Meatloaf & mashed potatoes brings memories from childhood for many -- it's the ultimate comfort or "womb" food, but sometimes meatloaves are so bland that they have gotten a bad rap! When done well, they can be very rewarding -- who knows how many a spouse was won with superior meatloaf-baking skills?!?
THE MEAT: it needs to be fatty enough -- in fact, I've seen recipes that call for adding bacon grease! I like to use a combination of meats. Sometimes I use both ground beef (on the lean side) plus 1/3 ground pork or even pork sausage in Cajun recipes (pork is less lean, but adds great flavor).
Today I used 1 pound lean organic beef and 1/3 lean ground turkey, but I also added some extra virgin olive oil, because when the meat is too lean, the meatloaf suffers -- I figure healthy olive oil beats bad animal cholesterol any day.
THE CARBS: Next, most recipes call for some sort of bread or else potatoes. Some call for bread crumbs or saltine crackers, others have you soak bread slices in milk. Potatoes can be added in the form of freshly grated raw potatoes, or even instant mashed potato flakes. The idea is to add something to lighten up the heaviness of the meat, and also serve as a repository for the juices and fats!
THE LIQUIDS: Most recipes also call for milk and/or egg -again, that lightens the loaf to keep it from being a meat brick! Many call for tomato juice or ketchup, others for broth, some for wine or beer...
THE VEGGIES: Besides onions, there's a lot you can add: celery, carrots, spinach -- go for it: hide away lots of goodies (what they don't see won't bother them)!
THE SPICES: Here comes the fun part! Salt & pepper, of course, but also Worcester sauce, Tabasco or other chili sauces, etc. Take a look at some of the unusual ingredients in the recipes below!
Today I made Bobotie, a meat loaf recipe from South Africa, and the family actually like it!
I was worried a little, since it's full of unusual ingredients, such as raisins (Son: "Mom, I'm not sure raisins belong in meat loaf?") --but everybody agreed it was a great recipe -- maybe next time I'll chop the raisins into smaller pieces...
Before I give you the recipe, here's what Wikipedia has to say about it's origins:
Bobotie is a South African dish consisting of spiced minced meat baked with an egg-based topping. The recipe probably originates from the Dutch East India Company colonies in Batavia, with the name derived from the Indonesian Bobotok. It is also made with curry powder leaving it with a slight "tang". It is often served with Sambal.
It is a dish of some antiquity: it has certainly been known in the Cape of Good Hope since the 17th century, when it was made with a mixture of mutton and pork. Today it is much more likely to be made with beef or lamb, although pork lends the dish extra moistness. Early recipes incorporated ginger, marjoram and lemon rind; the introduction of curry powder has simplified the recipe somewhat but the basic concept remains the same. Some recipes also call for chopped onions to be added to the mixture. Traditionally, bobotie incorporates dried fruit like raisins or sultanas, but the sweetness that they lend is not to everybody's taste. It is often garnished with walnuts, chutney and bananas.
Although not particularly spicy, the dish incorporates a variety of flavours that can add complexity. For example, the dried fruit (usually apricots and raisins/sultanas) contrasts the curry flavouring very nicely. The texture of the dish is also complex, with the baked egg mixture topping complementing the milk-soaked bread which adds moisture to the dish.
South-African Bobotie (Meatloaf w/ curry and dried fruit)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 medium onions, minced
- 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
- 2 slices thick-sliced bread, soaked in milk
- 1/2 cup raisins, dates, or dried apricots
- 1 teaspoon apricot jam
- 1 tablespoon hot chutney
- 1/2 tablespoon curry powder
- 1/2-1 tablespoon chilisauce (such as Sri Ratcha)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Topping: 1 large egg
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 bay leaf
Saute onions, mix all ingredients, and bake for 1 hr in loaf pan. Pour off juices & set aside (I defat it and later used it for gravy).
Topping: mix reserved milk, egg, salt and pour over loaf w/ bay leaf. Bake another 25 min.
NOTE: this did not work out well for me in the loaf pan because the meat had shrunk! Instead I ended up with more of the milk custard on the side than on top ... Although this custard is part of the authentic recipe, I feel the meatloaf would do just fine without it:)
Here's another version of bobotie (from www.recipesource.com):
3 tbsp. butter or margarineNext, let's look what they do in Greece (from recipesource.com):
1 1/2 c. chopped onion
2 c. fresh bread crumbs
1/2 c. milk
3 lbs. chuck beef, ground 3 times
1 to 2 tbsp. curry powder
2 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. plum jam
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 c. ground blanched almonds
3 bay leaves
2 lemons, sliced
2 pimento strips
Start heating oven to 350 degrees. In a small skillet, melt
butter; add onion and saute until golden. Soak bread crumbs in
milk. Thoroughly combine chuck, egg, onion, curry powder, salt,
plum jam, lemon juice and almonds. Also bread crumb mixture. In
the bottom of a ungreased 10 inch pie plate or round baking dish,
lay bay leaves. On top, arrange the meat mixture, patting it with a
fork. Leave about an inch between mixture and edge of dish or
plate. Bake 1 hour; then drain off any excess liquid. Serve with
lemon slices and leaves arrange as a border around the edge of the
meat: lemon slices touching with leaves placed under slices where
they meet. Take a lemon slice, cut half way, twist it and place on
top with pimento strips running under the twist of the lemon. Serve
1 lb Ground beef chuck
1 lb Ground lamb
2 lg Eggs
1 c Fresh bread crumbs
2 Bunches green onions, minced
4 oz Feta cheese, finely crumbled
1/4 c Minced fresh parsley
1 T Dried mint leaves
2 T Olive oil
1 T Red wine vinegar
2 Garlic cloves, minced
1/2 t Salt
1/4 t Ground black pepper
The following will seem boring after all that...
Last, but not least, here's how Germans make meatloaf:
Falscher Hase (literally "Mock Hare")
1 lb ground beef
1/2 lb each ground pork and veal
2 rolls soaked in milk, excess squeezed out
1 onion, finely chopped
fresh parsley, minced
2 T butter
grated rind of 1/2 lemon
optional spices: basil, nutmeg or ginger
Instead, some german cooks use anchovy paste or ground herring here!
another option: 1 hardboiled egg
flour for dusting meatloaf
3 T butter, lard or bacon grease
approx 1 c water or broth
slice of rye bread
sliced onions and carrots
1/2 c cream
2 t cornstarch dissolved in water
Saute onions in 2 T butter. Mix all ingredients up to spices. Shape loaf and dust with flour. Optionally, place a hardboiled egg in the middle -- looks cool when meatloaf is served!
Heat fat in stew pot or small Dutch oven (mine is cast iron, can go into oven). When hot, gently add meat loaf and brown on all sides, which takes about 8-10 minutes. Add the sliced veggies around the loaf, add enough water to cover the bottom. Cover and bring to boil, then reduce heat & simmer for 1 hr on stove top (alternatively, place in oven). Baste the meat loaf with the pan juices from time to time, adding more water as needed.
After 1 hr, spoon cream over loaf and braise for another 20-30min. If desired, brown it in the oven, uncovered.
Remove meatloaf, and collect pan juices. Defat them, add water if needed, season with salt & pepper, and heat it back up. Bind sauce with cornstarch, and add more cream if desired (but don't bring to a boil!)
NOT JUST MEATLOAVES: I actually enhance hamburgers for the grill by mixing in bread, and adding onions & spices. In fact, Kofta Kebobs, which are Middle Eastern meat patties, have a similar list of ingredients. Here's a link to my post on Kofta Kebobs.