Apr 30, 2009

Mini Meatloaves

I love meatloaf. Love it! Also, I love cooking meatloaf this way. I hate greasy meatloaf, swimming in all that fat from the ground beef. I also hate meatloaf covered with a nice burnt layer of what was tomato sauce or ketchup. So, this is how I cook my meatloaf. This also freezes well. I'll include that in the instructions, too, in case someone out there is interested.

Mini Meatloaves

Ingredients:
2 lbs. ground beef (chuck, etc.- whatever kind you prefer)
2 eggs
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup bread crumbs, crushed saltine or Ritz-style crackers, etc. (again, whatever you have - this is great for using up old, stale bread or crackers)
1 package meatloaf seasoning (I usually use McCormick, just because that is what's available in my stores near here. I probably should look into making my own, though.)
1 (14oz) can italian diced tomatoes
1 (small? 6oz?) can tomato sauce

For most of these ingredients, I just use whatever I have or can find on sale. All the grease that cooks out of this will drain away, so I'm not concerned about buying low-fat (80/20 or 93/7 or some such) beef. Also,I try to stretch our grocery budget just a little, so I usually buy the store brands of canned goods when I can. As stated above, about the only thing I don't buy store brand is maybe the seasoning, because I don't think I've seen store-brand seasoning. I could probably make my own cheaper, especially if I also made my own taco seasoning, etc. I may look into that. But for now, store bought it is.

Directions:
1. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Get out your broiler pan and the rack that goes with it. I love using my broiler pan for cooking meatloaf. All the slits in the pan let all the nasty grease drain into the bottom of the pan, keeping my meatloaf high and dry, you might say. If you don't own one of these, you can use any pan with sides deep enough to hold the grease. However, I really do suggest you go out and get one if you don't have it. You'll thank me for it later.

2. Spray your pan with non-stick cooking spray. This helps the meatloaf not stick to the broiler pan, or what ever pan you're using.

3. In a medium mixing bowl, beat the eggs, milk, and tomato sauce together. Add seasoning and bread crumbs (or which ever you're using). THEN add the meat, mixing well with your hands.

4. While your hands are still covered in the meatloaf mixture, grab the meat by the handfull and shape into a ball/loaf shape. Place on the broiler rack (or other pan). Continue until you've used up all the meat.

5. Place your pan of meatloaf in the oven and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until meat is cooked all the way through. If you like, you can spread tomato sauce or ketchup or whatever your family prefers over the loaves, before or during cooking. I don't like it, so I omit this part.

Some helpful tips for making mini meatloafs:
1. A muffin pan can be used, also. Just spray the pan before you fill it. Press enough of the meat mixture into each cup to fill it over. Place muffin pan on a pan deep enough to catch any grease that runs out of the muffin pan.

2. For freezing, either use a muffin pan, or line baking sheets with wax/parchment paper (whichever you have). When using muffin pans, spray each cup before filling. Fill and freeze until the meat is frozen solid. Transfer to zippered freezer bags and freeze. When using baking sheet, spray the wax paper with cooking spray. Shape each loaf by hand and place on the paper, not touching. Freeze until frozen solid. Transfer to freezer bags and freeze.

3.) This recipe doubles and triples easily. Monday I cooked 5.3 pounds of hamburger meat into meatloaf. (Yes, all of it was for eating that night and leftovers the next day). I used: 5.3 pounds meat, 1 (14 oz) can Italian diced tomatoes, 1 (14 oz) can tomato sauce, whatever stale saltine/Ritz/oyster crackers I had in the cabinet (pulsed them in the blender to crumble them up quickly), 5 eggs, two packs of seasoning, and enough milk to hold it all together (1/2 to 3/4 cup? I don't know, I just poured some in the bowl). I mixed it up following the directions above. It made 19 mini-meatloaves (each was a gull handful of meat), which filled up my broiler pan completely. I had to cram them on there, touching. It only took them about 75 minutes for them to all be cooked completely. I checked with my meat thermometer, and every one was 190°F or more inside. This fed 7 adults (some of which ate two or more loaves), gave me a plate (with 2 1/2 loaves) for lunch at work Tuesday, and left 5 in the fridge for the guys to eat Tuesday.

4. Alternatively, you could double or triple the amount you need when you make this. Cook what you need and freeze the rest. Dinner in a flash later, with only a minute or two of extra work now!

5. To cook after freezing, just place on the pan you want to cook them in (still frozen) and put them in the oven. It'll take longer to cook, but there's no defrosting needed. In fact, defrosting is really a waste, because then you'll probably have to reshape each one before baking.

6. If you want to make traditional meatloaf (one big loaf) this recipe works, too. I find it takes less time to bake if I make mini loaves for each of us, so that's what I do. By all means, use a loaf pan and make one big one if that's what you want. Or better yet (in my opinion), shape it into a loaf and place it on a broiler pan that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. All the grease still drains off, and it's still one big loaf.

7. When using a broiler pan, spray both sides of the rack with non-stick spray. Also spray the inside of the bottom pan. Trust me, easier cleanup later. The slots in the top pan will collect tiny pieces of meat and gristle and such as they cook out of the loaves, and then you'll have to scrub to get them off. Trust me. Spray the whole pan. You'll be glad you did.

8. Be careful when taking the broiler pan out of the oven when your meatloaf is done. Hold that pan even and level, and don't slosh it around. If you don't watch it, you'll pour hot meatloaf grease all over yourself. Not fun. I poured it all over the toe of my leater and suede work shoes the other day. I didn't burn myself, but I could have. Thank goodness I wear my shoes even inside.

Anyone have anything else to add? If you do, leave a comment!

5 comments:

Helen H David said...

WalMart has a bread pan that doubles as a meatloaf pan. It has another pan I put under the loaf pan that catches the grease. So the meatloaf pan drains, then the drain pan can be used to bake bread. I hate greasy meatloaf, too.

Helen H David said...

I forgot to mention that they are non-stick pans. ;) And I hadn't thought of making mini meatloafs. That would be good for me to take to work!!

Patricia said...

I've seen the pans, but they'd never be big enough for me. I made 5.3 pounds of ground hamburger into meatloaf Monday night! Can you imagine how many of those pans I'd need?

I do know you can make these, cook them, and then freeze them. Bag them up after they're frozen, so they don't stick together. Then when you fix your lunch for work, take one out and throw it in a small zipper bag or in your lunch plate, add your sides, and go. These taste OK after they've been thawed and reheated, as long as you wrap them good enough to prevent freezer burn.

Patricia said...

Believe it or not, my hatred for greasy meatloaf one seeing those pans is what made me think of my broiler pan. Since I could never make 6 pounds of meatloaf in one of those pans. I'd have to have 6 of those, give or take. But I can fit 6 pounds of meatloaf on my broiler rack, even if I shape them into mini loaves, which I HAVE to do because 6 pounds would never cook through without burning to a crisp on the outside!

Rebecca said...

NEVER EVER EVER delete these posts with recipes in them. IF I ever get to move out on my own (or move back in with Mom) I'll need helping cooking on my own. EasyMac, Chef Boyardee, Hamburger Helper, frozen pizzas, and toast "made in the oven" WON'T cut it. :P