November 29, 2012 by Jason Rice MD
This is one of my favorites, and is the recipe I had in mind when I started this blog in the first place. These are a great, versatile protein that are also an easy vehicle to pack a lot of healthy ingredients into one tasty package. There are endless variations on this recipe (I even made it with andouille sausage in place of the chicken, not so healthy, but very tasty), but this is the basic starting point and the version I make most often.
The white bread filler found in most meatloaf recipes is replaced by minced mushrooms in this recipe, which add a great earthy flavor, maintain juiciness and add some vitamin D to the mix. I also used jarred garlic in this. While I usually prefer fresh garlic, in dishes like this, I find the stuff in the jar (not the dehydrated stuff, but the jars you find in the produce section) to be a more than sufficient substitute.
Also, I tend to use measurements like “some,” “enough,” and “a bit” in my head when I make recipes. However, I realize that my measurements (along with most of what goes on in my head) is of little use to anyone else, so I measured out what I was using to give you some guidelines. Feel free to play with the ratios at will, though – they’re just suggestions.
- 1 lb ground chicken
- 1 medium-sized sweet onion
- 5-6 garlic cloves minced (or about a tablespoon of jarred minced garlic)
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan (plus additional for topping, if desired)
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs (unseasoned)
- 3 tablespoons worchestershire sauce (I like the roasted garlic variety, myself)
- 10 baby bella (cremini) mushrooms (most of an 8oz pack)
- 1 whole egg
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Black pepper
- 1 large mixing bowl
- 1 muffin pan
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Place chicken into a large mixing bowl. Add the minced garlic and the worchestershire sauce so that the sauce mingles with the meat while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
Mince the onion and the mushrooms. I typically mince the onions by hand with a knife and use my OXO chopper to handle the mushrooms. I find that quartering the mushrooms and putting a few in the chopper works best to prevent jamming the chopper. You can also use a food processor if you have one or do everything with a knife as well.
Add the minced onions and mushrooms to the bowl. Add the bread crumbs, parmesan and several grinds of black pepper (sorry, I can’t really quantify this one. I think I used 12 twists of my grinder, and my best guess at the measured quantity would be about a teaspoon of black pepper. If this were a fancy cookbook, this is where it would say “fresh ground black pepper to taste.”)
Finally, add about a tablespoon of olive oil and your egg to the bowl. Fold the mixture together gently. Think of rolling and folding everything together, rather than diving in an forcing it all together with your fingers. The more you squeeze, the worse the final consistency of the muffins will be. Once everything is combined, you’re ready to make your muffins.
Put a small amount of oil into each cup of your muffin tin, no larger than a nickel, and smear it over the inside surfaces of the cup.
Now form round balls of the meatloaf mixture, just large enough to fill the cups. You don’t want the meatloaves overflowing; you want to leave room for some expansion and prevent overflow of the juices. One of the benefits of this method of making meatloaf is that the juices stay with the meat and retain their flavor. They also cook a lot faster than a big meatloaf since they’re small. If you like, sprinkle some cheese, pepper or a mushroom cap on top of your muffins.
Cook the muffins for about 30 minutes at 375 degrees. No need to drain or strain like you might do with a larger meatloaf. Your cooking time may vary slightly depending on the size muffins you make. My time is based on large muffins, and my muffin tin makes 6 muffins with this recipe. They should slide out fairly easily with a spoon or small spatula. This pair very well with some steamed vegetables and roasted or mashed potatoes (I will likely get into some recipes for sides in the future – for now, a nice steamed frozen veggie will do just fine!)
As you can see, I don’t glaze my meatloaf muffins. I know a lot of people like to glaze them, but I find it sticks to the pan and I think these meatloaves have plenty of flavor on their own. If you’d like to glaze them, I recommend a glaze mixture of ketchup and honey at about a 2:1 ratio. Let the muffins cook about 10 minutes unglazed, then pull them out and brush on the glaze and let them cook for the remaining time. And, of course, no honey for diners under 12 months.
Some variations I have made of these in the past include buffalo wing style with hot sauce instead of worchestershire, German style with pickles, bacon and mustard added, and an Italian version using a beef and italian sausage blend with some fresh herbs. I always use the bread crumbs, mushrooms and egg to hold it all together, but pretty much everything else is interchangeable. If you come up with your own favorite, please add it as a comment – I’d love to hear about it!