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My wife can't make decent meatloaf

She is a great cook (I have the waistline to prove it) and I love her dearly....but I have never enjoyed her attempts at meatloaf. I don't want anything fancy....just what proportions of meat and onions and sauce and breadcrumbs or whatever...any suggestions?

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  1. Although it's probably a bit more complex than the average meatloaf, America's Test Kitchen has a recipe for getting palatably light and flavorful (and not too greasy) results from an all beef mixture: http://www.americastestkitchen.com/re...

    (And yes, since it's a bit of work, why not try it out yourself and see if it's what you're looking for? Or make it together, and next time you'll know where to start to tweak the recipe to your liking)

    4 Replies
    1. re: another_adam

      Go with the american's test kitchen recipe, it's really good. Also ,if you can find a wolfy recipe, that's good also. I think you can get a great meatloaf if you can find a mix of meat-such as ground beef, veal and pork. Makes a very flavorful loaf that's not dry. Good luck!

      1. re: another_adam

        I grew up with all-beef meatloaf as well as meatballs, and I never thought that the texture had anything missing. Plus, to me, all-beef has more flavor (as an adult I have tried all permutations of ground meats and still come back to what I grew up with for flavor reasons.) I saw the ATK episode, and made a mental note of their use of gelatine (for texture) but to me it just seems like an egg substitute- one of these days I'd like to do a comparrison, even if its just for the sake of science.

        Anyway- here's what I like to do, in terms of proportions: one pound of ground beef (80%) with 1 beaten egg, and 3/4 cup breadcrumbs soaked in milk. The seasonings are up to you, though my mom's secret recipe (this is the 70's we're talking about) is a package of dried onion soup mix (therefor no freshly grated onion). She used to swear by Knorr's.

        1. re: TongoRad

          The ATK recipe has eggs (2) AND gelatin. I wonder if the texture ends up being like meat jello pudding.

          1. re: Humbucker

            It's just a little gelatin, I guess the idea is to keep it from being too dense/hard--though yes, my theory is that it does work by helping to lock some of the fat in. I grew up with the oatmeal and egg version too, and that seems to have a similar effect in keeping it more fluffy than it would otherwise be (actually, my mother uses oatmeal in regular burgers too). The oatmeal wasn't soaked in anything, just mixed in before it went into the oven.

      2. I suggest that you do the research, and make it yourself. Where is it written that only the woman cooks?

        3 Replies
        1. re: elhaiken

          I'm with you on that, he who complains, makes it the next time and the next and the next until he gets it right. :)

          1. re: elhaiken

            Good point, and I do quite a bit of the cooking. I love it. Perhaps I should have phrased it differently, but knew that heading would draw readers. The fact is that, I go to the office and my wife stays home and takes care of home and children. Old fashioned, but that was her choice and she likes it that way. And I have looked up plenty of meatloaf recipes, but thought I might get some particularly good tips on this board.

            1. re: steakman55

              Perhaps meatloaf can be your specialty. There are a jillion meatloaf threads on this site, but you particularly might like this fairly recent one for someone looking for favorite tried and true meatloafs.

          2. My favorite meatloaf (that made me abandon my mother's version) is the Barefoot Contessa Turkey Meatloaf. I was skeptical that a turkey meatloaf could be as good as beef varieties, but it definitely stands up. http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recip...

            Why don't you make it for your wife, and show her how it's done?

            1. Others will post recipes. For me suffice to say that I use just ground beef (but course ground by my butcher), egg for binder, breadcrumbs, finely chopped onion and parsely or cilantro, other stuff, and the ketchup glaze.

              But equally important is the hand mixing and then shaping of the loaf. "Touch" is needed not to over- or under mix and to not over- or under compress. It is easy to over-mix; compressing and shaping requires touch. No big deal, but a technique nevertheless.

              3 Replies
              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                Also it is very important not to overcook. It will make the meatloaf dry out.
                Sometimes I mix ground pork in with my ground beef for meatloaf. I usually use a 25% pork to 75% beef ratio. As Sam stated, don't overmix, which will compact the loaf, making the texture different and IMHO, unpleasant. I also recommend hand-forming the loaf on a baking sheet and cooking that way, as opposed to making in a loaf pan. It allows the grease to run away from the loaf and I feel it cooks faster as well.

                Here's my basic recipe:
                Mix together until everything is evenly combined:
                1 1/2 lbs ground beef
                1/2 lb ground pork
                1 cup finely chopped onion
                3/4 cup breadcrumbs
                1/2 cup grated parmesan (or romano) cheese
                2/3 cup ketchup
                1 Tbsp dried parsley
                3 large eggs
                1 tsp dried thyme
                1 tsp salt
                1/2 tsp black pepper

                Form into a solid loaf on baking sheet, bake in a preheated 350F oven for one hour.
                (you can also cut this recipe in half, I do it all the time)

                1. re: QueenB

                  Oops, I forgot to add that I top my meatloaf with a 50/50 mixture of barbeque sauce and ketchup right before baking.

                2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                  Sam....so glad you brought this up. Overcompressing is the enemy of good meatloaf, hamburgers...I see so many grillers flipping a burger over while tailgating, etc, and then using the spatula to flatten the heck out of it. All those juices falling to the charcoal. Wince!

                3. The Epicurious Web site has some good recipes for turkey meatloaf. Some of the keys are adding eggs, torn fresh bread crumbs (not dry ones), sauteed mushrooms and flavorings such as Worstchestershire sauce and ketchup.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Mr. Cookie

                    Ah, Mr. Cookie you beat me to the punch! This epicurious recipe got raves on a couple of other threads -- I found it pretty tasty myself, esp. when you've had too much red meat in a week (I know - what's too much?!).


                  2. In addition to the general recipes here, I like it with bacon strips on top, and/or cooked with a ketchup glaze. It makes a nice crust when the loaf is cooked in a big pan, not a loaf pan. A mix of meats, fresh bread crumbs, onion, eggs.

                    1. Okay, now this, according to my family and friends, is one of my best dishes...BUT...how bout you make it and surprise your wife (and give her a break?)...That said, here goes...yes it is spicy, but you can cut out some of the spices...don't really measure, so I will give it my best shot....
                      1/2 lb each, ground sirloin, ground pork, and ground veal (total 1 1/2 lbs)
                      1 sweet onion and 1 red or green bell pepper
                      1 pint mushrooms
                      4 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
                      1/2 cup crushed club crackers or Ritz crackers
                      1 large egg
                      1/2 lb either Sharp cheddar cheese or monterey jack or pepper jack, or mixture, cubed in 1 inch cubes
                      3/4 bottle of Heinz chili sauce
                      2-Tablespoons chipolte sauce
                      Spices...1-2 Tablespoons of parlsey, chili powder, cumin, cilantro....2 teaspoons Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper....If you have paprika, add that as well...I like it spicy, so I add about 1 to 2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper as well....
                      Method......Cut up in small dice, the onion, pepper, and mushrooms, and saute in butter or olive oil over low heat until the veggies are soft...at the very end of the saute, add the minced garlic...Continue to saute for a couple of minutes...don't let the garlic burn..
                      Next...Mix the meats, veggies that have cooled to room temp, egg, cheese, crumbs, spices,chili and chipolte sauces, and then the spices...DO NOT OVERMIX...Just mix until nicely combined...Shape into a rectangular square and place into a Pam sprayed 13-9-2 pan...
                      Now, mix the following for the topping...(This is where you must have a bit of blind trust...)...Mix the rest of the leftover Heinz chili sauce with about another 1/2 to 3/4 cup of Ketchup, and 1/2 cup Grape Jelly...Drop in a few drops of Tabasco sauce as well...Mix this in a separate bowl all together, and Microwave it for about one minute, and mix again...Pour this mixture over the top of the meatloaf....Bake for 1 1/2 hour at 350 degrees...Watch to make sure the top does not get too dark...If it does, cover loosely with foil....Well, that's it...If you decide to try it, let me know how it turns out...

                      1. My meatloaf hating husband likes the Joy of Cooking recipe that calls for oatmeal. I soak it in milk, and the texture is really nice. I also add a grated carrot. Nice mouthfeel and flaor.

                        1. I tried making meatloaf as an adult after hating my mom's recipe growing up and then being shocked at how good it can be once I tried making it.

                          This recipe worked - and I do recommed muffin tins, it cooks faster (less drying), gets good and crusty and has a better visual appeal (not to mention portion control).

                          The basic recipe is 1 part beef to .5 parts pork and veal (twice ground! for all meats) and mixing minimally. Also, fresh bread crumbs (I use sourdough) are key.

                          If you use fresh onion/garlic (which I recommend), saute first in olive oil to soften.

                          Happy cooking! Here is a link to my recipe:

                          1 Reply
                          1. In order to keep mine moist, I mix half a container of Pomi chopped tomatoes in with the onions, breadcrumbs, eggs, and meat then dump the remaining half over the log before it goes into the oven. Oh, and I add worcestershire sauce to mine.

                            1. I've made the recipe in this thread from Chowhound Chris VR several times and I really like it. My husband doesn't eat meatloaf, but my 2 year old daughter loves it too. It's fairly basic but that's what I like about it.


                              1. This recipe is from Michael Chiarello/Food TV and is very good. It is Italian meatloaf. I prefer to make mine free form rather than jamming it into a pan where the grease just sits there.


                                1. I don't use a recipe but the last time I made it, I soaked day old no knead bread in whole milk until it got soft and then made the meatloaf with that instead of bread crumbs. It was really moist.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: chowser

                                    I like to add bell pepper to mine. that will help it being moist and add to the flavor.
                                    sometimes I use crackers, some times oats, other times I use italian bread crumbs.
                                    just what ever your little heart desires. its funny that meatloaf is like chicken there
                                    is some forty million ways to fix it, just what ever you like. But the best way is to make
                                    it yourself then you can`t complain to the cook, you can just try to come up with
                                    some excuse what happened. take care and give it your best shot.

                                  2. I use (and adore) the Paul Prudhomme Cajun Meatloaf recipe. It calls for beef and pork, but I use 1.5 lbs. turkey and .5 lbs pork or beef. The flavor is still good and it is definitely lighter.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: dinnerout

                                      I made the ATK meatloaf last night, I am still debating whether it is worth the extra effort from the more basic loaves I usually make. I will decide while eating the leftovers tonight.

                                    2. I made Will Owen's Great Meatloaf tonight. It's very good and we have nice slices leftover for tomorrow's sandwiches...I especially like the addition of horseradish in the recipe! I did tweak the recipe just slightly with both chopped green pepper AND grated carrots.