Janine Gilbertson's Granite Kitchen -- Meatloaf: Economy, comfort food and creativity meet

By JANINE GILBERTSON October 10. 2017 8:10PM
BBQ turkey herb meatloaf includes oats, zucchini, barbecue sauce, bacon and more. (JANINE GILBERTSON)

If you’re looking for a good way to stretch your food budget, consider mastering meatloaf. All kinds of ground meats, not just beef, can be mixed with breadcrumbs or oats and shredded or chopped vegetables to add flavor and bulk to create a main dish.

Frugal homemakers in the earlier part of the 20th century were well aware of the virtues of meatloaf. They would stop in at the local butcher shop and buy ground beef, which consisted of the trimmings left over from more expensive cuts of meats. The ground beef would be used to add flavor to sauces or mixed with fillers to make meatballs and meatloaf or other dishes.

Back in 1962, ground beef cost 35 cents a pound; today it can be 10 times that. New trade deals allowing U.S. beef to be exported to China, where there is a high demand, means the cost of beef could rise in the future, so knowing how to maximize a pound of ground beef is a valuable skill for any home cook.

If you’re considering crafting a meatloaf, ground turkey and ground pork are also excellent options.

Personally, I like to get creative making turkey meatloaf. Ground turkey’s neutral flavor works well with many different seasonings, and you can mix in lots of different vegetables. I usually go for shredded carrots and zucchini, along with grated or chopped onions and fresh herbs, especially parsley. If you don’t want to put too much thought into what kinds of seasonings to add, seasoned breadcrumbs can add some flavor along with a little salt and pepper.

Many basic meatloaf recipes call for ketchup, but barbecue sauce is a good way to go too. With so many different kinds on the market, you can experiment with a vast range of flavors. Don’t forget to save some extra sauce (or ketchup) to drizzle over the top of the loaf just before baking.

For filler, I usually dig around in the pantry to see what’s on hand. If I’m out of breadcrumbs, old fashioned oats work just as well. I recently saw a recipe for meatloaf made with crushed Cheez-Its, but haven’t had the nerve to try it.

If you don’t have Cheez-Its and want to use up some crackers, classic Ritz or saltines are mentioned in many recipes I’ve stumbled across from the 1950s and ’60s. More modern recipes call for trendier grains like quinoa, which would be a tasty option as well.

Toppings can turn a boring, standard meatloaf into a memorable meal too, so don’t be afraid to drape a few pieces of bacon over the loaf before you stick it in the oven, or smother it with caramelized onions.

Speaking of the oven, there are different ways to cook your meatloaf, too. I’ve always cooked meatloaf on a broiler pan or on a rack set in a baking dish, but some cooks prefer to bake it in a loaf pan. Either way is fine; if you are looking for a lower-fat version, the rack or broiler pan method is best because the fat drains away from the loaf.
A miniature meatloaf baked in a muffin tin crowns the plate. (For muffin-style meatloafs, cut the cooking time to about 25 minutes.) (JANINE GILBERTSON)

Asian Pork Loaf

2 lbs ground pork

1/2 cup green onion, chopped

1 1/2 cups plus 2 tbsp panko bread crumbs

1 carrot, grated

1/2 red bell pepper, minced

1 1/2 tsp fresh ginger, grated

1 egg

1/4 c plus 2 tbsp honey teriyaki sauce

2 tbsp oyster sauce

1 tbsp soy sauce

Preheat oven to 375.

Put the pork, green onion, 1 1/2 cup of the panko bread crumbs and 1/4 cup of the teriyaki sauce to a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and mix with your hands until all ingredients are well combined. 

Spray a broiler pan with cooking spray and set the pork mixture on top, then shape it into an even loaf shape. 

Sprinkle the remaining bread crumbs on the top, then drizzle with remaining teriyaki sauce. 

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until internal temperature is about 160.
Ground beef meatloaf gets a touch of color from shredded carrots and the traditional ketchup in the mix and baked over the top. JANINE GILBERTSON (JANINE GILBERTSON)

Ground Beef Meatloaf

1 1/2 lbs ground beef

1 carrot, shredded

1 sweet onion, grated

1/4 c fresh parsley, chopped

1 1/2 c seasoned bread crumbs

1 egg

2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

2 tsp soy sauce

3/4 c ketchup plus 2 tbsp

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp black pepper

Preheat oven to 375.

Add all ingredients to a large bowl and mix well using your hands. 

Spray a broiler pan with cooking spray and place the mixture in the center, then gently shape into a loaf shape. Drizzle the remaining ketchup over the top.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the top of the meatloaf has slightly browned and internal temperature is about 160.
BBQ turkey herb meatloaf includes oats, zucchini, barbecue sauce, bacon and more. (JANINE GILBERTSON)

BBQ Turkey Herb Meatloaf

2 lbs ground turkey

1/4 c fresh parsley, chopped

1 cup zucchini, shredded

3/4 c old fashioned oats, such as Quaker

3/4 cup honey barbecue sauce, plus 2 tbsp

1/4 c seasoned bread crumbs

1 1/2 tsp seasoned salt, such as Lowry’s

2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

2 tsp fresh sage, chopped

1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped

1 egg

3 pcs bacon, cut in half

Preheat oven to 375.

Add the turkey, parsley, zucchini, oats and 3/4 cup of barbecue sauce to a large bowl. Add the bread crumbs, seasoned salt, Worcestershire, sage, thyme and egg and mix well with your hands to combine. 

Spray a broiler pan with cooking spray and mound the loaf mixture in the center of the pan, then gently pat into an even loaf shape. Spread the remaining barbecue sauce over the top, then lay the bacon over the barbecue sauce. 

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until the bacon is crispy and the meatloaf’s internal temperature is about 165.


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