Kickin’ it in the Kitchen with New Cooks: The Lighter side of MEATLOAF

What do you know about meatloaf? Have you ever heard of it? Last year I served meatloaf to a guest in my house and she scrunched up her face and said, “What is MEAT … LOAF?“. I was completely surprised and taken aback. I asked her if she was serious and then the reality sunk in that this was a generational problem. After all, she was 20 years younger than me. She was a child of the ’80s. What WOULD she know about meatloaf?

My goodness. I must have had meatloaf 2-3 times a month growing up in the 70’s. We had a big family and my mother could stretch 2 pounds of ground meat to feed our family of 8 like nobody’s business, as well as all the friends that dropped by to visit “by chance” just as dinner was being served… hmmmmm. Those 2 pounds of ground meat were mixed with oatmeal, or bread crumbs or other fillers such as rice, or sometimes a combination of fillers, as well as hidden vegetables like spinach or carrots, even peas sometimes. It was budget friendly, it fed us all and most importantly, it was ALWAYS delicious!

A little history about meatloaf: Although meatloaf has become an iconic American dish, it’s history dates back to Imperial Rome (27 B.C. to A.D. 476). Apicius, a Roman “gastronome” (a lover of food, a gourmet), wrote recipes for “forced meat, minces and meat loaves”(Project Gutenberg) . This was the first written mention of meatloaf in culinary history.

The first recipe in Book II of The Book of Apicius is as follows:

“FINELY CUT PULP [of pork] IS GROUND WITH THE HEARTS [2] OF WINTER WHEAT AND DILUTED WITH WINE. FLAVOR LIGHTLY WITH PEPPER AND BROTH AND IF YOU LIKE ADD A MODERATE QUANTITY OF [myrtle] BERRIES ALSO CRUSHED, AND AFTER YOU HAVE ADDED CRUSHED NUTS AND PEPPER [3] SHAPE THE FORCEMEAT INTO SMALL ROLLS, WRAP THESE IN CAUL, FRY, AND SERVE WITH WINE GRAVY.” (Project Gutenberg).

From the Imperial Romans, how did Meatloaf become an iconic American dish? It has been on the menu since the late 1800’s when the invention of the meat grinder made it easier to grind all the left over bits (heart, lungs, scrapings from the bones). The grinder made it possible to “mince” the meat and create a consistent and palatable texture. But meatloaf really came back into fashion during the Great Depression. With so many unemployed workers, it was the comfort food of the era. You could take the cheapest cuts of meat including the offal, grind it up and add fillers like oatmeal or bread crumbs to help stretch it out for many meals. My mother was a depression era child. I learned to make meat loaf from her.

THE RECIPE

I have taken my mothers recipe, simplified it and given a lighter twist. I use ground chicken and ground turkey instead of red meat. I did not sacrifice flavor and I did stick to the main components: ground meat, filler, egg and seasonings.

Prep time: 10 minutes. Cook time: 1 hour

Equipment:

  • You will need a mixing bowl,
  • your hands,
  • gloves if you don’t like touching raw meat, and
  • a pie pan with wide sides.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound ground turkey,
  • 1 pound ground chicken,
  • 1 cup (*gluten free) oatmeal or breadcrumbs,
  • 1 large egg,
  • 1-2 teaspoons of savory seasoning; I use basil because we are working with poultry. You could use any combination of parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme (Simon & Garfunkel) depending on your choice of ground meat,
  • 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes,
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon of “Everything Seasoning”,
  • 4 tablespoons of ketchup,
  • 2 tablespoons of A-1 Steak sauce, and
  • 2 tablespoons of peanut, olive or vegetable oil (you could also use lard if you render it yourself).

*You could also add roasted garlic, spinach, sautéed carrots, onion and celery, or any combination of vegetables you see fit to “sneak” into the loaf. This is a great way to get folks to unknowingly eat their vegetables.

*optional

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees

Dump – YES I SAID DUMP – all ingredients with the exception of 1 teaspoon of “everything seasoning” in the mixing bowl.

With your hands (I use gloves) knead the ingredients together. All ingredients should be evenly distributed throughout the ground meat. Make sure not to over mix or squeeze it in any way or the loaf will become dense and chewy.

Shape the mix into a round loaf.

Use the 4 tablespoons of ketchup to make a cross (dividing the loaf on top into 4 sections) on top. Do the same or make just 1 line down the middle with the 2 tablespoons of A-1 (see picture above).

Sprinkle the remaining teaspoon of everything seasoning all over the top.

Oil your pie pan on the sides and bottom. This is important so that the meatloaf does not stick to the pan and burn.

Place your meatloaf in the oven and turn the heat down down to 375 degrees and cook for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees again and continue cooking for another 30 minutes. In that time, the oven will be getting to 400 degrees again and end up cooking the meatloaf at that temperature for about 15-20 minutes. Just keep the meatloaf in the oven while it is getting to temp. again.

Your meatloaf will cook for a total of 60 minutes.

After the last 30 minutes, if you have a kitchen thermometer, check the temperature of the loaf by sticking it in the middle. The internal temperature should reach at least 160 degrees.

Let the meatloaf rest for 15 minutes as you would any roasted meat.

Slice and EAT. With this chicken/turkey meatloaf, I like to serve it with a small salad and mashed potatoes.

I hope you try this recipe and you enjoy it. As always,  thank you for coming by to read this. I’d like to grow my readership. If you enjoyed this blog post, add a comment and share it with a friend. 😀 Please visit, subscribe and like my YouTube channel Kickin’ it with Karen: Beyond Sauerkraut to find more things I’ve made.

Sources:

Apicius. “APICIUS COOKERY AND DINING IN IMPERIAL ROME.” Project Gutenberg, http://www.gutenberg.org/files/29728/29728-h/29728-h.htm.

Arumugam, Nadia. “From Budget Fare to Culinary Inspiration, the History of Meatloaf.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 19 Sept. 2011, http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2011/09/from-budget-fare-to-culinary-inspiration-the-history-of-meatloaf/245265/.

National Geographic Society. “Imperial Rome.” National Geographic Society, National Geographic, 3 July 2018, http://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/imperial-rome/.

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2 thoughts on “Kickin’ it in the Kitchen with New Cooks: The Lighter side of MEATLOAF

  1. Woo Hoo! One of my favorites: Meat-Loaf!

    Like

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