As a child growing up in South Louisiana with a Mexican mother and a Cajun father, meatloaf wasn’t a dish we saw often. As a matter of fact I don’t think we ever ate it in our home.
It wasn’t till years later while in college that I had an opportunity to taste meatloaf for the first time. I immediately saw the allure. Easy to make, feeds lots of people, and delicious. At least if you like meat and ketchup.
This week we get to make meatloaf as an Easy Freezer Meal. The goal here is to pack as much flavor as we can while retaining a moist and slightly firm texture. One way that I like to get a little extra flavor is to caramelize my vegetables. In addition to that, once I have my vegetable mix made I like to place them in a strainer and drain away all of the excess liquid. I’ll then take this liquid and cook it down to form a caramel umami packed syrup. In the video I explain how to do this step. Next is texture.
We aren’t looking for sausage texture and we don’t want it to completely fall apart when we cut into it. Somewhere in between should be satisfactory. When I mix my meatloaf filling I am gently mixing for about 5-6 minutes. This is long enough to combine all the ingredients and give me that texture I’m looking for. Unfortunately it’s not an exact science so you’ll have to experiment with it and decide for yourself.
The final step to making a delicious meatloaf is the cooking process. This is a beef and pork meatloaf. Our target cooking temp is 155F. If you overcook the meatloaf it will end up dry. Stopping at 150-155F is just about perfect to ensure that your meatloaf will remain juicy. I like using 2 types of thermometers from thermoworks in my kitchen to check temps. One is the instant read thermometer Thermapen MK4 and the other is a DOT Oven Alarm Thermometer that reads the temp of my food while its cooking. Both are incredible, highly accurate, and a great addition to every home kitchen.
Once you hit your target temperature allow the meatloaf to rest for 10 minutes covered before slicing. This will let the juices soak back in.
This recipe makes 3 loaves. Enjoy one for dinner and store the other 2 as easy freezer meals for later..
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Recipe for the Sauce
- 12 oz onion diced
- 8 oz red bell pepper diced
- 1.5 oz garlic minced
- .75 oz kosher salt
- .25 oz black pepper
- 13 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 13 tbsp Red Wine Vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- 38 oz ketchup by weight
- 32 oz roma tomatoes pulsed or crushed canned tomatoes
- 3 pounds ground pork 90/10 if possible You can use turkey as well
- 3 pounds ground beef 80/20 works good
- 2 pounds onions diced small
- 3 large celery stalks diced small
- 1/2 pound red bell pepper diced small
- 1.5 oz garlic minced
- 1 1/2 tsp dried rosemary powder pulse in a coffee grinder if you don't have powder
- 1 1/2 tsp dried thyme powder pulse in a coffee grinder if you don't have powder
- 1/2 cup dried parsley
- 6 large eggs
- 4.5 tsp Dijon mustard
- 3/4 cups ketchup
- 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 cup cream
- 2 cups bread crumbs I used panko
- 1 oz salt
- .25 oz pepper
To Cook The Sauce
- Sautee the onions in a little butter or oil till soft then add the bell peppers. Cook for another 5 minutes. Add the garlic and the salt and pepper and continue to cook for a few minutes longer. Finally add your Worcester sauce, vinegar, ketchup, and pulsed tomatoes,
- Cook on medium heat for another 20-30 minutes. Take off heat and cool (this can be made in advance and refrigerated or portioned in freezer saver bags for later use..
To Cook The Meatloaf
- Cook your celery, onions, and bell peppers till soft and have started to take on a nice golden color (generally 20+ minutes). Add your garlic, parsley, rosemary, and thyme. Cook another 5 minutes. Take off the heat and place the vegetable mix in a strainer and let the juices drain out. Once this happens cook the juices down till them reduce to form a thick caramel like sauce. Be sure to taste it. This will add such a wonderful UMAMI flavor to your meatloaf!!!
- Add your reduced vegetable juice to your vegetables and let it cool. Once it has cooled it is now time to mix it all together..
- In a large bin or bowl combine your beef and pork with your vegetable mix. Mix together. Add the remaining ingredients mix until everything is evenly distributed.
- Portion your meatloaf mix in greased bread pans Pour 1/4 -1/2 cup of sauce over your meatloaf and bake in an oven that's been preheated to 350F. Bake for roughly 1 hour or until the internal center temp of the meatloaf reaches 155F.
- Enjoy for dinner and wrap the other loaves in plastic wrap and place in a food saver bag to enjoy later. If you are going to freeze your meatloaf be sure that you let it completely cool down first. This will let all the juices soak back into the meatloaf. We normally leave it in the fridge or freezer over night and process it the next day.
- To reheat your meatloaf take your whole meatloaf out of the freezer and let it thaw. Place in a greased bread pan and add more sauce (optional). bake at 350f for 45 minutes till warmed through. Cut and serve!!
This recipe has been adapted from Emeril Lagasse’s meatloaf recipe https://www.thedailymeal.com/recipes/emerils-most-kicked-meatloaf-ever-recipe
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