Meatloaf has been a staple for busy cooks for generations — and with good reason. It's simple, it's affordable, and it's a great way to add both protein and vegetables to your diet. However, those looking to make the most of their next meatloaf should make sure to cook those veggies first.
There are a few essential reasons why tossing raw vegetables into the mix is a big mistake. First and most importantly, it's vital to ensuring they have the right texture. Unless your vegetables and aromatics are sauteed first, the relatively gentle heat (typically around 350 degrees Fahrenheit) won't fully cook them if they're integrated into the interior of the meatloaf. The result is unpleasantly crunchy veggie pieces in your otherwise well-cooked loaf that don't incorporate their full flavor into the mix.
In addition, cooking your vegetables before adding them to your loaf is critical to developing the right texture for your meatloaf. Raw vegetables release significant amounts of water as they cook, which can make even the most carefully constructed meatloaf mushy.
Avoiding Other Meatloaf Errors
Along with failing to soak your breadcrumbs first in milk or egg (a crucial step to preventing dry meatloaf), this unfortunately remains one of the most common meatloaf mistakes. Another frequent error is overmixing, which compacts the meat and makes the final loaf tougher. Be gentle, and mix until just combined, no further.
The other biggest meatloaf mistake you're making comes after you've baked it. It's tempting to slice it right away and dig in, but a few minutes of patience is vital. This allows the loaf to rest and the juices to cool and evenly spread through the loaf, preventing them from running out as soon as it's cut. Some also consider the traditional technique of baking meatloaf in a pan a mistake, arguing that a more "free form" loaf cooked on a baking sheet exposes more meat to the hot oven air, creating a better crust and glaze.
Take the time to cook your veggies for a few minutes. This little bit of work will do wonders to improve your next comforting, homestyle meatloaf meal.
Read the original article on Mashed.