Oh meatloaf. I’m pretty sure meatloaf will never be glamorous or sexy. Most every other comfort food has been high-browed over the past decade or so. Restaurants have glammed up mac and cheese, chicken and waffles, grilled cheese, tater tots…you name it, it’s been turned into a glorified gastro version in a high-end bar or pub somewhere.
But, I’m pretty sure even if you doused it in shavings of white truffles, laced it with foie gras, and accompanied it with caviar, meat loaf still wouldn’t be glamorous. After all, it’s called meat. loaf. It doesn’t really stand a chance.
And that’s ok.
Because in all of its simple, unattractive meaty loaf shape, meatloaf is there for you. (If you eat meat. If you don’t, can you make a lentil or tempeh loaf equivalent, or some such? I feel like that would fill the same role.) It is easy and it is delicious and it makes a fantastic leftover sandwich, an attribute that gives any particular meal at least 5 extra points in its favor.
This meatloaf, adapted from a funny blog called Lady and Pups that bills itself as “an angry food blog” (I find that very funny), is particularly delicious. Like beyond. For starters, it has finely chopped kimchi, which automatically meant that I was going to like it. But, then it goes and explodes with all sorts of other savory flavors too. All your favorite stir fry flavors packed into one humble meatloaf. Ginger, garlic, sesame, soy sauce, gochujang, the works. Like Korean tacos and ramen ravioli, it’s one of those works of fusion that actually works. And makes you want to possibly never go back to your original version.
Seriously. It’s like meatloaf has been taking flavor steroids. Except, legal ones. Like this particular meatloaf was born with really amazing genes and has been training at altitude. Or something.
And did I even mention the glaze yet? It combines spicy chili sauce with a bit of more traditional ketchup and mustard (don’t worry, it works!) and a sweet swirl of maple syrup plus some nutty toasted sesame oil. You swipe it all over the meatloaf in two doses, once before baking and one more time shortly before it comes out of the oven. This way you build up layers of flavor, with some bits cooking to a crackly sheen and others becoming thick and caramelized.
And like a more traditional meatloaf, it makes an excellent sandwich. Try wedging a slice into a gooey grilled cheese – you’ll discover that meatloaf actually can get pretty dang close to glamorous. Low-brow glamorous.
- 2 lbs. ground meat (I use a mix of beef and pork)
- 1 cup finely chopped kimchi
- 6 Tbs. milk
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 Tbs. grated ginger
- ½ of a yellow onion, grated on a box grater
- 1½ cups panko breadcrumbs (gf breadcrumbs work well, if you’re gf)
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 3 Tbs. corn or tapioca starch (this is additional binder, but it might work without it, I haven’t tried yet)
- 1 Tbs. soy sauce
- 1 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. toasted sesame oil
- a few grinds of black pepper
- For the glaze:
- 2 Tbs. gochujang or sriracha or another Asian chili paste
- 2 Tbs. ketchup
- 2 Tbs. maple syrup (or brown sugar)
- 1 Tbs. mustard
- 1 Tbs. toasted sesame oil
- Preheat your oven to 450F. In a large mixing bowl, add the ground meat, kimchi, milk, garlic, ginger, grated onion, bread crumbs, egg, corn starch, soy sauce, salt, 2 tsp. sesame oil, and black pepper.
- Mix everything together really well – I recommend using your hands because you really can’t get it all adequately combined otherwise.
- Line a rimmed baking sheet or pan with parchment paper. Form the meat mixture into a loaf shape and place it on the pan. Mix all the glaze ingredients together and brush half of the glaze all over the meatloaf.
- Put the meatloaf in the oven and cook it at 450F for 10-15 minutes, to start giving it a crust. Then, turn the heat down to 400F and bake for about another 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, take the meatloaf out and brush the remaining glaze over it. Return it to the oven and bake another 10-20 minutes, or until the internal temperature is 160F. Take it out of the oven and let it rest 10-15 minutes before slicing.
- I served our meatloaf with a sort of cabbage and mango slaw with rice vinegar dressing. I bet it would be good be sauteed bok choy and rice or even mashed potatoes as well. And, of course, it makes awesome sandwiches.