Best meatloaf ever

Best meatloaf ever
Just out of the oven: The best meatloaf ever from Lick the Plate. Photo by David Boylan

I love meatloaf and until recently, I made it with the specific intention of loving it even more the next day cold on a sandwich. 

My goal has always been to create a recipe that had me enjoying it as much hot as I do cold and recently came up with a mix of ingredients that did just that.

Before I get into the details of the best meatloaf ever, I wanted to share some fun facts about meatloaf that I discovered through a bit of research. I found that more than 30 countries have their own spin on the dish, which makes it one of the most common dishes in the world.

It gained huge popularity in the United States during the Great Depression when it was a way to stretch the food budget for families by using cheap cuts of meat that was ground and mixed with cereal grains, bread or saltines along with whatever condiments were handy. Because of its consistency, leftovers were a natural on sandwich making it even more functional.

Some preparations from around the world that caught my attention include Pan de Carne from Argentina that is filled with ham, cheese and vegetables. In Austria it’s called Faschierter Braten and wrapped in ham. Chile calls it Asado Aleman and they include boiled eggs in the mix as they do in Cuba where they call it Pulpeta. In the Czech Republic it is referred to it as Sekana and they include gherkins and wienerwurst.

Denmark does it with bacon on the top and their Scandinavian neighbors in Finland base it on their meatball recipe and just shape it differently.

The Italians are also fans of filling it with boiled eggs but will also include ham and cheese. Middle Eastern countries will use lamb in the meat blend along with onions and parsley and cover it with a tahini sauce instead of a tomato-based gravy.

In the Philippines they call it Embotido and take it to a whole other level. The ground pork is mixed with raisins, carrots, boiled eggs and whole sausages in their casing.

The Swedes, not surprisingly, top it with lingonberry jam, which is a great idea for the next-day sandwich. I will wrap up my meatloaf around the world tour in Vietnam, whose big differentiator is that they boil the loaf instead of baking or smoking.

So my big takeaways from this trip around the world via meatloaf is the very common use of boiled eggs layered in the mix. That along with whole sausages in casing placed in the middle and lingonberry jam on the next day sandwich will be incorporated into my next loaf. 

My new favorite recipe is based on the same principles I use with my meatballs, where I use the fattest blend of meats possible and keep it moist with the mix of ingredients I will share with you now.

My first rule is do not use lean meat when making meatloaf. Seek out the fattiest blend of beef you can, usually 80/20. Also, I never really measure any of the ingredients but will give you a basic measurement guide.

Just remember you want to keep the mixture as moist as possible without it affecting the consistency.

Start with one pound of ground beef, one pound of ground pork and three sweet Italian sausage links, squeezed out of casing. Mix that meat blend together in a large bowl with your hands, creating a bowl-like form out of it when fully blended. In the center of that meat bowl add two eggs, half a cup of Progresso Italian bread crumbs (or similar), two raw eggs, a few heavy shakes of Worchestire sauce, ketchup, yellow mustard, a splash of your favorite BBQ sauce, a half cup of whole milk (keep a half handy for more moisture if needed), half a cup of diced sweet onion, three quarters cup of Trader Joe’s Fire Roasted frozen corn or fresh corn cut off the cob.

Mix all the ingredients together with your hands and add more breadcrumbs or milk on an as-needed basis to either dry out or moisten the loaf. Fill a nonstick meatloaf pan and spread your favorite BBQ sauce lightly on top with four or five slices of thick-cut applewood smoked bacon again from Trader Joe’s. In fact, most of these ingredients can be purchased there. Bake the meatloaf for one hour at 350 or until the internal temperature reaches 165-170 degrees. Drain the grease from the loaf pan and let it sit for 10 minutes before you slice it up. If it’s good and moist there is no need for gravy although you can always add some BBQ sauce for more flavor.

I like to put it on a bed of Trader Joe’s frozen mashed potatoes that come in a bag of medallion-shaped nuggets that you simply add some milk and butter to and are delicious. A side of your favorite green veggies and you are good to go.

The next-day best meatloaf ever sandwich should consist of a thick cut piece of meat on your favorite spongy white bread, leftover mashed potatoes, a slice of American cheese, and a bit of that BBQ sauce. On occasion I’ll add some bread and butter pickles or just have a nice one on the side along with some basic old school potato chips.

If you try this recipe or have one you would like to share I’d love to hear from you. Email me at david@artichoke-creative.com.

Lick the Plate has interviewed over 700 chefs, restaurateurs, growers, brewers and culinary personalities over the past 10 years as a column in The Coast News and in Edible San Diego. He can be heard on KSON, FM94/9 and Sunny98.1. More at www.lick-the-plate.com

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