This is an American meal with a ratio of eighty percent to twenty percent, meat to fat respectively, it is important to have it cooked well.
Any meal requiring thoroughly cooked meat requires tactics and understanding of how meat, and indeed our stomachs work.
Failure to properly cook a meatloaf can result in stomach pangs, and getting reacquainted with meds, and bathrooms.
Be sure to take notes to avoid missing out on the next opportunity to host your lovely neighbors.
Meatloaf – Cook Well, Eat Healthy
Okay, for purposes of all things meat-preparation, the smell is important. Usually, the smell of fully cooked meat is enough to signal that it is ready to eat as well.
However, because of the intricacies of these dishes, plus the difference in meat used, and recipes, methods vary.
Some may use thermometers, others stick to kitchen contraptions, while veterans rely on appearance.
Meatloaf is an American meal usually fed to large numbers of people, including in-laws. Ensuring it is ready to eat is as important as making or breaking that relationship with your mother-in-law.
Using a Thermometer – Guaranteed Method
To ensure your meatloaf is ready for (safe) consumption, use a thermometer. These are available in any supermarket at reasonable prices.
Stick the thermometer, to the core, to check temperature where it is most important. Inner parts of your meat take longer to cook, this you should know even as a novice chef.
The reading on the instant-read thermometer should be 160 degrees Fahrenheit. If, however, the reading differs by 5 or so degrees, it would still be edible, scrumptious, and healthy to eat.
What could be a cause for concern, are temperatures of +/- ten degrees or more.
A word of caution to those who may not be familiar with measuring temperatures in food. This 160 degrees Fahrenheit should be the internal, innermost temperature of the meatloaf. It also should be measured with the meatloaf completely out of the oven, not halfway in, and out, as you prepare to re-insert it.
Use a Fork to Check Temperature
Now, this is an interesting approach to checking your meatloaf. Using a fork, stick it right to the core of the meatloaf. Incidentally, we are not checking softness.
Do not let go of the fork. Hold it for approximately thirty seconds, paying attention to how the back of your hand feels.
If your hand gets warmer, even with the meatloaf out of the oven, your meat is most likely cooked.
This approach is as safe as any, especially without a thermometer, nor veteran eyes to examine your masterpiece. Remember, depending on the ingredients and recipe used, cooking times and temperatures will vary.
Keep Track of Cooking Times
A 2-pound meatloaf should be ready to eat in about an hour. This is true when cooked at approximately 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Hence, as you ponder what to use to check if your meatloaf is edible, you have an hour or so to find the right approach.
This hour is enough to make any meat smell good – and cooked. Pay attention to smells the way you pay attention to the noise of your car engine.
Anything that sounds, or in this case, smells off, probably is just that.
Be sure to open your oven occasionally, especially after the first thirty minutes. If your meatloaf is thick, turn it over after half an hour so to make sure it cooks evenly.
This ensures your meatloaf is cooked all around, and checking if it is ready to eat becomes much easier.
Cut off Slices and Taste/Feel
If you are seriously in doubt of your culinary skills or have suddenly become panicky about disappointing your mother-in-law, remove the meatloaf and slice it up.
The slices should come off easily unless your knife is blunt. If, however, you are witnessing red spews of blood, your meatloaf is not cooked.
Options include returning it to the oven, or using a microwave switched to oven settings. At this point, cook for a short period, testing with a thermometer if you have one, or using a fork to check the center. If it is still red, let it continue cooking.
It is not advisable to taste meat that looks uncooked, simply to authenticate that it is, in fact, uncooked.
Therefore, use your eyes, and perhaps those of your neighbor’s, to verify uncooked meats and re-insert them quickly back into the oven.
Check between Rare and Raw – use fingers
Last but not least, use your fingers to check if your meat is raw, rare, or done☺. Who would’ve thought fingers would do the trick.
Taking your index finger, and thumb, check the softness of your thumb. That soft-ish, fleshy area of the thumb is what your meat should feel like.
In other words, as this area of your thumbs isn’t stiff, rugged, or rough, so should your meat be, to signify Rare – not done, or raw.
This is enough to let you know that your meat can be eaten and enjoyed with no qualms unless of course, your crowd preferred it well-done.
FAQ – Other Ways to Tell Meatloaf is Cooked?
Can you tell Simply by Looking at a Meatloaf?
Veteran chefs can tell if the meat is almost done, but they still require forks or thermometers to verify. A well-cooked meatloaf on the outside might be raw internally.
Is Touching the Meatloaf Safe?
Like the example used above, you can touch it to check for softness/toughness. However, this is risky as you can singe fingers if you aren’t used to being in the kitchen. In terms of contaminating the meat, all bacteria from fingers will be burnt at high temperatures.
The safest way to ensure your meat is cooked is to taste it, as thermometers may need recalibration, eyes may deceive you and your fingers may be numb from other activities.
To please your mother-in-law, kids or hubby, cut off a slice from one end to the other. Taste and return to the oven accordingly, if need be. Bon appetit☺