So, How Do You Get That Crust On Your Meatloaf?

January 25th, 2008 by Jeff in General Cooking

About two to three times a month lately, we have been eating meatloaf at our house. It is pretty much a staple in many home kitchens in the United States. My favorite part of the entire meatloaf genre is that wonderfully, there is no one recipe. Just like there is no one mixture of tea leaves better than another, meatloaf is as versatile as you need it to be.

With all that being said, there are some techniques that can really help make the dish regardless of what ingredients you use and let me tell you, there is list as long as the largest cookbook of ingredients you can use in a meatloaf. It used to be when I was a kid, that meatloaf was what you made with all the leftovers from the week. However, over the years it seems to now be mostly made with fresh ingredients. I think this has gone a long way to ending the “meatloaf that sits in your stomach like a rock” syndrome.

When I make it, I usually find that I make way too much and end up giving a few plates away to neighbors and friends. Many of these people are either single, or retired (no, I do not live in Florida 🙂 ) so they really appreciate a home cooked meal. One comment that I keep getting is on how much they love the fact that my meatloaf has a crust on it, top and bottom. One friend begged me to tell how I did it (which wasn’t necessary). Got me thinking that he is not the only one. I know I have had some mushy meatloaf in my time, so perhaps it is time to let my “secret” out of the bag.

I am sure others have figured this out, but when I discovered it myself years ago, it was very satisfying as I just improved my meatloaf immensely. Well here it is:

If you make your meatloaf in a loaf pan, stop. Put that loaf pan away and save it for making bread. 🙂 Take a regular cookie sheet and place some parchment paper on the bottom. You may have to use scissors to cut the paper so it doesn’t hang over the sides of the dish. Preheat the oven to 450.

Form your loaf on the pan and paper. If the loaf seems to flatten out quickly, then you need more breadcrumbs and/or bread and probably another egg. I myself use four eggs to every pound of meat, but whatever you use is fine as long as it binds the meat. The breadcrumbs should hold the shape together.

Once you have formed the loaf, drizzle the top with a little extra virgin olive oil, or canola oil. Using your hand, spread the oil all over the loaf so the entire thing (except the bottom) is coated with a light layer of the oil. Don’t go crazy with it, just a light coat.

Don’t put your topping on yet (i.e. a ketchup based glaze). Turn the oven down to 400, and wait two minutes. Place the meatloaf in the oven on a rack in the middle of the oven. Cook for thirty minutes and remove from oven and add your topping or glaze. Place back in the oven and cook until finished (20 – 30 minutes more usually).

Let the meatloaf cool for about five minutes before you cut into it, just to let it settle a little. It will make it easier to cut into slices. As soon as you cut the first slice, you will see the crust I am talking about. Good luck!

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