An easy formula to help you to get the proportions of ingredients correct when you make meatloaf or meatballs. You can scale the recipe up or down as required.
MEATLOAF RATIO – MASTER RECIPE
– You can make a meatloaf from 100% beef or pork or you can add more flavour and change the texture by using 60-80% beef and 40-20% pork mince. You can also use 100% of turkey mince or 80% minced turkey and 20% pork.
– For every 450g of minced meat, add 1 teaspoon of salt and a 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper. Add one egg and 40g of fresh breadcrumbs or Japanese Panko.
Meatloaf flavourings: Add dried or fresh finely chopped herbs (1 teaspoon of mixed herbs or Herbes de Provence or 1/4 bunch of finely chopped parsley or 10 leaves of finely chopped basil or 1/2 sprig of finely chopped rosemary or 3 sprigs of finely chopped thyme per 450g meat); a finely chopped cooked shallot or small onion or a minced clove of garlic; a few splashes of soy or Worcestershire sauce, a healthy dollop of your favourite mustard and a good spoon or two of tomato ketchup.
METHOD TO MAKE MEATLOAF
Line an oblong tin with strips of streaky bacon and fill with the meatloaf mixture. Press down gently and fold the rest of the streaky bacon over the meatloaf. If you are not using streaky bacon, you can sprinkle grated cheese on top of the meatloaf so it becomes bubbly and golden – it also helps to ‘glue’ the meatloaf together when it cools.
– Bake the meatloaf at 200C/400F/Gas 6 for 35-45 minutes. Make a cut in the middle of a meatloaf with a sharp knife to check it is cooked through – the juices should run clear.
MEATBALL RATIO – MASTER RECIPE
You can decide the ratio of beef to pork or use all beef: we use a ratio of between 60-80% beef mince and 40-20% pork mince depending on our recipe. For meatballs with pasta for example, we use 70% beef to 30% pork. For firmer meatballs that won’t fall apart we use a higher ratio of beef (80/20 ratio of beef to pork). Where the meatball can be softer – say if you are adding them to a tomato sauce for pasta, we use more pork. You can also make mini-meat loaves (see our photograph). You get 8 mini-meat loaves from 900g of meat and bake them for 25-30 minutes at 200C/400F/Gas 6 until golden and cooked through.
– For 450g of meat, we soak 40g breadcrumbs (about a slice of white bread with crusts removed) in milk, and add them to the mixture along with one egg and a little finely chopped fresh sage and rosemary. Season with 1 teaspoon of salt and a 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper.
METHOD TO MAKE MEATBALLS
– Form the mixture into meatballs, and if you wish, make a hole in the centre, press in a few toasted pine nuts or small cubes of mozzarella as a little surprise, and seal. (Use an ice cream scoop to shape even-sized meatballs.)
– Bake the meatballs at 200C/400F/Gas 6 for 15-20 minutes depending on their size. Cut into a meatball to make sure it is cooked through and return to the oven for a few minutes if they are still pink in the middle.
– If you are making Italian meatballs, make our Stand-by Tomato Sauce, and add the meatballs to the sauce and reheat for 15-20 minutes. Serve with tagliatelle or linguine.
TO MAKE GLUTEN-FREE MEATLOAF OR MEATBALLS
Use gluten-free breadcrumbs instead of ordinary bread.
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CURATED RECIPE Felicity Cloake perfected a recipe for meatballs in The Guardian after trying Angela Hartnett’s recipe for meatballs among others.