A good meatloaf epitomizes great comfort food, and warms my cockles (what are cockles anyway?)  Paired with maybe some mashed potatoes or mac ‘n cheese, some peas or green beans for our vegetable, I’m in heaven.  If the meatloaf is good.  If it’s not dry, and tasteless, or mushy and gross…both if which happen more than they should.  There’s no big tricks to making a good meatloaf, just a few cooking techniques that you need to learn. The meatloaf version I show you here, is my standard recipe, for which I’ll also add a mushroom sauce, which my wife actually prefers over the more traditional (at least in my house growing up) tomato based sauce.  I’ll show you the few techniques to make sure the meat stays nice and moist, is flavorful, and still has a nice crusty outside that gives a great contrast in texture.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I do. 

Recipe Overview & Keys to Success

To make the best meatloaf with mushroom sauce, just follow these few simple cooking techniques:

  1. Use a combination of meat (yes you can use chicken, turkey, etc, but those meats have less flavor, so I may up the amount of other ingredients, or even add others).  I like pork and beef.
  2. Make sure the meat is well seasoned…before you cook it.  After I have the meatloaf mixed, I fry off about a tablespoon and taste it.  Then I can tell if I need to add more salt and pepper, before cooking the whole thing.
  3. The eggs and bread crumbs I add, give the meat a more tender texture; the vegetables add both tenderness and flavor.  You can mess with the amounts, just note the less you use, the more firm; the more you use the more tender
  4. I don’t use a loaf pan, which tends to steam the meat.  Free form (on a cookie sheet) roasts the meat and gives the entire outside a nice crust
  5. Finally, for the sauce, cook the mushrooms thoroughly to draw out their flavor and to give them some texture.  Up to 20 minutes over medium heat would be great – really let the internal moisture evaporate.

Ingredients for Meatloaf (for ~4)

  • 1 lbs ground beef
  • 1 lbs ground pork
  • 1 onion diced
  • 1 carrot shredded
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 large, heaping handful of baby spinach
  • 3/4 cup bread crumbs
  • 3 eggs
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 slices of bacon
  • 1 cup of diced crimini or button mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 shallot diced
  • Pinch of thyme
  • Cup of beef or chicken stock

Making the Meatloaf

  • Add a few glugs of olive oil to a hot sauté pan, and cook the carrot, onion, and 3/4’s of the garlic (all seasoned with salt and pepper) until the onions become translucent
  • Add the baby spinach, and toss in the pan until the spinach is wilted down, and set aside to cool
  • In a large mixing bowl, add the beef, pork, bread crumbs, eggs, a generous amount of salt and pepper, and the now room-temperature vegetable together and mix thoroughly
  • Cook a tablespoon size piece of the meatloaf mix, and taste it to see if you need more seasoning; adjust as needed
  • Form the meat loaf into a meatloaf shape, and lay it on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil (make clean up easier)
  • Top the meatloaf with the strips of bacon, and put it all into a 385 degree oven to bake; it should take about 45 minutes, but the best way to tell is a meat thermometer
  • You are going to allow the internal temperature to go to 155, and then remove from the oven to rest; but while that happens make the sauce
  • After about 20 minutes in the oven (or when the thermometer reads 115ish) start the sauce
  • Add some olive oil to a hot sauce pan, and then add the chopped mushrooms – season with salt and pepper
  • Allow the mushrooms to cook until almost all the moisture has evaporated, the mushrooms are browned, with crispy edges and a soft interior
  • Add the flour to form a roux – you may need to add a bit more oil, as you’re looking for a toothpaste like consistency with the flour and oil mixed together
  • Also add the chopped shallot, remaining garlic, and the thyme
  • Turn the heat to low and allow the roux to cook for about 5 minutes
  • Slowly add the beef stock, stirring as you add.  The roux will immediately thicken, then thin out as you add more stock
  • Bring the sauce to a simmer, and evaluate the thickness.  Allow it to reduce on a heavy simmer if you want it thicker, hold where it is, or thin it out with more stock or water
  • Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning if needed
  • After the meatloaf has rested for 5 – 10 minutes, slice off the portions you’d like and spoon the mushroom sauce over the top

Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Wine Recommendation:This is a tough one, and all kinds of varietals can go great with meatloaf.  I really love the way mushrooms and pinot noir pair together, and would probably go with a point.  I’d prefer a style that was more spicy/earthy, rather than fruity, and would suggest something from the Russian River Valley, in Sonoma California, known for their big, full bodied pinots.

Total Time: 
160minutes
Prep Time: 
40minutes
Cook Time: 
120minutes
Main Ingredient: