Meat loaf can be made from a variety of ground meats. Popular meat loaves are made from beef, turkey, chicken, pork and venison. As with all ground meats, cooking meat loaf until it is well done is imperative in preventing illness from bacteria in the meat. Meat loaves are usually cooked in the oven or in a slow cooker or crock pot. Cooking a meat loaf in the microwave is not recommended by the Food Safety and Inspection Service of the USDA. To ensure that the meat loaf is fully cooked, a meat thermometer should be used.
Oven-cooked meat loaves made from red meats such as beef, pork or venison must be cooked to 160 degree Fahrenheit in order to be considered safe to eat. For a recipe calling for 1 pound of ground red meat, this will take approximately one hour in a 325 degree F oven. Add 1/2 hour for each additional pound of red meat in the recipe. Meat loaf made from poultry such as ground chicken or turkey needs to be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. This can be accomplished by cooking in a 350 degree F oven for one hour, adding a half-hour for each additional pound of ground poultry in the recipe. Use a meat thermometer inserted at least 1/2 inch into the meat loaf to ensure that the correct temperature is achieved in either a red meat or poultry meat loaf.
Prepare the red meat or poultry meat loaf of your choice. Place the loaf in the crock pot. Add liquid to the pot in the form of diced or whole tomatoes undrained. Cover and cook on low heat for five hours for a recipe calling for 1 pound of meat or up to seven hours for a 2-pound meat loaf recipe. If desired, remove the lid after the meat loaf is done and turn the crock pot on high. Let the juices in the bottom of the pan simmer and thicken for about a half-hour before serving the loaf.
Simple Beef Meat Loaf
Combine 1 pound ground beef, 1 egg, 1/2 cup bread crumbs, 1 chopped green pepper and 1 chopped onion in a bowl. Add in any spices you prefer such as garlic, oregano, salt, pepper and sage. Shape into a loaf or place in a bread loaf pan to cook. Cook the meat loaf, uncovered, for one hour in a 325 degree oven.
Simple Turkey Meat Loaf
Combine 1 pound of ground turkey, or chicken, with 1 egg, 1 cup bread crumbs and 2 tablespoons of Italian seasonings. Add in 1/2 cup chopped onions and 1/4 cup chopped bell pepper. Add up to 1/3 cup of ketchup if desired. Place in a greased loaf pan and cook in a 350 degree oven, uncovered, for one hour.