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Meatloaf recipe, what am I missing?

Posted by kcred (My Page) on
Sat, May 3, 14 at 14:39

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!


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.

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Meatloaf recipe, what am I missing?

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

RE: Meatloaf recipe, what am I missing?

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'.

RE: Meatloaf recipe, what am I missing?

I always make mine with just pork. You can always add worcestershire sauce and/or montreal seasoning

RE: Meatloaf recipe, what am I missing?

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

RE: Meatloaf recipe, what am I missing?

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.

RE: Meatloaf recipe, what am I missing?

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 I want meatloaf.

RE: Meatloaf recipe, what am I missing?

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.

RE: Meatloaf recipe, what am I missing?

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

RE: Meatloaf recipe, what am I missing?

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.

RE: Meatloaf recipe, what am I missing?

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.


RE: Meatloaf recipe, what am I missing?

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.

RE: Meatloaf recipe, what am I missing?

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.

RE: Meatloaf recipe, what am I missing?

"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!

RE: Meatloaf recipe, what am I missing?

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.


RE: Meatloaf recipe, what am I missing?

"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.

RE: Meatloaf recipe, what am I missing?

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.

RE: Meatloaf recipe, what am I missing?

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

RE: Meatloaf recipe, what am I missing?

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.

RE: Meatloaf recipe, what am I missing?

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... :-)

RE: Meatloaf recipe, what am I missing?

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?"

RE: Meatloaf recipe, what am I missing?

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 ½ to 2 lbs. ground beef 1 ¼ tsp.salt
½ cup Jimmy Dean Orig. Sausage Crumbles
1 egg ¼ tsp. pepper
1 medium onion chopped ½ 16 oz can tomato sauce
save some for topping or similar size

combine ground beef and sausage crumbles, beaten egg, salt, pepper and ½ can tomato sauce and shape into loaf

use the other half of tomato sauce
½ 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.

RE: Meatloaf recipe, what am I missing?

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

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