Romanian Cuisine there is a meatloaf dish called drob, similar to other minced meat dishes in the region like the Bulgarian Rulo Stefani or the Hungarian Stefánia meatloaf, the major difference being that it’s always made with lamb meat (or a mixture of lamb meat and pork or veal) and the hard boiled eggs in the centre of the drob are optional.
- Rulo Stefani (Bulgarian: Руло Стефани). The Bulgarian rulo Stefani meatloaf is similar to the Hungarian Stefánia meatloaf, with hard boiled eggs in the middle.
- Czech Republic
- In the Czech Republic, meatloaf is referred to as sekaná (i. e. “chopped”, adjective). It is optional to put hard boiled eggs, gherkin or wiener wurst inside.
- Greater Middle East
- Kafta or kofta is a similar dish which the mixture can be made into hamburgers and kebabs. It usually has parsley in it.
- Perfect Meatloaf Recipe
- 3/4 c Katchup
- 1/2 c brown sugar
- 1 T lemon juice or wine vinegar (something to cut the sweet).
- 1 t dry mustard
- Directions: combine all in a small sauce pan. Let simmer for a few minutes. Reserve 1/4 of it in a bowl to use at the very end.
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 lb ground pork
- 1 lb ground turkey (I used all three and the recipe is made for it. If you want to do just turkey or just pork, adjust accordingly)
- 1 C crushed saltines
- 1/2 c water
- 2 eggs (the same no matter how much meat)
- 4 Tbsp Worcestershire
- 4 Tbsp soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp garlic powder (you could also use fresh, but I thought the powder would mix in better)
- 1 Tbsp onion powder (“)
- 2 tsp oregano
- 2 tsp corriander
- 2 tsp cumin
- Pepper (no salt, the saltines do that.)
- Pre-heat your broiler.
- Put the glaze on to simmer.
- Put the saltines and water into a food processor. Blend until it is a paste, this is called a panade.
- If you have a large food processor you can do this all in one batch. Mine is only medium sized, so I had to do 2 batches. If you have to do 2 as well, just make sure you take out half of the panade, and put in only half of the seasonings at a time.
- Put the meat in with the panade. Add in the spices and sauces. Blend until almost smooth. Add in the egg and blend.
- Form on a flat cookie sheet (NOT a loaf pan) into a loafish shape (or whatever shape you like).
- Put under the broiler for 15 minutes until nice and crusty on top.
- Take it out. Make sure you have reserved 1/4 of the glaze for later. Spoon 1/2 of the remaining glaze over the meatloaf.
- Bake at 375 for 45 more minutes. In the last 10 minutes of cooking put on the other 1/2 of the glaze to cook in.
- Serve with extra glaze if you like, and enjoy!