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Mini Meat Loaves

Mini Meat Loaves

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Mini meat loaves were a top selling item at The Virtual Cook, a catering and take/out business that I had on Shelter Island, NY.  They are tasty and handy.  Though not difficult to make, they do require a little time, but you’ll be glad you did it when you can pull them from the freezer and have a good dinner in a hurry – along with a salad or some roasted vegetables.

Ingredients – Read this as well as the method before shopping and planning your strategy.

  • 5-6 pound package of ground beef (preferable lean)
  • 2 pounds ground pork
  • 1 green and 1 red/yellow or orange pepper
  • 2 medium sweet onions
  • 3-4 stalks celery
  • 2-3 carrots
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 cup half/half
  • 1/4 cup dijon mustard
  • 5 eggs
  • 1-1/2 cup bread crumbs
  • 1-2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg
Method
  • Cut all the vegetables in a small dice (this will take awhile but it’s worth it).  It should be roughly 8 cups total.
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  • Mince the garlic and set aside separately.
  • Heat a saute pan to medium/high heat and saute the vegetables in batches (so you don’t crowd the pan too much and cause the vegetables to steam), seasoning each batch with a little garlic/salt and pepper.
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  • Let the vegetables cool completely (this can be done a day ahead of time and they can be refrigerated overnight if that best suits your schedule).
  • Assemble the remaining ingredients and combine the eggs, ketchup, 1/2&1/2, mustard, and dry ingredients in bowl, mix with whisk.

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  • Combine meats in a large container.  Distribute vegetables, egg mixture and bread crumbs across the top and then mix all to evenly incorporate the ingredients.

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  • Note:  if the mixture seems to wet and loose, add more bread crumbs.  If it seems dry, add another egg with some half and half  – it’s not an exact science and the ratios can be changed.
  • Using a scale, weigh out portions of meat loaf  – I generally make a 5ounce loaf, but you can decide what size works for you.
  • Evenly shape the loaves – it doesn’t matter how (they can be round, squarish, short and fat or taller and thinner – it just matters that they are all about the same shape so they cook evenly.)
  • Place on cookie sheets, leaving space in between.

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  • Bake in preheated 350degree oven “until done”.  (This will depend on the size that you make them, the size of your oven and how well it is calibrated.  I cooked my 5 ounce loaves approximately 22 minutes in a fairly large oven, but they should feel firm to the touch and if you really can’t tell if they are done, gently insert a knife in the middle of one and take a peak, it it looks raw, it needs more time.
  • When they have cooled completely, wrap separately in foil, then you can package them in freezer bags if you like.
  • When you want one, remove from freezer, allow a couple of hours to thaw and then reheat in microwave for a couple of minutes (time depends on your microwave, but they are already cooked so you just need to reheat.
  • Eat, enjoy.

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Yield:  34 5-ounce loaves, 2 for dinner and 32 in the freezer (one baby 2-ounce was a snack for Dad!

Meat Loaf Tips

  • Break the preparation into 2 days if you like – shop and prep the veggies on day one, then finish on day two – it’s not a complicated recipe but it does take awhile since you are making a lot.
  • You can do different ratios of vegetables if you wish – don’t like carrots, use more celery, etc.  But the vegetables do make it tasty and it’s a sneaky way to get at least a little vegetable into picky eaters.
  • You can add more/less seasoning as you like.
  • Using a kitchen scale will make it easy to portion it out evenly.
  • Baking the loaves in pans lined with parchment paper makes cleanup easier.
  • Using the individual foil wrappers makes it easy to wrap each one individually.

 

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