Updated: Feb 10
-2 pounds of meat
Beef or venison with pork shoulder, moose with pork shoulder, bison with pork fat, elk, etc.
-Bread, hamburger buns, or bread crumbs
One large hamburger bun or three slices of bread or 1/2 cup bread crumbs.
-Salt, pepper, or other spices
-Ketchup & mustard
Preheat oven to 350°
Meatloaf is a staple of life and ultimate comfort food. I make our meatloaf from 30% pasture-raised all-natural Berkshire pork shoulder and 70% super clean venison. I don't have any problem grounding up a backstrap for this dish, but be sure to have at least a 20% fat content, so your loaf isn't gamey or dry. Here's the real secret. The way you add ingredients to meatloaf dramatically changes the flavor profile and texture.
Just like baking cookies, it matters how you put your recipe together. Tossing all of the ingredients into the bowl for your meatloaf at once blends the eggs and spices mostly with the bread or bread crumbs. So when your loaf cooks, the egg firms up in the bread quickly, and the more intense meat juices leave the loaf, and you are stuck with a drier, firm loaf. Egg and bread is just a flat french-toast. You don't want pockets of that in the middle of your meatloaf.
For a moist meaty flavored loaf, always mix with your hands and not a mixer. A mixer will overwork your loaf, making a meat-brick instead. Cut your desired bread into small pieces, or use bread crumbs. Don't be tempted to throw in whole slices of bread or buns. The bread won't get evenly distributed. Cut the bread and mix the bread in, letting it sit for a few minutes to absorb the excess meat juices. This method will keep your meatloaf moist instead of eggy and dry. Cut your onion while you let your loaf rest and prepare your spices.
Add the spices, ketchup, mustard, and diced onions and gently fold them in. I like salt, pepper, garlic powder, and a little thyme in my loaf. My Grandma, bless her feisty, dearly departed heart, liked to add caraway seeds. My Mom likes to add BBQ sauce. Maybe you like premixed seasoning spices or red wine. I was a fan of Montreal Steak seasonings for years until I discovered the glory of homegrown herbs. The additions and variations are endless, but knowing when and how to add the eggs and bread is the secret to a legendary loaf.
Lastly, finish up your loaf by scrambling your eggs before adding them. This way, there won't be any weird white parts or heavy eggy areas to your loaf if the eggs don't get mixed in well. Don't stop mixing until fully incorporated. You might panic at first, thinking it will never mix in to form a loaf, but it will.
Place your loaf in a