Making meatloaf is like putting a blank canvas on an easel and following your inspiration. It lends itself to countless variations, limited only by your imagination or maybe what you might have on-hand at the moment. Most cooks have a favorite meatloaf recipe, and there are many terrific methods for putting a meatloaf together.
The meat used in a meatloaf offers many creative options. You can use a single meat – like ground beef – or a combination that might include a little ground pork, veal or lamb. I’ve had meatloaf that incorporated ground ham and crumbled fried bacon. Then you have all kinds of vegetables, cheese and seasonings that you can throw in the mix.
Generally, most meatloaf recipes call for ingredients that help bind the meat together, keep it moist and extend (when you’re a little short on meat!) the volume. Often these are ingredients like beaten eggs, milk, and breadcrumbs, but you could use a number of alternatives.
This meatloaf was inspired by our love of the many wonderful flavors of Greek food. It includes a number of herbs and spices common in Greek cuisine, along with things like Kalamata olives and feta cheese.
1 ½ lb. ground chuck
½ lb. ground pork (could also use ground lamb)
1 cup milk
2 eggs, beaten
1 medium onion, diced and sautéed until soft and brown in 3 TBSP. butter
1 cup crushed saltine crackers (could also use breadcrumbs)
1 cup Kalamata olives, pitted and roughly chopped
4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
1 tsp. each of the following: salt, pepper, cinnamon, oregano and tarragon
1 ½ tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. thyme
1 tomato, sliced
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except the sliced tomato. Combine with clean hands GENTLY until everything is just mixed. Transfer mixture to a large sheet pan or 9x13 baking dish that has been coated with non-stick spray. Shape mixture into loaf shape with hands and place in 350 degree oven for 40 minutes. Remove from oven, place slices of tomato on top of meatloaf and return to oven for another 20 minutes. Remove and LET REST for 10 minutes. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve.