Thursday, February 4, 2010

Creole Meatloaf with Tomato Gravy

A tender and tasty meatloaf, infused with the trinity, seared and cooked in a roux based tomato gravy.

Creole Meatloaf with Tomato Gravy

When you have a little time on your hands, I hope that you'll give this meatloaf a try. It's totally different from your mama's meatloaf, has a few additional steps you don't usually see in a meatloaf, so it takes a bit of time to come together, but it is so worth it! Searing creates a tender and juicy meatloaf that thanks to our famous Trinity, just full of flavor. Don't expect any leftovers to last long.

Since we're taking the step of searing a meatloaf here, you really do need a leaner ground beef. Anything with a higher fat content is likely to break apart on you, as is a ground turkey. If you prefer to use turkey, or a higher fat beef, just skip the searing process and bake the meatloaf in the tomato gravy.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. You start with 1-1/2 pounds of lean ground beef - not a mix - just plain ole ground beef. I used 97/3. And then, of course, we have The Trinity. Cook that down with some butter until tender, toss in some garlic and cook a little longer. Transfer the mixture to a separate plate to cool. You're going to need the skillet again in a second.

Make a slurry of the seasoned bread crumbs, evaporated milk and one egg. Add that to the ground beef.

Add some salt and pepper then add the cooled Trinity.

Mix it together to form a loaf. If it's falling apart on you and not binding well, add some additional bread crumbs and reform it.  Sprinkle it all over with some flour.

Heat 1 tablespoon of canola oil over medium high heat in a separate skillet (not the one you already used but another one) and very carefully transfer the whole meatloaf to the hot skillet. Begin to sear the meatloaf on all sides, turning carefully so as not to break it up.  Meanwhile, heat 1/4 cup of canola oil in the smaller skillet you used earlier and sprinkle in 2 tablespoons of flour.

Cook over medium high heat, stirring constantly, until the flour reaches a tan, peanut butter color.  Remove from the heat to let cool slightly, turn burner down to medium.  Add the tomato sauce and one can of plain water very quickly, whisking it in. Careful because it may splatter some if the roux has not cooled down enough. Return to the heat, add the Worcestershire, and simmer for 15 minutes.

Pour the roux over the meatloaf and place in the oven to bake for about 1 hour, basting occasionally. Remove and let set for about 10 minutes before slicing.

Slice, plate and spoon a bit of the tomato gravy on top.

Recipe: Creole Meatloaf with Tomato Gravy

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 45 min |Cook time: 1 hour | Yield: About 6 to 8 servings

  • 1-1/2 pounds of very lean ground beef*
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped fine
  • 1/2 cup of green bell pepper, chopped fine
  • 1 stalk (rib) of celery, chopped fine
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup of canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons of all purpose flour (for the roux)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can of tomato sauce
  • 1 can of water
  • 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup of evaporated milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup of seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of freshly cracked black pepper
  • Pinch of cayenne
  • Additional flour, for coating
  • 1 tablespoon of canola oil, for browning

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the ground beef in a large bowl; set aside.

Heat the butter over medium and cook the onion, bell pepper and celery until tender; add the garlic, cook for another minute, transfer to a plate to cool.

Wipe out the skillet, and add the 1/4 cup of canola oil. Heat over medium high heat and stir in the flour. Cook and stir until it is browned, remove from the heat, and let cool slightly. Slowly whisk in the tomato sauce, water and Worcestershire and return to the heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Whisk together the milk and egg; stir in the bread crumbs and add that mixture to the ground beef. Add the salt, pepper, cayenne and cooked veggies; mix gently and shape into a loaf. The mixture should be firm. If it is breaking apart, return to the bowl and additional bread crumbs until it holds together.

In a large, oven safe skillet, heat the tablespoon of oil over medium high heat. Carefully transfer the meatloaf to the skillet and sear on all sides, turning carefully. Pat any cracks that form back together. Note: You can skip the searing process if you prefer. Once all sides have browned, pour the tomato gravy over the meatloaf and transfer the entire skillet to a 350 degree F oven for about 1 hour, basting occasionally.

When an instant read thermometer reads 160 degrees F the meatloaf is done. Allow to sit for about 10 to 15 minutes before slicing. Serve slices with a bit of the tomato gravy spooned over the top.

Cook's Notes: This works best with an extra lean ground beef, so don't be tempted to try a higher fat ground beef because it just won't hold together for the searing process. One reader also substituted ground turkey and had that issue as well. If you prefer to use either a ground turkey or a fattier ground beef, omit the searing process.


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©Deep South Dish
Adapted from River Roads II
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Posted by on February 4, 2010
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  1. Oh my, I will definitely be making this recipe. It's only breakfast time here but I sure wish I had some meatloaf right now. I never thought of browning a meatloaf before baking or using evaporated milk--I usually use regular milk. I can just taste the gravy with some homemade mashed potatoes. Thanks for the recipe. Sheila in NC

  2. This looks and sounds outstanding and I've never heard of searing a meat loaf, but like the idea - you deep south folks do things different :).

  3. This looks really good Mary. I am always looking for different ways for meat loaf. I love how it is browned a bit first. And tomato gravy looks delish.

  4. I'm drooling. I LOVE meatloaf. There are so many ways to make a good one. I can't wait to try this version. Hey Shelia, what's wrong with having meatloaf for breakfast? Hee!

  5. I can't believe I haven't found you until now, we have so much in common! From the love of Pioneer Woman, julia, SITS, tasty kitchen, mommy's kitchen...I'm so glad to have found you! anne

  6. How many ways can I say YUM? Slap some of that on a sandwich for me!

  7. This meatloaf looks great Mary! I love the idea of searing the meat before baking! Next meatloaf I make it will be yours!

    I made and planning to post about meatloaf on my blog - do you mind if I linked your delish meatloaf?

  8. BTW Mary; what is the purpose of the evaporated milk? Could I leave it out or sub something else?

  9. Henri, it's a type of milk that has had much of the water taken out of it to make it more concentrated. It's added for moisture & helps to keep the meat from drying out. You could use a bit of heavy cream or just plain whole milk instead.

    Yes it is okay to link to my recipe! I ask that you do not use any of my images however, and that you provide a permanent link on your post. Let me know if you have any questions though.

    Thanks so much for your sweet comments!! It means a lot to hear from my readers.

  10. Mary I just found your blog today and have spent the last hour going through your recipes. My mom has always made her meatloaf in a red gravy. Although she cooks her in her iron pot on the stove. This looks so good and I will definitely try this! thanks for an awesome blog. Being from Baton Rouge, LA I cook with the same ingredients!

  11. Hi Connie and welcome!! This is a different way to make it - though the red gravy isn't of course - and it's a great result. The tricky part is the sear and turning it so that it doesn't fall apart, but honestly a lot of folks just skip that part. Your mama's version sounds wonderful - especially with this summer heat. Thanks for stopping by - love Baton Rouge!! Enjoy the blog & write if you have any questions.

  12. Fantastic...the tomato gravy was delicious...I used ground turkey instead of beef and when I went to brown it in the pan it totally fell apart. It still turned out great because the tomato gravy covered the cracks. I will definitely make it again using ground beef!

  13. Hi KakeDiva! Yeah, this recipe really calls for a very lean beef otherwise it just won't hold together for the searing and turning process, which has to be handled tenderly anyway! Be sure to use a lean ground beef next time you try the recipe though - don't use a higher fat version of ground beef!


  15. Hi Lexie Mae! Yes, most of my recipes here are written for a family that's true. Still, if you really want something here, you can always freeze most things into single serving portions for later! It'll save you cooking time another day - I do that all the time. :) Thanks for stopping by.

  16. I divided the meat mixture into 2 small meatloaf's since I was scared of it breaking apart but my doing so somehow kept the meat together for both of it.I did not use lean meat but 80% meat and 20% fat and it stayed firm when I was searing it.Maybe the panko breadcrumbs helped to keep it together :)

    1. Thanks Jane!! I much more prefer the 80/20 myself! Hope you enjoyed it!!

  17. Hi Mary,disregard my comments about the 80/20.I like it but it did not taste like meatloaf should with the 80/20 ratio.Will be trying it with leanmeat next time.I guess with food like meatballs and meatloaf one should use lean meat.

  18. cooking the meatloaf now and it smells delicious. Do I cover the pot in the oven?

    1. I'm probably a little late on this but, it's uncovered!

  19. Mary, this really brought back memories. My dear mother, who passed away much too early at 51 years old, back in '79, made meatloaf this way. However, she added sliced carrots to the tomato gravy and didn't put it in the oven, but cooked it on top of the stove. I've never seen it cooked the way she cooked it until now. Thanks, Mary! You're the best!

    1. It's an unusual recipe for sure but it's been around a long time. You are the first person I've heard of that remembers it!

  20. When I was visiting Florida I was invited to a potluck dinner and they had Tomato Gravy. I had never had it before but it was very close to what my mother used on her meatloaf. She used tomato juice, with celery, onions and green pepper but left them in slices. She thickened it with flour after the meatloaf was done.

  21. Made this over the weekend. It looks good, taste great and is definetly a family pleaser. Definitely the best meatloaf I have ever made. Thank you for taking the time to make us all Chef's in the Kitchen.

  22. Made your meatloaf over the weekend. It looked good, tasted great and was definitely a family peaser. The best meatloaf I have ever made. Thanks for making us all Chef's in the Kitchen.

  23. Oooo! Meatloaf is one of my very favorite dinners/lunches. Never thought about searing/baking it in the cast iron skillet though.
    My mama made a tomato-based sauce for it. Just green pepper and a large can of plain diced tomatoes, a dash of sugar and let it simmer until the peppers were cooked and the sauce was thickened a bit. Yummy!

  24. I tried this today and adding the tomato sauce to my iron skillet made the gravy have a very metallic taste. Not good at all. The meatloaf turned out great, but wonder about using tomatoes in a cast iron skillet. I ended up using tomato ketchup doctored with Slap Your Mama and a few other Cajun seasonings thrown in. Thanks for a good recipe.

    1. If your skillet is releasing a metallic taste, then it's probably just a matter of it being time to re-season it. I used my larger stainless skillet for this recipe and not cast iron, although I have certainly used my cast iron with tomato based recipes before. I don't have any restrictions on what I cook in cast iron, and some will say you shouldn't do tomatoes, but as long as you have a well seasoned skillet, start off with a good natural fat and don't store the tomato sauce in the skillet, it has served me well even with tomato based sauces.


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