Urbnspice Ultimate Recipe Series
My daughters were both very involved in soccer during their childhood (continuously, for seventeen years), sometimes seven days a week during soccer season. Needless to say, we were very busy parents, often delivering one daughter to a field before driving to the other side of the city for our other daughter’s practice or game. As a working Mom, I needed to be extremely organized with meal prep for breakfast, snacks, lunches and dinners. I developed strategies to make my busy week simpler with a freezer reserve of homemade meals, a repertoire of slow-cooker recipes and a selection of make-ahead meals prepared over the weekend. One of our family favourites was this Unbeatable Meat Loaf.
We often had what we called ‘oven-meals’ on Sunday and meatloaf was a favourite comfort food of the kids. The addition of scalloped or lemon potatoes, roasted butternut squash and an apple crisp made this oven meal wholesome and healthy for two very hungry, fit and growing girls. Meatloaf is an excellent quick and easy make-ahead dish, which also keeps the budget in mind.
Meatloaf can be popped into the oven immediately after mixing together, or prepared up until topping (see Method) and refrigerated until the next day. This recipe makes two family-sized free-form meatloaves – one to have now and one to freeze for later. If you can resist eating it all, there should be leftovers for meatloaf sandwiches!
Unbeatable Meat Loaf – The Ultimate Comfort Food
CHEF TALK: I use ground beef and add pork for additional flavour, together with a variety of seasonings that make this meatloaf quite irresistible. Green onion and minced garlic do not require cooking before adding to the meat mixture – another timesaving tactic. One thing that I started doing when my daughter became grain free was using dried vegetable flakes instead of bread crumbs (you can read about it here). The result of this addition was so flavourful that we have added it ever since. Dried vegetable flakes can be found in any bulk food area of your grocery store. Use your favourite bread for the fresh breadcrumbs (I used gluten free bread). Mix up the easy meatloaf topping ingredients to top the meatloaf as listed (don’t forget to top it – you won’t regret it) or, if you must use your favourite bbq sauce.
CHEF NOTE: Dried Vegetable Flakes: dried vegetable flakes (most often contains carrot, celery, onion, leek, potato and parsley) are now widely available in grocery stores in the bulk section (and sometimes found in the soup section of the store). As an alternative, you can use a finely chopped carrot and stalk of celery as a substitution for the dried vegetable flakes.
For the Meat Loaf:
- 2 lbs. (908 g) ground beef
- 1 lb. (454 g) ground pork
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ¼ cup finely chopped green onion (1 – 2 scallions)
- 1/3 finely chopped rehydrated vegetable flakes (2 tablespoons dried vegetable flakes), optional but highly recommended
- 1 cup fresh bread crumbs (2 slices bread)
- ½ cup milk or broth
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon prepared mustard
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- ½ cup ketchup
- 1 tablespoon coarse salt
- 2 teaspoons ground pepper
For the Meatloaf Topping:
- ½ cup ketchup
- 1 teaspoon prepared mustard
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- Preheat oven to 375oF/190oC (350oF/175oC if using a convection oven). Prepare a rimmed baking sheet by placing a piece of parchment on the bottom and set a wire rack on top of the tray.
- For the Meatloaf: In a large bowl, place the ground beef and pork and break apart slightly.
- Add the garlic and green onion.
- Rehydrate the vegetable flakes in ¼ cup boiling water. Allow the vegetable flakes to absorb the water and soften, then finely chop them. You should have approximately 1/3 cup rehydrated vegetable flakes. Add this on top of the meat mixture.
- In a medium sized bowl, combine the fresh breadcrumbs and milk. Set aside for five minutes until the breadcrumbs absorb the milk. To the same bowl, add the egg, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, ketchup salt and pepper. Stir to combine the ingredients and then add this mixture to the meat mixture.
- Combine all of the ingredients and mix well (do not overmix). CHEF TIP: It is always a good idea to take a small meatball sized ball, flatten into a patty and test it by frying it in a pan. Taste the cooked meat sample and adjust seasonings if necessary to suit your taste.
- Divide the meat mixture in half and form each half into a freeform meatloaf about the size of a bedroom slipper. Place each meatloaf on the wire rack. CHEF TIP: Free-form meatloaves cook much faster than a meat loaf in a loaf pan. The excess fat from the meat drips onto the parchment lined baking sheet. The topping caramelizes on the entire meatloaf, creating an attractive and delicious crust.
- For the Meatloaf Topping: Combine the ketchup, mustard, Worcestershire and brown sugar together. Brush the topping all over on each of the meatloaves. Baste a few times with any remaining topping while the meatloaf is roasting.
- Place the tray into the preheated oven. Roast the meatloaves until the internal temperature reaches 160oF/71oC (approximately 60 to 70 minutes).
For Make Ahead Meat Loaf Options:
- Option 1: Prepare the meatloaves up until Step 8. Refrigerate the raw meatloaves (covered lightly with plastic wrap). Before roasting, brush the meatloaf topping on the meatloaves and roast them the next day.
- Option 2: After roasting, cool the meatloaves on the rack. Once cooled, store them in the refrigerator in a covered container. CHEF TIP: the meatloaves are easier to slice once they are chilled thoroughly.
What Else Can I Do With This Recipe?
Meatloaf Sandwiches: Sometimes we make meatloaf just for the sandwiches! Toast two pieces of good sourdough bread. Slather one side of the toast with butter and prepared mustard – the other side with mayonnaise or roasted garlic aioli. On one toast, place thick slices of meatloaf, slices of cheddar cheese, and fresh lettuce. Top with the other slice of bread. Slice in half. Serve with sweet or dill pickles on the side. Enjoy!
Meatballs: Use the above meat mixture to make meatballs. Using a small cookie scoop, portion the meatballs onto a parchment lined baking sheet. CHEF TIP: Dip your hands in water to make rolling meatballs easier. Place the meatballs close together on the baking sheet. Bake the meatballs in a preheated 375oF oven, shaking the baking pan every few minutes to turn the meatballs. Cook until the meatballs are firm and lightly coloured, approximately 10 minutes. Cool the meatballs completely. Freeze on the tray for individually quick frozen meatballs. Portion the frozen meatballs into vacuum sealed bags or containers as per your family requirements. Label, date and freeze. Serve with tomato sauce and a generous sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.
Hamburgers: Use the above meat mixture to make flavourful hamburgers. Use immediately or freeze on a parchment lined baking sheet. Store and freeze with a square of parchment paper in between each patty and take out as needed.
You Might Also Be Interested in These Make-Ahead Dishes:
Please CLICK the link above to access my Urb’n’Spice LEARNING TIPS, which are listed alphabetically on the Learning Tips blog post under the following subheadings:
- Oven Temperature Accuracy
If you try my recipe for Unbeatable Meat Loaf – The Ultimate Comfort Food, please leave me a comment below with your feedback. Don’t forget to pin this recipe for later!
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