Tuesday, February 4, 2014

BBQ Mini Meatloaves

Ok, so I know that I just posted a recipe yesterday with the selling point of eating clean and lighter after the Super Bowl... but these were too good not to share. They're not clean, nor are they considered health food, but I have heard there is another snow storm making it's way to the East Coast, so I figured there needed to be another hearty, low maintenance meal out there that would be the perfect fuel for the post snow-shoveling marathons my friends are going through right now.

Last week on the North Carolina coast, we got a half inch of ice--though it was the light and fluffy ice that actually looked like pleasant snow coming down instead of the hateful, biting sleet that we would get in Dallas during my childhood. It lasted for about 3 days then melted and since then we've been completely soggy and soaked and plagued by bipolar weather. I kid you not, it was 66 degrees yesterday and it's 38 again today and rainy. Blech!
But anyway, does the concept of meatloaf kind of freak anyone else out, or is it just me? I don't even have a good explanation as to why- maybe because I think bread when I hear loaf, which makes sense because meatloaf has breadcrumbs in it, but the thought of slices of meat... just not really appealing. However, making them in the shapes of large meatballs is something I can get on board with, AND it's built in portion control. *Winning*
Now, because we're working with beef and sausage here, you must must MUST bake these on some sort of contraption that allows for grease drainage. I have never understood how people can get a crispy, non-grease laden meatloaf or meatball by baking them in muffin tins. I mean, just look at all the drainage from the batch above! I definitely do not want to be eating that, but if that's your thing-- then who am I to stop you? The hidden vegetables in these mini meatloaves prevent the meat from becoming dry without being greasy, and they allow you to cut out the milk if you're avoiding dairy. I honestly didn't even want the extra BBQ sauce on top because I preferred the taste without any extra wetness from additional sauces.

I did not care for the taste of these as leftovers- the breadcrumbs become soggy and even when rebaked in the oven they just don't have the same pizzaz as when they're fresh (think: reheated hamburger from a restaurant; just not very appealing). If you're wanting to make these ahead of time, I'd only do it a day or two in advance without the breadcrumbs and mix those in at the last second before shaping. 

And if you're still working without a #20 disher, please just break down and go buy one! It's not a unitasker by any means and portions out things so easily in just less than 1/4 cup volumes. It's on my top 5 list of kitchen tools I'd bring to a deserted island. 

BBQ Mini Meatloaves

Makes 17-18 meatloaves, using a #20 disher (just about 1/4 cup mixture for each)
Adapted from Rachael Ray

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium white onion, chopped
2 medium (or 1 large) leaf of kale, stem discarded and leaves chopped
2 medium stalks celery, chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
1/2 cap large portabella mushroom, chopped (about 1 heaping cup if using other mushroom variety)
1 poblano pepper, seeded and chopped
1 pound lean ground beef
1 pound mild Italian sausage
1 1/4 cups seasoned bread crumbs
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons smoky BBQ sauce
1 tablespoon Creole (Tony Chachere's works great) seasoning
Dash liquid smoke (optional)

BBQ Topping Sauce:
3 tablespoons smoky BBQ sauce
1/4 cup Ketchup
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
Pinch ground black pepper
Dash liquid smoke (optional)

Preheat your oven to 450°F. Sauté vegetables in a large skillet until onion is barely translucent and kale is soft. Transfer vegetables and seasonings to a food processor or blender and process until you have a wet paste. Add this paste to a large bowl, then add the meats and eggs. Mix well using clean hands (they work better than a spoon in my opinion), add the breadcrumbs and combine. Wash your hands. 

Prepare a broiling pan or cookie sheet with a wire rack by placing foil in the drainage area for easy cleanup. Coat top rack of this setup with cooking spray. Using a #20 disher, scoop meatloaf mixture into portioned balls and place on the pan or sheet. You may touch up the shape with your hands if you'd like. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until tops are brown, then cut one meatloaf open to ensure meat is cooked through. If it is, turn on the broiler to high and broil the tops for 5 minutes to create a crust. 

While mini meatloaves are baking, mix together the topping sauce in a small bowl. Once meatloaves are done, serve them hot with the BBQ topping sauce. 


  1. Hey Jordyn! I love your blog. I was wondering if you were still in Okinawa? I'm writing over at Mr. & Mrs. O and was thinking of getting some local bloggers together for a monthly lunch or dinner. I know you work so you're probably crazy busy, but let me know if this interests you!!


    1. Hi Kassie! Thanks so much for the kind words. We moved back to the States from Okinawa last fall. I loved the restaurants and cafes and bakeries in Okinawa and miss them very much- so I really am sorry that I won't be able to join because it sounds like so much fun! Thank you again for the invitation!

  2. My grandma used to make meatloaf, but it was a big, massive thing with bacon on. I like your crispy bite-sized version, they look delicious:)

    1. Thanks, Mitzie! I'm so happy you stopped by. I agree the massive loaf is a little freaky, but I like the idea of bacon on there (who wouldn't!). I'll have to add some crispy bacon crumbles on top next time I make these!


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