Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Meatloaf Tips and Cooking Hints

Today is meatloaf for dinner, yum! I often use these helpful tips.

Meatloaf Tips and Hints

• For a firmer texture to your meatloaf, use ground meat that has been run through the grinder at least 2 or 3 times.

• The higher the grade of ground meat, the less fat and shrinkage will result. However, keep in mind that less fat means less flavor and moistness.

Ground chuck is the grade of choice for the most flavor.

• Do not overdo the bread crumbs. An excess can make the loaf spongy.

• Topping the loaf with bacon strips or salt pork adds moisture, flavor and tenderness. Those watching fat content might want to use turkey bacon or other low-fat alternatives.

• Let meatloaf stand about 20 minutes or longer after removal from the oven before serving. This helps it set and makes it easier to slice.

• Add tomato sauce to the meat mixture for added moisture.

• Do not over-knead the mixture or texture will be lost. Mix just enough to combine the ingredients.

• In place of bread crumbs, add a mashed wet slice of white bread and a tablespoon of salad oil.

• If you like using the beef/pork/veal method, feel free to experiment with different ratios as long as the total weight of the meat remains the same in volume.

• For individual servings that bake quickly, mound meat mixture into greased muffin tins, which should be done in about 20 minutes.

• Meatloaf baked in a standard 4-inch by 4-inch by 8-inch loaf pan is baked at 350 degrees F. for 1 to 1-1/2 hours.

• Use about 1/2 cup filler per 1 pound of meat. This filler can be bread crumbs, mashed moist bread, oat bran, grated potato, grated carrot, mashed potatoes or wherever your experiments take you.

• Add a cup of grated cheese to the meatloaf mixture before baking, and another 1/2 cup over the top of the loaf during the last 15 minutes of baking.

• Add 1/3 cup of vegetable juice, wine, beef broth, or beer to the mixture for added flavor.

• Soft bread crumbs make a more tender, juicier loaf than dry crumbs. You can briefly soak dry crumbs in a bit of milk before adding.

• One cup of finely grated potato or carrot (or a mixture of both) can be added to the loaf in place of 1/4 pound of the meat to reduce the meat content.

• To minimize cracking, smooth the top of the loaf by rubbing in a little cold water.

• Internal temperature of the meatloaf should register 170 degrees F. for beef or 185 degrees F. for pork.