meatloaf

In a world ruled by tastes and choices, food is so prevalent, everyone is an Instagramer and a foodie. As Anthony Bourdain said, “Food transports us on a journey and it should always be unctuous and tell a story.”

With the huge food throwback incorporating the revival of old-school classics — that dinosaur: the meatloaf is getting the spotlight. Embraced and baked in every American household, it’s become the ketchup covered wonder we relish today. It even became a staple during the Depression days to stretch food further as it was an inexpensive and nutritional way of feeding families.

Meatloaf doesn’t have to be a relic dating back to the Titanic. The days of that lackluster brick mom slapped on a plate, where even the dog rebelled eating, are long gone.

It’s a chameleon dish that can be made heroic by embracing any flavor profile and the ultimate in comfort food. Be intrepid and it can yield tremendous complexity with intriguing flavor profiles.

Even for beginners, meatloaf is a no-brainer, but even a simple loaf deserves TLC to become majestic. Follow these steps to ensure a juicy and outstanding outcome.

NOT A PUNCHING BAG — The biggest enemy for meatloaf is overmixing because it makes it a dry log. Also, take the meat out of the fridge an hour before.

LEAN MEATS — Using ground chicken can be a good substitute. However, remember it has little fat so use thigh meat; add a splash of balsamic vinegar to remove gaminess from the poultry

SEASON WITH AUTHORITY — Meatloaf is a blank canvas, and it loves aggressive flavoring, otherwise seasonings get lost. Don’t be afraid to experiment to develop flavors

MOIST LOAF — Soak bread in liquid — most common is milk, although wine or stock are also excellent candidates. Or make a panade, by soaking breadcrumbs instead

NO AL DENTE VEGGIES — Sautéing veggies prior adds a caramelized flavor and a raw veggie inside a meatloaf isn’t palatable. Add raw onion/garlic, but ensure they’re grated or pureed

REFRIGERATE OVERNIGHT — Prepping a day ahead renders amazing results

FREEFORM OR PAN? — Age-old debate. Free form yields for a juicier result. Bake for about 40 to 55 minutes and ensure interior temperature with meat thermometer reads 160F

RESTING — Rest 15 to 20 minutes before cutting. It allows for juices to be redistributed and it renders better slicing

TO GLAZE OR NOT TO GLAZE — If you’re serving it with a sauce, don’t glaze. If a glaze is used, bake meatloaf and then top with glaze 15 minutes before done

So, respect your meatloaf and elevate it to extraordinary splendor and it will become your new best friend, making it the new food star in the kitchen.

Best Meatloaf Recipe Variations

BASIC BINDING INGREDIENTS

Mix these with any meatloaf — 2 eggs lightly beaten; 1 slice bread soaked in milk. Mix with ground meats and other ingredients. Freeform loaf on a foil lined, oiled cookie sheet. Mold loaf and bake at 375F for 45 to 50 minutes until cooked — check interior temperature — 160F — with a meat thermometer. Add glaze 15 minutes before done.

SOUTHWESTERN LOAF

In a bowl mix: ½ pound each ground pork and sirloin; 1 each red bell pepper/ onion chopped (sauteed and cooled); ½ can of jalapeños; 2 TBSP lime zest; ¼ cup of fresh chopped cilantro; 1 TBSP ground cumin, ½ TSP, 1 TSP each mild chili powder/garlic powder and onion powder. Salt/Pepper.

Chipotle glaze: Mix 1 TBSP chipotle powder, ½ cup Ketchup, ¼ cup brown sugar, 1 TBSP Worcestershire Sauce, 1 TSP dried mustard; 2 TBSP soy sauce; 2 TBSP lime juice; 1 TSP honey