Bento sized mini-meatloaves

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Who doesn't love a meatloaf? (If you eat meat, that is.) Sliced leftover meatloaf is great in sandwiches, and it's also very nice in a bento box. Meatloaves also freeze very well, since they have a moistness to them.

While I do like to make a big meatloaf now and then, I also like to make these mini-sized meatloaves specifically for the bento freezer stash. I often reserve a couple for dinner, and wrap and freeze the rest.

You could use your own favorite meatloaf recipe for this, but here is one in case you need it. The key point here is the size, perfect for bento boxes and sandwiches.

See the mini-meatloaves in action in this bento!

Recipe: Mini-meatloaves

This makes 10 little meatloaves, each about 170g / 6oz. each

  • 1.5kg / about 3 1/4 lb combination of ground beef, veal and pork (500g / a bit more than 1 lb each)
  • 2 large sweet bell peppers
  • 2 medium onions
  • 1 medium carrot
  • A 25cm / 8 inch length or so of celery stalk
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs from whole wheat sliced bread
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • Ground nutmeg
  • Ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F. Line a baking sheet with kitchen parchment paper for easier cleanup.

Chop up all the vegetables finely. A food processor is very helpful in this. Mix well with the breadcrumbs and egg to form a sort of slurry. Add the salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Put the ground meat mixture in a large bowl, and make a well in the middle. Pour the slurry you made above into the well, and mix the whole thing together very well with your impeccably clean hands.

Divide the mixture into ten equal amounts. Form each into a small loaf about 15cm/6 inches or so long, and about 5cm / 2 1/2 inches or so in diamater. Line them up on your baking sheet. (Use two sheets if they don't all fit.)

Bake for 10 minutes, then lower the heat to 165°C / 330°C, and bake for an additional 30 minutes.

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What if you don't have an oven? You can cook these little loaves in a frying pan. Just brown on all sides by rolling around, put on a lid, lower the heat and steam-cook for about 10-15 minutes. When they are done, when you poke a fork in the middle the juices should run clear.

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Cool down before wrapping up in aluminum foil or plastic wrap and freezing.

Notes

  • I find the 3-meat mixture to be the best for a moist meatloaf.
  • These are flavored rather neutrally, and are light on salt, so you can vary the flavors if you like. For instance, you can roll them around in a little ketchup and/or Bulldog sauce, or soy sauce, or your favorite barbeque sauce. In the photo at top I've just squirted a bit of ketchup on the slices.
  • The 6 inch / 15 cm long size is great for bentos and sandwiches. Sliced crosswise, the pieces are perfect for bento boxes, and sliced lengthwise they fit a sandwich very well.
  • For extra flavor and richness, not to mention fat, wrap the meatloaves in bacon and cook as described.