As an invitee to a highly anticipated “B.Y.O.M” (Bring Your Own Meat) party, I anxiously sought out a recipe that would look great and appeal to many different pallets. After brainstorming for a while and coming up with some pretty stellar ideas, I decided that I didn’t want to risk trying a fancy meat recipe for the first time and end up with a disaster, so I settled for a comfort food classic – meatloaf! As good as this recipe would have been in loaf form, I wanted to amp up the presentation and make them more appetizer friendly – mini-meatloaf cupcakes were born! These little appetizers are simple and delicious, and can be served at any temperature for the ultimate party-win.
- 3 lbs ground meat (I used 85% lean)
- 1 large white onion
- 2 T olive oil
- 2t minced garlic, or 1-2 cloves
- 1 cup breadcrumbs
- 2 eggs
- Worcestershire sauce
- ketchup, to cover
- salt & pepper, to taste
- cooking spray
Mashed Potato “Frosting”:
- about 10 smaller potatoes, peeled
- ¼ cup milk
- ¼ cup sour cream
- 2T butter, unsalted
- salt & pepper to taste
- chives, for garnish (optional)
Preheat your oven to 350. Heat a large frying pan on the stove on high, and drizzle enough olive oil in the pan to almost coat the bottom (about 2T). Finely dice the onion, toss it into the hot pan, and reduce the heat to medium low. To really get that good caramelized flavor, be sure to be patient and cook them over lower heat – we don’t want the outside to be crisp and the inside to have that raw onion bite. Once the onions are done, remove the pan from the heat, add the garlic, and stir. The garlic adds a little extra flavor (and aroma) without being overpowering if it’s not sautéed in with the onions. Let the mixture cool for about 5 minutes, so that it won’t burn when you blend it into the meat. Place the meat in a large bowl, add the cooled onions, a few shakes of Worcestershire, 2 eggs, the breadcrumbs, enough ketchup to just coat the top, and salt and pepper to taste. Now, I know that there’s a debate about eggs to meat ratios, and after talking with some expert chefs, I’ve learned that there is no real answer. The egg serves purely as a binder – it doesn’t really help to make the meat moist or enhance flavor or texture – and you don’t need to add one per pound of meat you use. I used two because three pounds of ground beef is a lot of beef, but for servings under 2 ½ pounds, I’d say stick with one.
I mixed up my meatloaf by hand, mostly because that’s how I’ve known it to be done, but also because it’s easier to tell if the mixture is consistent throughout. Spray the mini cupcake tin with cooking spay, and fill each cup up with the meatloaf mixture. Remember, these are not real cupcakes, and will not rise or take form of the pan unless you make them – so press the meat into the cup to prevent any misshapen mini-meatloaves. Bake the meatloaves for about 10-15 minutes, or until the meat is cooked completely through. You can use a larger tin for the cupcakes – just be sure to add on some cooking time, maybe 18-22 minutes.
Now for the frosting. While the “cakes” are cooking, peel and boil potatoes until tender. Mine took longer than expected – about 15-20 minutes – but I was also using a very small pot. To check for doneness, you want the potato to fall off a fork but not completely break apart in the water. When they’re done, drain the potatoes, add in all ingredients (except for the chives), and using an electric mixer, whip the potatoes for a nice, creamy consistency. You want to avoid lumps here – lumpy mashed potatoes are difficult to pipe and will be very frustrating. Chop the chives, and set aside.
When the meatloaves are all cooked, set them aside to cool to the touch. Prep your icing bags with a star tip, fill with potatoes, and frost your cupcakes. I sprinkled over some chives for color. Because these were for a party, I made the meatloaves the night before – try to make the potatoes the day of to keep the texture just right. Just like regular meatloaf, these are great hot or cold, as two bite appetizers or mashed up on an italian roll with gravy for lunch later in the week.
I’d show you a picture of that sandwich I was talking about, but there were no leftovers…