This week Josh and I made meatloaf for the first time. I don't think I have eaten meatloaf since I moved away from home. Sometimes the congealed blood and juices on the side of it really gross me out. We gave it a try and it turned out amazing! And then this happened:
Josh: Yeah you did a really job even though you just mashed the meat into the pan and didn't roll it into a log first.
Me: Ummm...this is how everyone always does this
That when I realized that I learned meatloaf from my mom and he learned meatloaf from his mom, and both moms are excellent cooks and don't cook wrong, therefore both mom's are right. It meant that Josh's idea of meatloaf and my idea of meatloaf were completely different. It was like for one second everything in my world got up, did a little dance, puked, and then got back into place clean and better looking than before. I began to wonder how other people made their meatloaf. The answer is that no one makes their meatloaf the same way! Meatloaf is not meatloaf is not meatloaf.
Here are my findings:
Meatloaf basic ingredients:
1. Ground meat
2. Grain based substance
5. Tomato based sauce
7. Pan to cook with
1. Ground meat - most use hamburger. Some mix hamburger with italian sausage. The amount of hamburger varies depending on size of eaters. I'm thinking ground buffalo would be SOOO tasty.
2. Grain based substance - I thought it was just breadcrumbs. Turns out you can use crumbled ritz crackers, oatmeal (whole or ground up into a powder), flax meal. I added a few non-gluten bread crumbs and tapioca starch to hold it together. I think anything that seems like bread/grain/cracker would work.
3. Vegetable: Most common is chopped onion. I don't know if my mom did this or not, but if she did, they were chopped too small to see. One friends mom would process up carrots and broccoli to mix in so it couldn't be seen. Another friend adds olives and garlic. I bet pickles might be good, or celery bits, or mashed potatoes. Holy Smokers! You could totally grind up leftovers and put them in meat, cook it and call it meatloaf. I need to have kids to try it on!
4. Eggs. Standard. I have no idea how many you are suppose to add per pound of meat. I used one. Most people just say "eggs" as if that implies all there needs to be implied.
5. Tomato based sauce - this goes on top. Most say ketchup or BBQ sauce. I dont' like store BBQ sauce much, so I made my own sauce from tomato paste, using salt, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, etc. My basic pizza sauce only I altered the ratios for my preference. Depending on the spices you choose, I think any sauce would work.
6. Spices: I think most people stick to the basics, salt, pepper, parsely, etc. I used salt, pepper, cumin, savory, and maybe garlic salt. You could go mexican and put mexican spices in it and top it with salsa. You could go indian and fill it with delicious curry and maybe a cucumber yogurt sauce?? or just ketchup again. You could add any range of spices to it to make it amazing. Italian and pizza-y, top the sauce with Cheese.
7. Arrangement and Cooking: Some people roll it into a log first. Some people smash it into a pan. Some people put it in a flat dish and make meat brownies. Some people skip the pan and sit it on a drip catching roasting style pan (do not remember real name). I had it suggested that I put tin foil logs on the bottom of my glass bread pan that will hold the meat up so the liquid drips off!
For Valentine's day make a heart shaped meatcake and cover it in ketchup and use the BBQ sauce to write a nice love note on the top of the cake.
That is the best idea I have ever had.