Nothing used to strike fear into my heart more than meatloaf. Up until one year ago I hadn’t eaten meatloaf since I was 16 years old. I despised it, hated it, couldn’t stand looking at it and would have been happy to never eat it again for the rest of my life. The meatloaf that I grew up was not good, plain and simple. But the worst part was my dad would, on certain occasions, make me sit at the dinner table until everything was cleared.
Most of the time this wasn’t a problem since my dad and I fought over the last piece of whatever it was my mother cooked. Not with meatloaf. I still remember the night that changed my view of meatloaf for the past 23 years. I remember wishing I had a dog like everyone on TV that they could secretly pass their food to under the table.
On this night I sat at the dinner table from 5:00 to 8:30, which you can imagine is not too easy to do when you are 16 years old and all your friends are out playing football while I sat at the table, pissed off at my dad and sick to my stomach.
As a last resort I started to swallow whole pieces with a big drink of water, no chewing necessary. Needless to say, this still took some time because I would gag each time I tried to force it down. Thanks mom and dad, maybe I can sue you and win some monetary damages or your house or something.
Fast forward to one year ago… my wife owns a restaurant with a published meatloaf recipe and our sous-chef Megan makes what everyone says is excellent meatloaf. So with my competitive spirit I decided to make the meatloaf published in the Best New Recipe book by America’s Test Kitchen because my stepson Randy really wanted to cook something with me and he wanted meatloaf. YUCK… but you have to do whatever is necessary for your kids. Well, most of the time.
Surprisingly I actually liked it, had second helpings and ate it for lunch the next day! Wow, it’s amazing what cooking something properly can do! I think my mom is going to kick my ass when she reads this!
Let’s fast forward again to a few days ago when I read a recipe in the book “The Shameless Carnivore” for Buffalo Meatloaf. It looked super easy and I of course was interested since Buffalo meat has 30 percent less cholesterol and half the fat and calories of the cow variety. The recipe was simple and I knew that I could come home from work, do the prep, get it in the oven and then go workout while it cooked away.
So tonight I did just that. I stopped on my way home from work and picked up 2 pounds of buffalo meat at the local butcher, frozen of course. I came home and put the meat, still in the package, in a bowl and ran cold water over it to defrost it. This took about 20 minutes and by that time I had all my ingredients ready to go. This recipe was fast!
Overall I was happy with the results, but after consulting with Nancy and taking a look at some other recipes, I present to you the modified version that will knock your socks off!
- 2 pounds of ground buffalo meat
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 3 teaspoons of kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- ¾ cup of soft bread crumbs, made with sourdough bread in the food processor
- ½ cup of whole milk
- 2 teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
- ½ cup of onions, small dice
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
- ¼ teaspoon of chopped, fresh rosemary
- One 8-ounce can of tomato sauce
- 9 dashes of Tabasco sauce
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. While the oven is preheating sauté the onions in a pan over medium high heat until tender, about 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool.
Combine all of the ingredients with the exception of the tomato sauce and Tabasco in a large bowl. Do not over mix! Lightly grease a loaf pan and transfer the meat mixture to the pan, packing down the meat. Mix the tomato sauce and the Tabasco then spread over the top of the loaf. Bake uncovered for 1 hour, to 160 degree internal temperature, then turn on the broiler and broil for an additional 3 minutes or until browned. Remove and rest for 10 minutes, pour off excess fat, slice, serve and enjoy!
As to what I learned this time around. Well first off the original recipe called for adding the onions raw. I did this time, but haven’t in the past and there was quite a difference in texture. The cooking time and the temperature just don’t have enough gusto to soften the onions. It is well worth the additional few minutes to sauté them before adding the the rest of the ingredients.
Other items for future research are the minimum temperature buffalo needs to be cooked to. Most of the research I’ve done suggests 160 degrees just like ground beef.
Also there are three different ways to cooks the meatloaf in the oven. You can use a loaf pan, which this recipe calls for, but has the drawback of stewing the meat in the fat. If you don’t like crunchy exteriors then this is the way to go. There are also pans made for meatloaf that have a perforated bottom and an accompanying drip pan. The enclosed pan keeps the meat soft but allows the drippings to flow to the bottom pan below.
Lastly you can cook them free-formed on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil, for easy clean up. This allows for the top and sides to brown much better. The last meatloaf I cooked I did this way and was very happy with the results.
So with that I will say good luck on your cooking quest!