Friday, May 30, 2014

Prison-Style Meatloaf – How to Stretch Your Meat Further

The main point of this prison-style meatloaf video is to show you what happens when you make meatloaf like your grandparents did. And no, I'm not accusing your relatives of spending time in the joint. During the Great Depression this type of dish was a popular strategy for stretching what little meat you had, into as filling a meal as possible.

As times got better, people went back to meatier versions, and now only low-budget, high-volume food service operations feature this culinary dinosaur. I did an Italian meatball-inspired version, which was quite nice, but this method will work with virtually any meatloaf recipe.

Most modern meatloaves call for about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of dry crumbs per two pounds of meat, and here we’re using 1 1/2 cups. It makes a significant difference in the texture, producing something much softer and moister. While not as "meaty," this does make for an interesting alternative to play around with. I'm looking at you, family of 10.

As I say in the video, I decided to spike my tomato sauce with too much balsamic vinegar, which rendered it not great. So, if you’re going to follow this recipe, just use a regular pasta sauce, or your favorite meatloaf glaze. I hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!


Ingredients for 1 giant meatloaf (about 10 large portions):
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds ground chuck
2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
cayenne to taste
2 large eggs, beaten
2 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano, finely grated (about a packed 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
1 1/2 cups very dry white bread crumbs (not toasted!)
1 1/2 cups milk to soak (squeeze out excess)
3 or 4 cups of tomato sauce to bake in, optional

41 comments:

Kritz said...

Is there any low-carb substitute for bread crumbs? Thanks!

Nathan said...

You think they use a lot of Parmagiano-Reggiano in prison?

Chef John said...

I think you missed the parm part of the video!

Chef John said...

Kritz, there is not.

Tony Arra said...

@Kritz oatmeal maybe? Not low-carb, but low GI.

I was way way way too excited to see meatloaf on the blog. I could eat my weight in meatloaf daily (which with this meatloaf, wouldn't be that hard).

For a glaze idea, I like to use soysauce and brown sugar. You can use some stock in the pan while it cooks to keep it moist, and to make a gravy when it's done.

Thanks chef!

Frank Luther said...

How ironic..a "tossed salad" with a prison meal..

Pure genius or just coincidence?

Sandy said...

Chef John, I think you stole my meatball recipe and loaf-ified it. I never realized my bread proportion was high by modern standards, but I guess that's the kind of meatball I grew up with, so I stick to it.

By the way, have you ever added a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce to your meatloaf or meatball mix? I think it makes for better flavor. Can't go wrong with umami, although that deliciously hefty mountain of parmesan certainly gives you a head start on that!

Mulligan said...

I like stretching my meat further.

Chef John said...

Sanda, funny you ask, since I don't put Worcestershire sauce in MB, but usually do in ML, so I should have tried that here!

Jay M. said...

Good call on the W sauce. Have to try. I've always used an old restaurant recipe for meatballs that called for soda water instead of milk. Thoughts?

The YouTube comment section for this is fantastic, by the way!

TBG said...

I use crushed saltine crackers to about 3lbs of ground burger and ketchup goes on top the last 30 minutes or so. That's how I was raised eating it and that's how I make it. Of course it must have bell peppers and onions too.

nightsmusic said...

I've always used this ratio of 1-1/2C breadcrumbs to 2# meat. My mother, who grew up during the depression, didn't cook fancy, but this is one of the dishes she taught me to cook when I was small. I do however, now use 1# bulk breakfast sausage and 1# ground chuck as well as a seasoned bread crumb for stuffing mixture as I think it's made the whole thing a lot tastier.

This does explain why I don't care much for 'modern' meatloaf though.

Dain said...

Chef John, sorry if this has already been posted but have you ever thought about signing up for the food network show chopped? I'd love to see you win that competition!!

Jason Smith said...

You're correct, CJ. Balsamic vinegar was the wrong choice.

Ryan said...

Would it be terribly wrong to use ground turkey for this?

estoude1 said...

Why can I not watch a recipe video without sitting through a g**d***ed commercial?

I'm perfectly happy to skip great food, before I'll be forced to sit through advertising.

Just my personal opinion...

midu said...

I made it tonight. Really good, the tomato sauce is a great addition to a regular meatload. However, be careful! I used Whole Food Market's breadcrumbs, which thin. After 20 minutes the milk was completely gone and not squizzable. It had become a paste that was nearly impossible to mix with the meat and the rest of the ingredients.

It didn't completely ruin the meatloaf but there were a few big chunks of breadcrumb paste in my slice that were not delicious.

My advice: more milk or less crumbs if they are very very finely crumbed.

Jef Willemsen said...

Right on time for the premiere of the new season of Orange Is The New Black... Looks like something Red would serve up.

Cooking Ventures said...

The milk and bread crumb mixture is called a panade. The meatloaf looks amazing!

brozuka a said...

I want to take a second and thank chef john for this recipe. Being the thirteen year old food inthusiest I am. This dish was easy to make and very good. My whole family loved it. Thank you chef john

Chef John said...

Glad you and they liked it!

Elizzaruth said...

There are just not enough words for yum. I Was not expecting this to be so amazing. Even without a glaze or sauce it is the most delicious meatloaf i have ever had. Kudos chef!

inchrisin said...

Chef John:

I really appreciate your modesty in some of your videos. The "I didn't like the balsamic tomato..." is very helpful. I like that you are able both try new things and appreciate the rest of the recipe and try to move on to make the recipe better next time. :)

Thanks!

Danny in London said...

I really enjoyed this meatloaf. Prison kidding aside, I would cook this in place of the typical dry meat-only loaf. I also enjoyed the comment about the fastfood industry, and how they "use breading" in their hamburgers. Not sure if this is proven, but makes sense to me.

Mike Romeu said...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ubfq7OuWPk

Chef John, recognize this music???

blogagog said...

This is surprisingly similar to the meatloaf I grew up on. I'm going to have to ask my Mom if she's a convict.

It would explain a lot. Or at least explain why she makes all of our knives herself.

Gary Rowan said...

I found the bread crumbs to be bland so I used Rotel tomatoes and chilies to add to the bread crumbs instead of milk. Just make sure your meat is lean so you don't end up with a casserole dish full of grease. Next time I will try oats as a filler.

forkboy said...

Dear Chef John,
What kind of range do you have, and are you pleased with it?

agentsking1 said...

I made this Alcatraz Meat Loaf and it tasted Fun-Key.....Real Fun Key! I must have screwed something up. My wife took one bite and announced "you're taking me out where.....!!

agentsking1 said...

I made this Alcatraz Meat Loaf and it tasted Fun-Key.....Real Fun Key! I must have screwed something up. My wife took one bite and announced "you're taking me out where.....!!

ItasF said...

Dear Chef John:
Thank you for making my meatloaf failure a thing of the past. Since mine always come out hard and crumbly I followed your advice to the letter and used the meat thermometer. It was juicy, light, flavorful yet subtle. I used a large can of Cento crushed tomatoes and it was way better than ketchup! I let it rest a day (because I made two dinners at the same time). Thanks for saving my family from a rocky meatloaf :) lol

ItasF said...

Dear Chef John:
Thank you for making my meatloaf failures a thing of the past. Since mine always come out hard and crumbly, I followed your advice to the letter and used the meat thermometer. It was juicy, light, flavorful yet subtle. I used a large can of Cento crushed tomatoes and it was way better than ketchup! I let it rest a day (because I made two dinners at the same time). Thanks for saving my family from a rocky meatloaf :) lol

supermakememoan said...

Hello Chef John! I was wondering how exactly did you get these bread crumbs? And what kind of bread was it? How was it broken down? Thank you! Can't wait to try this recipe since all your recipes rock!!!

Chef John said...

Just standard bread crumbs! It's the inside of a loaf of Italian bread, crumbled up and let to dry. Or toast in low oven until crisp.

diorama902 said...

Hi Chef John. Love your videos. Those of us who keep kosher cannot (as you probably know) add the grated cheese to the mixture. Seems like we're missing out. I've tried your meatloaf recipe with the pureed vegetables and it was great. Is this worth doing without the cheese? Or should we stick with the pureed vegetables?

Chef John said...

Sorry, but no idea whether it would be worth it to you! I would miss it, but you may not. I'd just sneak a little in anyway...who will know? ;)

Chris said...

Currently waiting on this to finish in the oven. I had the same issue with un-squeezable bread crumbs (my fault) and skimped on cheap Parmesan cheese. I've never had parmigiano reggiano and I know I'm missing out but I'm still evolving. Chef John, thanks for yet another entertaining and informative video.

Dreampie said...

Mmmmmm so good! I made this meatloaf but with Chef John's Cramy Mushroom sauce from another meatloaf recipe. I used regular champignon mushrooms (what I had on hand) fresh herbs from my window sill, and a splash of cooking Sherry. And beef.from a local prize bull that lost his spunk. Great recipe! So simple to make.
Thanks Chef!

Mark Neff said...

Chef John:
As far as bread crumbs could I use Panko italian style bread crumbs? I'm not for sure if they are dried or toasted but I do kike the flavor the have.
Thank you very much,
hippieneff69

Karyn Mastrude said...

THANK YOU, CHEF JOHN!!!! I followed your recipe nearly to the letter - I added a splash of steak sauce into the mix...I did make my own Sunday sauce to pour on top and of course, I used Italian San Marzano tomatoes, so your killer loaf + my killer sauce = EPIC good meatloaf! Muaw
The hubby RAVED!!!

olivia calvin said...

Trying this today, but in a salsbury style with brown gravy , onions and mushrooms , serving over noodles, but omitting the sauce on top of course, as it is a salsbury steak in gravy !