Meatloaf recipe, what am I missing?

kcredMay 3, 2014

I really like a good meatloaf, and I have a fair recipe, but I'm missing what I describe as a "dark" flavor to the loaf. Could also be called earthy or robust maybe. I tried adding some stuff called Kitchen Bouquet, and it helps a little, but doesn't get me what I want. Here is the recipe I use, and maybe you can tell me what I need to add. Thanks!

MEAT LOAF

2 pounds ground beef
3/4 pound ground pork
1 sweet red pepper, finely diced
8 ounces sliced baby portobello mushrooms
5 tablespoons catsup for the meat mixture
2 tablespoons catsup for the topping
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1-1/2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
� teaspoon black pepper
2 1/2 teaspoons Kitchen Bouquet
1 whole egg
3/4 cup dry bread crumbs
Pam cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine meat. Then add catsup, Dijon mustard, basil, oregano, salt, pepper, Kitchen Bouquet, mushrooms, sweet pepper, and egg. Mix, then add bread crumbs and mix well.
Line bottom tray of broiler pan with aluminum foil. Shape meat mixture into a 9x5-inch loaf on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Spread 2 tablespoons catsup over the top of the meatloaf before baking. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, or until a thermometer registers 160 degrees. Let stand for 10 minutes. Cut the loaf into 1 inch slices.

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eibren

Many add onion or garlic IMO purple onion gives a more more musky taste,

    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 2:54PM
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sleevendog

Onion, celery, carrot, garlic...diced very fine. First, then the meats. I add a bit of sage to that early on. Such a small amount of those things, but it does give an early nice binder/flavor. Almost like a veggie 'gravy'.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 3:19PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

I always make mine with just beef...no pork. You can always add worcestershire sauce and/or montreal seasoning

    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 4:55PM
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grandmamary_ga

I always add a white onion to mine and an egg. Helps to bind along with a few oats or bread crumbs.
Mary

    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 5:01PM
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plllog

To me, it sounds like you're looking for umami. That's the "fifth taste" that some people think is fictional because there isn't a specific tongue sensor for it. It's described as "earthy" and "meaty". Caramelized meats have it, as do mushrooms and tomatoes, and bacon is said to have five different kinds of umami, which is why people use it as a condiment.

You could try sauteing the mushrooms in a little wine or broth for a few minutes, then leave on low heat covered for 8-10 minutes, to bring out the flavor and reduce the water content. If there's water in pan, when you uncover it, raise the heat and stir until it's steamed off.

Also, try broiling the meatloaf without the ketchup on top and then brush that on for the last fifteen minutes. That would allow the meat to caramelize, then the ketchup to caramelize as well.

The suggestion of onions is good, but some people really don't like onions. Meatloaf usually does have an onion in it.

Soy sauce will also bring the umami, but your recipe already has so many disparate flavors, that I'd want to take some things out before adding soy sauce.

You could also substitute cured pork for fresh (i.e., bacon, prosciutto, pork belly). Chop it up and give it a quick run through the pan to render off some of the fat first. Or go old time Americana and lay strips of bacon on the top. Or use just beef and make sure it gets a good crust on it.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 6:23PM
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KatieC

Our usual is ground beef, egg, bread crumbs and some oatmeal I add shredded carrot and some finely diced onion and green pepper. Ketchup, garlic or garlic powder, some sage and thyme. And it isn't right without worcestershire.

Hmmm...going to be cold and rainy....now I want meatloaf.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 9:09PM
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markb

After perusing your recipe, it seems to me you are in dire need of salt. A general rule of thumb is about a teaspoon per pound, not to mention salt needed for the veggies.

Also, try sautéing the pepper and mushrooms until tender before adding to the meat mixture. Raw veggies tend to not impart the rich flavor a meatloaf requires.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 9:49PM
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arkansas_girl

I had this thread saved in my bookmarks. I have to say that agree with those that like the Lipton Onion soup mix recipe, it's what I make. Someone mentions to use a pinch of nutmeg. Also mentioned is to not use a really lean hamburger meat. I recently bought 90/10 ground beef and it was totally disgusting, dry and flavorless. I used the left over meat to make chili and even the chili tasted dry...HAHAHA! WTH?

Here is a link that might be useful: Old meatloaf thread

    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 11:18PM
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lazy_gardens

Find some "Black mushroom soy sauce" ... it has that "dark" flavor you are looking for. Not as salty as most soy sauces.

And cut back on the catsup - it's sweet and bright.

Sautee the chopped mushrooms until brown, then add them - more "dark" taste.

Kitchen Bouquet is basically caramel coloring with a bit of herbs.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2014 at 11:22PM
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Rusty

I would lose the Kitchen Bouquet.
To me, that stuff is nasty.
And I think some onion and a bit of garlic powder
is essential to good meat loaf.
There are so many ways to make it,
And taste is so subjective,
It's hard to say what someone else might like.

Oh, I also like to add just a touch of brown sugar
and Worcestershire Sauce to the catchup for the topping.

Rusty

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 12:23AM
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plllog

I use 90/10 ground beef sometimes for meatballs, though 85/15 is better. If you like rich and fatty, you can go richer. For meatballs, I put a large onion and a double handful of carrots, probably 1.5-2 cups rough chopped, through the food processor until minced, 1 lb meat, 2 eggs and 2 pieces of ground whole wheat matzah, or equivalent dry bread crumbs. Plus seasoning, parsley and whatever else sounds good at the time. This makes for a very delicate, but moist and flavorful meatball, er, um, meat and vegetable ball. I use a food scoop to portion, and roll lightly between my hands to firm them up as much as they'll go, and brown them on all sides. Sometimes I simmer them in a sauce after browning, or just let them cook in the pan.

Similarly, if you were to use very lean meat in a meatloaf, you'd need to add more liquid and flavor. That, in turn, will give you a different texture. Most people prefer firmer meatloaf.

I agree with Lazygardens about the ketchup. I was thinking it was too much, but couldn't say why.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 12:25AM
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TobyT

I also notice a lack of salt in your recipe. I'm sure a lot of people will disagree with me on this, but my go to recipe for meatloaf includes a package of onion soup mix to 3 pounds ground beef. It's really not so bad, just salt, dehydrated onions, beef boulillion, etc. Yes I could sautee my own onions, add reduced homemade beef broth, etc., but the family likes it this way and it's quick on a busy night. Happy to post the entire recipe if anyone is interested.
Jane

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 12:27AM
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sushipup1

"A general rule of thumb is about a teaspoon per pound, not to mention salt needed for the veggies. "

Holy cow, that is a LOT of salt!

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 1:27AM
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cj47_gw

I'll third the Worcestershire sauce. It's made from anchovies, and it's an old trick to add a bit of anchovy to beef dishes to make it taste 'beefier'. It also adds umami. I often start a beef stew by dissolving an anchovy or two in the oil. Nobody can taste the fish, but it gives the beef a boost! I also noted the lack of salt, so you may want to add just a bit more to see if that helps, in addition to the W. sauce.

Cj

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 1:32AM
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markb

"Holy cow, that is a LOT of salt!"

Actually, no it isn't. Think of it this way. Pretend you have one pound of ground beef and you are making hamburgers. You divide the beef in to four patties of one quarter pound each. Then divide the one teaspoon of salt into quarter teaspoons. That is, one quarter teaspoon per patty. Doesn't seem like too much now, does it.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 11:52AM
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sushipup1

Yes, it does seem like a lot. In the case you describe, I'd use a pinch of kosher salt. Probably less than half of your example.

A teaspoon of table salt is about 2300 mg so your burger has 575 mg. A "normal" diet should be no more than 2300 mg per day of sodium, and those with hypertension, over the age of 50 and African Americans should limit daily sodium intake to no more than 1500 mg.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 12:02PM
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forboystoo

Saw this the other night ...
Sun Dried Tomato Ketchup !
Anyone tried it as an alternative to the regular ??

Here is a link that might be useful: I have nothing to do with this company

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 12:31PM
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sleevendog

Salt seems to be a personal taste debate. I don't use any salt in cooking. It is in so many things already while cooking. I wait till the end, then maybe add a bit. I really like salts. I like it as an edge crust flavor rather than all mixed in.
Tamari and soy and miso. Worcestershire. RedBoat fish sauce. Not that often but they pack a salty punch and hard to take salts out if i add extra early on.
I make ketchup sometimes. With roasted tomatoes. I don't recall ever making meat loaf so what am i doing here?
DH says i have. We do like it. I think gourmet magazine had a recipe 10 or 15yrs ago.
Now i want it. I had a good NewJersey diner lunch meatloaf a while back.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 1:01PM
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cj47_gw

I have to agree that I'd not use a teaspoon of salt per pound of meat--that's just too much for MY taste. And I admit, everyone's taste is different regarding how much salt they use in their cooking. However, the recipe above shows 1 teaspoon of salt to nearly three pounds of meat, and that does seem a little light. And, yeah, I'd lose the Kitchen Bouquet... :-)

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 1:05PM
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plllog

There's a lot of salt in bottled ketchup. :)

And I agree about the quantity of salt. I'd never use that much!

Salt is one of those additive things where the more you eat of it, the less you can taste it. Your interpretation of your salt receptors gets reset to salted being plain and really salty being seasoned. One's perception of flavors, especially salt, diminishes as one ages too. I get mad at the TV on those chef competitions when some middle aged guy (fine chef judge) says that a 28-year-old's dish is underseasoned and the youngster looks baffled and says, "I seasoned that!" I always hope for the young contestant to be the chef when I go out to eat. So much fine dining food is ruined with way too much salt.

You can reset your salt meter by just laying off salt for awhile. Use a little with meats, but try to use celery and onions rather than salting vegetables. Lay off pickles and briny things. Get to know the true, unsalted flavors of your ingredients. If you do that for a month or two, unsalted things will stop tasting bland.

Definitely, however, if you take the ketchup out of the meatloaf recipe, so add a little salt. Unseasoned meat is the poster child of "why doesn't this taste better?"

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 6:51PM
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gr8daygw

I know this might be unconventional but I use ground beef the best cut I can get and then I mix in some Jimmy Dean Sausage Crumbles Original. It kicks it up a notch and adds more exciting flavors. It is already fully cooked but I just put it in with the uncooked loaf and bake it. Because it is fully cooked it doesn't have as much grease in it and I like using it for that reason. Here is my recipe for meatloaf, it's so easy but I get compliments whenever I fix it.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1 ý to 2 lbs. ground beef 1 ü tsp.salt
ý cup Jimmy Dean Orig. Sausage Crumbles
1 egg ü tsp. pepper
1 medium onion chopped ý 16 oz can tomato sauce
save some for topping or similar size

combine ground beef and sausage crumbles, beaten egg, salt, pepper and ý can tomato sauce and shape into loaf

Sauce
use the other half of tomato sauce
ý cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoons Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Mustard
Dash of A-1 Sauce

Dissolve sugar into other ingredients, pour over meatloaf adding part of the chopped onion and also some chopped green pepper to the topping for garnish. You might want to wait to add the pepper and onion to the top of your loaf about a half hour before cooking time is up so it doesn't overcook the edges of the onions and peppers and stays looking pretty.

Bake for 1 hour or until you judge it done.

I always just wing it with the sauce and sometimes use more sugar and just guess at the other ingredients until it's a sort of sweet and sour type of sauce. I love the contrast of the meatloaf and yummy sauce. The original recipe was from my church cookbook before I modified it with the fully cooked sausage crumbles and a couple of other tweaks. I've made it several times and each time just play around with the recipe. Sometimes I add a seasonings mix instead of just salt and pepper or garlic salt instead of just salt, things like that. I started putting the crumbles in because meat doesn't seem to have as much taste as it used to and the crumbles give it more spicy taste without overpowering it. One thing I want you to know is that since you are putting tomato sauce into the meatloaf mix, you may see some red in the loaf and think it is not done but it is, it's just the sauce showing in it.

You can use the left over Sausage Crumbles for pizza topping or egg omelet or in spaghetti sauce to use them up. A breakfast casserole or rolled inside of croissants. They're very tasty.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 7:42PM
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janet_ks

I'm with a lot of the folks here...I'd add onion, garlic and definitely Worcestershire.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 9:50AM
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kcred

I think I've got it figured out, but thanks to you all for the suggestions. Here it is:

2 pounds ground beef
1 pound ground pork
2 Anaheim or Hatch peppers, finely diced
8 ounces sliced baby portobello mushrooms
5 tablespoons catsup for the meat mixture
2 tablespoons catsup for the topping
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1-1/2 teaspoons dried basil
2-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons salt
2 teaspoon black pepper
2 1/2 teaspoons Kitchen Bouquet
Worcestershire sauce, a few dashes
2 whole eggs
1 cup dry bread crumbs
Pam cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine meat. Then add catsup, Dijon mustard, basil, oregano, salt, pepper, Kitchen Bouquet, mushrooms, Anaheim peppers, Worcestershire sauce,and eggs. Mix, then add bread crumbs and mix well.
Line bottom tray of broiler pan with aluminum foil. Shape meat mixture into a 9x5-inch loaf on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Spread 2 tablespoons catsup over the top of the meatloaf before baking. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes, or until a thermometer registers 160 degrees. Let stand for 10 minutes. Cut the loaf into 1 inch slices.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2014 at 5:01PM
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ann_t

I would agree that the recipe not only needs garlic and onions, but it needs more salt. I'd be tempted to find a recipe that you like rather than try to fix this recipe.

~Ann

Here is a link that might be useful: Link to New Study on Low Salt Diets

    Bookmark   November 15, 2014 at 7:48PM
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alex9179

On a lark, we tried the Top Secret version of The Cheesecake Factory's meatloaf. It is delicious...and we've never had the restaurant's dish!

I've made it with 80/20 ground beef and left out the pork... still yummy. I don't care for ketchup with my meatloaf, so this recipe was right up my alley. I don't usually bother with the grilled onions and make a basic gravy because my kids still resist mushrooms, but we're getting there!

I think the aromatics and sage put it over the top.

EDIT: OOPS! That was for the caramelized onion thread! Fixed.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cheesecake Factory Copycat Meatloaf

This post was edited by alex9179 on Sun, Nov 16, 14 at 11:18

    Bookmark   November 15, 2014 at 11:45PM
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anotherlinda

Alex, your link is for an eBay listing. I did a search and found this one...Looks good. Is this the recipe you use?
Linda

Here is a link that might be useful: Cheesecake Factory meatloaf knock-off

    Bookmark   November 16, 2014 at 12:33AM
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pink_warm_mama_1

Skip the catsup! Use tomato sauce instead. Saute finely chopped onion, garlic, carrots, celery first. Saute mushrooms a bit. Add to meat etc.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2014 at 10:15AM
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alex9179

Another_linda, yep! I make meatloaf a variety of ways and call this my "company's comin" recipe...even though it might be just us!

The serving suggestions aren't followed unless company is here, either. Just make sure it rests before un-molding/slicing it.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2014 at 11:28AM
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beesneeds

I skip quite a bit in that OP recipe. But I would suggest using more salt, skip the bouquet and use Worcestershire instead- skip the ketchup entirely- or use a steak sauce instead. Saute your mushrooms and peppers.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2014 at 5:07PM
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marymd7

Worcestershire and onion for sure. Sage is the primary seasoning in my meatloaf, but I also use a generous amount of black pepper and a bit of all spice.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2014 at 11:09AM
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ann_t

I use sage in my meatloaf too. I've never thought of adding allspice but I like that idea. Thanks Marymd.

Would make it taste similar to the filling for my Tourtiere.

Meat Loaf Magnolia
==================
1 1/2 pounds ground veal or mixture of beef and veal

1 small onion finely chopped
1 to 2 cloves of garlic
2 slices Italian/French Bread soaked in milk
2 eggs
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 Tablespoons chopped parsley
1 tablespoons of dried herbs,
(sage and Thyme, a small amount of rosemary
olive oil

Sauce

Green peppercorns
mushrooms
1 to 2 cups chicken broth

Saute onion in olive oil until soft. Add minced garlic and saute for
30 seconds. Do not brown garlic

Soak bread in milk

In a large bowl add meat, Dijon mustard, chopped parsley, herbs, onions
and garlic and mix with hands. Squeeze bread to break up and add milk
and bread to mixture. Mix well and season with salt and pepper. Saute
a small piece to check for seasoning. Adjust to taste.

Shape meatloaf into a rectangle about 8 X 4 x 3 inches high and place
in a small roasting pan. Bake for 30 minutes and then add a small
amount of broth to the pan to prevent the bottom from becoming to
brown. Bake another 30 minutes and baste with the pan juices. Add
more broth if necessary. Cook another 10 minutes or until the meatloaf
is nicely browned.

Let cool and wrap in foil and refrigerate. Reserve pan juices.

Make a sauce by adding some green peppercorns and sauted mushrooms to
the pan juices.

Heat grill

Slice meatloaf into 1/2 inch thick slices and grill on both sides until
nicely marked and hot.

Serve with mashed potatoes

    Bookmark   November 18, 2014 at 11:46AM
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flowergirl70ks

Horseradish and dry mustard

    Bookmark   November 18, 2014 at 1:59PM
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TNKS

The best meat loafs are the simplest ones,more is not better
with this American staple.
The better the beef,the better the loaf
2lb 95% ground beef and 1lb Brisket ground fine and mixed well

K.I.S.S.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2014 at 2:46PM
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vieja_gw

I like to use some kind of smoke flavoring in the meat loaf: either the 'Liquid Smoke' or 'Spice Islands Smoke Salt'. If the meat has more fat, I'll add some shredded carrot or a bit of oatmeal to firm it up so it will slice well.. Also the usual chopped onion, garlic, tomato paste.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2014 at 9:28PM
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