Main dishes, Recipes, Uncategorized

Meatloaf, Meatballs, and Variations

As some of you know, I’m recovering from shoulder surgery and don’t have much use of my right hand and arm for the next few weeks. I’m planning to do some reblogging during that time, highlighting previous recipes appropriate for the season. But a discussion on a friend’s page last week prompted me to jot down quickly my meatloaf recipe for you. Why? Because it’s different from any other meatloaf recipe I’ve ever seen in one key ingredient, and I want to share that with you so that you can make delicious, moist, fiber-rich and lower carb meatloaf and meatballs. For the rationale behind the use of this key ingredient, I’ve included the link to a previous post about sausage-stuffed acorn squash, which uses a variation on meatloaf. Rather than beef or turkey burger, this recipe uses ground breakfast sausage, and it is a delicious, easy, and attractive main dish. This previous post explains why I use oat bran rather than bread crumbs, cracker crumbs, or oatmeal as the binder in my meatloaf and meatballs. Here is my regular meatloaf recipe. If you want to make meatballs, this mixture works beautifully in that application; directions are at the end of this post.

Moist Meat Loaf

Serves 4

1 lb. ground meat  (beef, turkey, bison, venison—all are good)

½ cup chopped onions

1 seeded, chopped jalapeno or serrano pepper or ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 large or extra-large egg, lightly beaten

¼ cup milk

½ cup oat bran (secret ingredient!)

2 tablespoons dehydrated veggie flakes (optional)

¼ teaspoon salt (or more to your taste)

¼ teaspoon black pepper (or more to your taste)

1-3 teaspoons crushed dried oregano (I like lots of herbage)

1-3 teaspoons crushed dried parsley

Olive oil

Saute onions, peppers, and garlic in a tablespoon or two of olive oil until tender.  Set aside to cool.  In a medium sized bowl, gently mix ground meat, egg, milk, oat bran, herbs, and seasonings.  Mix in sautéed vegetables. Press gently into bottom of bowl.

If I am using a fatty meat, I like to cook my meatloaf on a rack so that the fat drains off the meat as it roasts. If you are using a ground beef with 10% or less fat content, you don’t need to use a rack. But for 80/20 or 70/30 grinds (ratio of lean meat to fat), a rack should be used. Line a 13 X 9 inch cake pan or a cookie sheet with foil for easier clean-up later and place rack over top. Spray with cooking spray or grease with vegetable shortening or oil to prevent meatloaf from sticking to rack or foil. If you are using a lean meat, you can place the meatloaf directly on the foil-lined pan. Do not ever cook a meatloaf in a loaf pan. The meat does not roast when confined in a loaf pan and both texture and flavor will be affected negatively.

Turn bowl upside down over rack or pan and unmold meatloaf. If you are using a rack, leave the meatloaf in this mound shape. If you try to form it into a loaf on the rack, you will have sticking issues when you try to serve it. The mound shape produces a variety of lengths when sliced, which works out fine for families with small children or those with smaller appetites. If you unmound the meatloaf onto a greased, foil-lined pan, you can mold it into the traditional loaf shape.

Some people like to add a sauce to the top of the meatloaf at this point, traditionally, ketchup. I prefer not to add a sauce until the top of the meatloaf has browned. I think this produces better flavor, so I add my sauce or glaze in the last 15-20 minutes of cooking. And I’ve come up with a delicious glaze that is way better than plain ketchup. See below.

Bake uncovered for 60 to 75 minutes at 375 degrees, or until meat juices run clear.


¼ cup ketchup

¼ cup spicy brown mustard

2 tablespoons Worchestershire sauce

1 tablespoon maple syrup

Mix together.  Brush on meat in last 15-20 minutes of cooking time.

For meat balls:

Form meat mixture into 1 ½ inch balls. Place on foil-lined cookie sheet and roast at 375 degrees for 20-30 minutes, or until browned. Remove from oven and finish cooking in a pot of Italian Red Sauce. Meatballs in sauce can be served alone or tossed with cooked pasta of your choice.



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