Meatloaf is a classic – nay, ubiquitous – comfort dish and requires little intro, yet without hesitation I offer this recipe to you as simply the best classic meatloaf you can possibly make.
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I don't claim it to be “the best” because I think it should win awards or accolades or county fair ribbons, but rather because it simply satisfies – every single time. It's rich, bold, and smoky, and exactly what unfussy meatloaf should be.
How Meatloaf Nourishes
Pastured meats – like the beef and pork in this meatloaf – boast a nutritional profile rich in omega-3 fats, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), a fatty acid known to promote weight loss and prevent chronic disease. And depending on how much sun the animal has been exposed to, the meat may be a source of Vitamin D, as well, which is certainly most welcome during dark winter days!
However, while I certainly encourage you to source pastured meats whenever possible, even if you use conventional meats, you're still taking in quality protein that's high in B-vitamins and minerals, such as zinc and selenium.
Let's take a quick side-trip though…
As many of you know, I am a huge proponent of eating meat in balance. That not only means eating appropriate portions of meat, but also eating muscle meats in balance with the other types of proteins we get from animals, namely organ meats and collagen.
Typically we in the Western world eat solely muscle meats – all those gorgeous roasts and steaks and tenderloins and ground beef – to the exclusion of offal and collagen.
However, consider this:
In addition to what I listed above, muscle meats contain high levels of the amino acids cysteine, tryptophan, and methionine, which contribute to cell growth and repair, cellular communication, antioxidant action, and detoxification.
However, these same lovely, beneficial amino acids are also known to be inflammatory over time, which is why red meat has gotten a bad rap in mainstream health reports over the last decades.
By contrast, however, gelatin and organ meats (and egg yolks, interestingly enough) contain elevated levels of the complementary amino acids glycine, choline, and proline, three anti-inflammatory amino acids which complement the amino acid profile of muscle meats and form a complete protein. By balancing these amino acid profiles and eating varied meat proteins in balance allows each amino acid to perform its particular function with minimal inhibition.
Eating dark leafy greens and other colorful vegetables, such as red cabbage, carrots, and bell peppers, are the final “topping on the cake,” so to speak, in ensuring our bodies get all they need from our food, as they not only provide a wallop of B-vitamins and minerals themselves, but complement the animal proteins to make sure all those healthy fats and nutritional building blocks are able to do their jobs.
However, I digress. This post isn't about offal or how to eat more organ meats or the importance of eating leafy greens. This post is about this delectably satisfying meatloaf, which you are more than welcome to make WITHOUT organ meat (and to be honest, I prefer to serve organ meats by themselves, such as in my kids' favorite liver recipe, rather than IN the meatloaf itself).
Plus, I've loaded it with eggs, which act both as a binder and a complimentary protein. See? Liver not required. 🙂
One last quip, however. If you do add offal, here are two smart tips:
Tip #1: If you add liver to this meatloaf, you can reduce the “liver-y” flavor by placing the livers in a small container the night before and covering with a mix of cool water and the juice of one lemon. Lift each liver to make sure the lemon water is in contact with each surface, then let sit for 8-12 hours until you're ready to make the meatloaf. Drain the water and chop very finely.
Tip #2: If you'd like to add organ meat but liver is out of the question, lean toward other “meatier” organs, such as heart. Mince the heart as finely as possible and use no more than 20% heart in the meat mixture.
Want to know more about this delightful tangent? 🙂 Here are a few links you might appreciate:
- The #1 Reason We All Need to Eat More Gelatin
- 35+ Simple Ways to Eat More Gelatin
- Amazing Egg Yolks & How to Eat More Raw Egg Yolks
- Are You Eating Too Many Muscle Meats?
- Why Eating the Odd Bits Improves Your Health
- Beyond Good & Evil
Meatloaf: Comfort Food & Easy Meals
But enough about nutrition! (Sorry about the tangent….) This meatloaf recipe is all about feel-good comfort food.
Easy meal-planning is a bonus too. I usually make a double or triple batch and place the extras in the freezer for super-easy meals (especially right before a baby is about to be born). Just pull out of the freezer and bake, preferably thawing it first, but in a pinch, it can go straight from freezer to oven. And freezing them as mini-meatloaves makes it even easier!
To freeze for later use
To freeze as mini-meatloaves
To serve in a school lunch