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Tips for making a perfect meat loaf

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A meat loaf is so versatile: you can eat a slice on top of mashed potatoes with fried onions and gravy; make a meat loaf sandwich, squidging a warm slice between two slices of thick batch bread or serve it warm with spicy jelly or chutney and a salad like a poor man’s paté.

For a recipe for Meat Loaf visit this page: we give you a ratio of meat to breadcrumbs and other ingredients so you can make a meat loaf to suit the size of your baking dish.

How to make a great meat loaf …

– Line the baking tin with strips of streaky bacon before adding the minced meat mixture and fold the ends over the top of the meat loaf – it will add flavour, keep the meat loaf moist while it’s cooking, stop the meat loaf sticking to the tin and help it to keep its shape so it is easier to cut. Use smoked bacon for a real treat.

– Adding breadcrumbs to the meat loaf mixture will help to lighten the meat loaf and stop the mixture becoming too dense. Make sure to add an egg along with the breadcrumbs so it doesn’t make the meat loaf dry.

– You can choose just one type of minced meat or mix it up: half minced beef with minced pork works well or use equal quantities of minced beef, pork and veal.

– Mix the ingredients for the meat loaf together gently so you don’t squash the minced meat and end up with a dense, compacted meat loaf. Never squeeze the mixture or it will have the texture of a golf ball.

– To make your meat loaf tastier, sprinkle it with a layer of freshly grated Parmesan 15 minutes before the end of cooking. Remove from the oven when the Parmesan layer is golden and bubbling.

– Halfway through cooking the meat loaf, syringe it with a little soy or Worcestershire sauce mixed with hot stock to keep it moist.

– If you don’t have a loaf tin, shape the mixture into a loaf shape, oil a baking dish, line it with tin foil or baking parchment, sit the loaf in the middle and bake as normal.

– You can also shape the meat loaf mixture into balls and bake them in the oven on an oiled baking tray. They will take about 20-25 minutes to cook. (They will obviously now be called meat balls, not meat loaf!)

– Make mini-meat loaves in a standard-sized muffin pan or mini-loaf tin: oil each of the holes and divide the meat loaf mixture between them. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the juices run clear from the meat when you insert a skewer (take one out and cut it open to be sure it is cooked right through – muffin tins vary in size and so will the cooking times). Always oil the tin well and if you are not using bacon to cover the mini-meat loaves, place parchment paper at the bottom of the holes to stop the loaves sticking.

– Meat loaf freezes well. Make it, cool it, wrap it in two layers of clingfilm, wrap in another layer of tin foil, and freeze for up to 3 months. If you are going to freeze the meat loaf, always use freshly minced meat, not meat that has been previously frozen. Go to your butcher and ask her/him to mince the meat to be certain.

 

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