“Easy” isn’t just about using less ingredients or involving less effort, it’s also important that it tastes good. After all, what good is easy, if it doesn’t put smiles on all your diner’s faces. My ultimate meatloaf has no troubles in the deliciousness category, but with over 20 ingredients, it’s definitely not easy. I wanted to see if I could make a delicious meatloaf with a bit less effort, and with the help of a few culinary tricks, I think I pulled it off. With less than half the ingredients and taking 40% less time, this easy meatloaf is juicy with loads of flavor, yet it requires very little effort.
Caramelizing onions and garlic before adding them to meatloaf is one way to add a bunch of flavor, but this is not only time consuming, it uses an extra pan. To get around this and still have some great onion flavor, I microwaved some chopped onions and garlic in the bowl I used to mix the meatloaf. To amp up the flavor even more, I added both soy sauce and porcini powder. These ingredients not only season the meatloaf, they bolster the flavor of the beef with a meaty umami.
To save the effort of removing the meatloaf part of the way through and glazing it, I just poured the glaze on at the beginning. To get the meatloaf to cook faster, I set the oven to a higher temperature, covering the meatloaf at the beginning to keep the glaze from burning.
Lastly, I usually do meatloaf on a sheet pan because the extra fat drains more easily. This is fine when cooking it slowly at lower temperatures, but turning up the heat tends to squeeze out more liquid from the meat. To help keep the meatloaf juicy, I employed two tricks. The first is to add breadcrumbs to help soak up the meat juices as they’re released, this has the added benefit of making the meatloaf more tender. The second trick was to make the meatloaf in a loaf pan and leave it in the pan to rest for 15 minutes before draining it and slicing it. This allows some of the meat juices to get absorbed back into the loaf before it gets sliced.
- For the meatloaf:
- 6 ounces onion (1 small onion, finely minced)
- 0.25 ounces garlic (1 large clove, finely minced)
- 2 pounds ground beef
- 1 ounce panko (about 1/2 cup)
- 3 tablespoons ketchup
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 medium eggs
- 1 teaspoons porcini powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- For the glaze:
- 1/3 cup ketchup
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
- Put the onions and garlic in a large microwave-safe bowl, cover with plastic wrap and microwave at 800 watts for 2 minutes.
- Let the onions cool a bit. Add the beef, panko, ketchup, soy sauce, eggs, porcini powder and black pepper. Put a glove on and knead the mixture together with your hand until uniform.
- Turn the meatloaf mixture out into a non-stick loaf pan and press the mixture into the corners, flattening off the top.
- Mix the ketchup and brown sugar for the glaze and then pour it on top of the meat, spreading to distribute evenly.
- Cover the loaf pan with a sheet of foil and bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes.
- Remove the foil and continue baking until the meatloaf reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees F (about another 10-15 minutes).
- When the meatloaf is done, remove the loaf pan from the oven and let the meatloaf rest for 10-15 minutes.
- Drain the extra fat and liquid off of the meatloaf and discard. Slice the meatloaf and serve.
Marc Matsumoto is a culinary consultant and recipe repairman who shares his passion for good food through his website norecipes.com. For Marc, food is a life long journey of exploration, discovery and experimentation and he shares his escapades through his blog in the hopes that he inspires others to find their own culinary adventures. Marc’s been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, and has made multiple appearances on NPR and the Food Network.