When I was a kid, I was very skeptical of meatloaf. The odd thing was, I don’t ever remember eating it, I just know I had a terrible reaction to the mere suggestion of it. Apparently, before I came around, (my older brothers are 9 and 10 years older than me.) my mom used to make meatloaf pretty regularly. She made it with ground turkey, which sounds awesome to me, but to my imaginative older brothers, the pinkish white color of the turkey looked…like a flesh colored crayon…and they called it”fleshloaf.” To this day, my 30 something yr-old-brothers still refer to meatloaf as fleshloaf… They complained about it so much that she stopped making it, and the discussion about how horrible the skin colored meatloaf was continued. Because of the indoctrination from my older brothers, I assumed this “fleshloaf” entree must be terrible.
It wasn’t until I got married and Taylor suggested it that I started to wonder if maybe there was more to meatloaf. I thought too many people liked it to really be just a tasteless mound of off-white protein.
I made a recipe from Cook’s Illustrated in the crockpot and it was fantastic! Taylor loved it, and since then, I’ve been experimenting with all kinds of fillers and binders and glazes. This is the current version I’ve been making. Occasionally, I’ll add molasses to the glaze, or more bread crumbs and less mushrooms (diced mushrooms actually help to bind the meatloaf!). I’ve used many different kinds of ground meats: lean beef, fatty beef, elk burger, elk sausage, and pork. You can combine two pounds of whatever ground meat you want. I think the flavor is best when one pound is something fatty like sausage, but there’s so much flavor packed into this recipe, you won’t miss the fat if you go lean.
I love that it incorporates over 3 cups of veggies! Add whatever you’ve got in your fridge, but it’s hard to beat the classic combo of carrots, celery, and onions. I usually keep that as the base, and then add in something fun, like mushrooms or red bell peppers.
I’ve also used BBQ sauce instead of ketchup in the glaze. YUM.
Out of the three different types of filler I’ve used, soft bread crumbs, packaged bread crumbs, and panko bread crumbs, panko are by far my favorite! Soft bread crumbs (as in, I just took some bread from the fridge and put in the food processor) made the loaf a bit soggy, and packaged bread crumbs made it have a similar taste and consistency to stuffing (actually love stuffing but meatloaf is meatloaf). The panko bread crumbs gave it enough structure hold together during baking and absorb some of the veggie juices, but were light enough not make it dense.
It’s just amazing how easy it is to make meatloaf. And there are leftovers for days! That means I don’t have to cook dinner every night, which means I get to spend more time making cakes and muffins! Like this Vanilla Cheesecake with Stout Caramel and these Banana Hazelnut Muffins
I’ve heard meatloaf sandwiches are good but I haven’t tried them yet. Sandwiches aren’t really my thing. Plus, I have a hard time picturing meatloaf tasting good cold… Maybe a meatloaf melt!
Anyway, thankfully, this meatloaf is not even a distant cousin to the block of flesh colored crayon I thought “flesh loaf” was when I was a kid. My 8 yr-old self would be shocked to know it’s now one of my favorite weeknight meals.
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 lb ground pork
- ½ cup mushrooms, minced
- 2 carrots, minced
- 2 stalks of celery, minced
- ½ onion, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tbl butter
- 1 tbl fresh thyme (can substitute one tsp dried)
- ¾ cup panko bread crumbs
- ½ cup whole milk
- 1 egg
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp fish sauce (can substitute worcestershire sauce)
- 2 tbl fresh parsley, chopped
- ½ cup ketchup
- 1 tbl mustard
- 1 tsp coconut aminos (can substitute soy sauce)
- salt and pepper to taste
- Pre-heat oven to 375
- Melt butter in a medium saute pan on medium heat. Add mushrooms, carrots, celery, onion, and garlic and cook until softened and most of the liquid has evaporated. 7-10 minutes.
- Take off heat and let cool for 10 minutes.
- In a medium bowl, mix together thyme, bread crumbs, milk, and egg.
- Add beef, pork, cayenne pepper, salt, and fish sauce to milk mixture and combine. I would suggest using your hands to mix. It will take less work in the long run!
- Add to a well greased (or non stick) loaf pan
- In a small bowl, combine all ingredients for the glaze and brush onto the top of the meatloaf with a pastry brush.
- Bake for about 1 hour and 30 minutes, or until internal temperature reads 165 degrees.
- Sprinkle with fresh parsley.
- Let cool for 15 minutes before serving.