Meatloaf has always been a favorite and with good reasons. It is easy to make and is delicious. It can be used as an entree or a short snack. You can even slice it up and put it into sandwiches, if you want. For many, meatloaf is considered standard comfort food bringing back memories of home-cooked meals and childhood. Time to get cooking. Here are a few tips to get your meatloaf tasting better than it ever has before.
Meatloaf consists of three basic ingredients. Ground meat, a binder like bread crumbs and liquid. When mixing the ingredients, you can either use a masher or a wooden spoon or your bare hands. If you do not want to touch the meat with your hands, you can put the entire mix into a zip-lock bag and mash it that way as well. The most important thing to remember is not to handle the mixture too much. Over mixing could result in a tough meatloaf.
For an extra kick in flavor, you can replace some of the liquids in the meatloaf with wine or dark beer. You could also try vegetable juice or beef broth instead. Also try mixing any kind of sauce like tomato sauce, chilly sauce, soya sauce, mushroom sauce; you could even get adventurous and play around with salad dressings to add to the flavor.
A good way to make sure that the juices in the meatloaf are equally distributed is to let it sit for 15-20 minutes before you serve it. This will make sure that the meatloaf is juicy and tender throughout.
There are a number of ingredients that you can add to your meatloaf to make it tastier, lighter or healthier. In addition, it adds moisture and flavor to the dish. You can add mashed potatoes or grated carrots, chopped mushrooms or garlic. Bread crumbs (seasoned or plain), corn flakes or cooking oats are also options.
A simple way to make your meatloaf less greasy is to shape the loaf in such a way that there is a little space left from the sides of the pan that you are baking it in. Another thing you could do is place a layer of sliced bread on the bottom of the pan to absorb the grease. You can also cook the meatloaf on a rack which allows the extra fatty drippings to drain off.
If you are using bread crumbs as a filler for your meatloaf, remember that soft bread crumbs make for a juicier, more tender meatloaf than dry bread crumbs. To make dry bread crumbs soft, you can soak them in milk before adding them to the mix.
To reduce cracking, you can smooth the top of the meatloaf with a little cold water and if you are having problems with crumbling, let it sit for a few minutes before cutting it. The meat will hold together better.
To save some time, you can make a large portion of the mix and shape and freeze the portion that you do not want to cook immediately. Make sure that you wrap the uncooked portion well before you freeze it. In case you have opted to do this, when you decide to cook that frozen portion do not wait for it to thaw. Instead, place the mix in the oven directly and cook it 11/2-2 times longer than the recipe indicates.
Another tip is to put the mix into muffin trays instead of a regular baking tray. So instead of having to slice the loaf, you have little muffin sized individual portions for your guests or family.
Another great addition with regard to taste and flavor is to add a cup of shredded cheese to your meatloaf mix and grating can be added to the top after the meatloaf has been cooked. You can then put it back into the oven until the cheese has melted thereby giving you that little extra something. Other toppers, you could experiment with, could be the addition of a can of mushroom soup which can be poured over the meatloaf 20-30 minutes before it is done. Or you could even add some bacon on top for some added flavor.
A final tip
When making your meatloaf, keep in mind that this is one of the easiest dishes to play around with and it is difficult to go wrong. So, use your imagination, get creative with your sauces and who knows, you could just end up coming up with your own special recipe!