It pains me to say it, but the meatloaf I had growing up…was not the best. Too often meatloaf is dry and kinda flavorless; but there’s no reason it needs to be. With a few tricks of the trade and a bit of technique, your meatloaf can be tender, moist and flavorful. And it can be unique. One of my favorite things about cooking meatloaf is that you can add different ingredients to make unique versions depending on your preferences, your mood, the season…etc. In this version, I use a pretty traditional meatloaf "base" but then spice it up with the additional of cumin, chili powder and oregano, which gives a bit of Mexican or Southwest flavor. We'll also make a twist on the traditional tomato sauce that will give us even more flavor. Hope you enjoy it and let know how it goes.
Recipe Overview & Keys to Success
Making meatloaf taste great is easy, you should need to pay attention to a few things:
- Most important, before you cook the whole meatloaf, cook just a tiny piece of the meat (what I call a taster) and try it. That will tell you if you need more seasoning, bread crumbs, or anything else - which you can add before cooking the whole meatloaf. Why risk the whole batch when you don’t need to?
- Season the meat well with salt and pepper
- Use a couple different kinds of meat (I’ve used beef and pork here). Different meats provide different flavors and textures. If you end up using just lean meats like chicken or turkey; which also have less flavor, I'd increase the amount of vegetable, spice, and maybe a bit of olive oil to bring flavor, moisture and tenderness.
- I don’t suggest using a loaf pan. Instead I prefer going “free form”, just molding the loaf and cooking it on sheet pan. That gets a nice crust on all the sides, and prevents steaming the meat which a high sided, tightly fitting pan will tend to do
Ingredients for Spicy Scented Meatloaf (for ~5)
- 1 lbs ground beef
- 1 lbs ground pork
- 1 onion diced
- 1 carrot shredded
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs
- 2 eggs
- 2 - 3 teaspoons cumin
- 2 - 3 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon dry oregano
- Salt and pepper
- 2 slices of thick bacon
- Salt and pepper
For the sauce
- 1 16 ounce can of crushed tomato
- Worcestershire sauce
- Salt and pepper
- Saute the vegetables in olive oil with salt and pepper until soft
- Let the vegetables cool, and add them to the pork and beef in a large mixing bowl
- Add the remaining ingredients (other than those for the sauce), and season with a good amount of salt and pepper. Mix everything together until it comes together (I find using your hands is the fastest way)
- Take a small piece of the meatloaf mix and cook it in a frying pan; taste to see if the seasoning is right, and then re-season the meatloaf mix if needed
- Form the meatloaf mix into a rough loaf shape and lay out on a flat slightly greased baking sheet (I don’t use a loaf pan)
- Top the meatloaf with the bacon strips, and put into an oven set at 375 degrees
- The meatloaf will take about 45 minutes, but the best way to tell doneness is to use a meat thermometer, and cook until it’s about 155 degrees in the center
- After about 15 minutes in the oven, add the tomatoes to the baking sheet which will along them to roast; which becomes the base of our sauce
- Once the meatloaf is cooked, remove from the oven and let it rest while you make the sauce
- For the sauce, add the roasted tomatoes and any drippings to a sauce pan over medium heat - there shouldn't be a ton of fat, but if there is, skim it off the pan drippings before adding to the tomatoes
- Add a little squeeze of tomato ketchup, and worcestershire sauce; reduce until you get the desired consistency; season with salt and pepper if needed
I love to serve the meatloaf with a nice comfort food side…like mashed potatoes, or polenta; then some carrots, peas, or green beans (something nice and simple) on the side. Hope you enjoy it, and let me know how it goes.
Wine Recommendation: Because of the spice in this meatloaf version, I want some pretty fruity that does not have a lot of tannin. As such...I think I'm going to pass on the reds (usually my preference), and go for a full bodied white wine, like chardonnay, or even a Rose.