I’ve been cooking a lot of meat in (or on) parchment paper lately: chicken wings, meatloaf. And I’m finding that not only is this technique neat and tidy, it does a bang-up job of creating a very crisp crust. My theory is that the paper encourages the meat to render its fat more completely, the way bacon crisps up when you cook it well, but I need to do a little more reading to confirm this. In any case, I highly recommend lining your baking sheet with the paper next time you want to produce crisp-skinned chicken thighs, wings, or breasts. Cook the meat skin-side down and you’ll be all set.
Meanwhile, parchment also works similar wonders with this meatloaf recipe. You’d think the meat would merely steam when wrapped in paper, coming out gray and soggy, but here’s what I got:
It’s utterly delicious, with that browned crust and rich flavor. The recipe comes from our latest cookbook, Yankee’s Lost and Vintage Recipes and is a favorite of our friend, Faith Middleton of WNPR in Connecticut.
“Paper Bag” Meatloaf Recipe
This recipe is adapted from one shared by reader Carol Learned, of Albuquerque, New Mexico. “My Grandfather, George Learned, taught me how to cook,” she wrote. “This is his recipe for meatloaf that I’ve been using for 45 years and I would imagine he used it for as many before that. He was well known in Ware, Massachusetts, for running Dale Brothers’ Laundry until he retired, and then he often cooked at church suppers. Any meatloaf recipe can be used—the secret is in the brown paper wrap.”
George did use regular brown paper bags for his loaf, which he buttered, but I like parchment because the meat doesn’t stick to it and doesn’t require the extra fat.
Total time: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
INGREDIENTS FOR “PAPER-BAG” MEATLOAF
1¼ pounds ground beef
¾ pound ground pork
2 large eggs
1 medium-size yellow onion, finely chopped
1 medium-size green pepper, finely chopped
1 cup plain breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon mustard
1 ¾ teaspoons table salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
INSTRUCTIONS FOR “PAPER-BAG” MEATLOAF
- Preheat the oven to 350°. Put all the ingredients in a large bowl and use clean hands to gently toss them together until evenly mixed.
- Lay a piece of parchment approximately 18×13 inches into a rimmed baking sheet, and turn the meat mixture onto the paper. Shape into a rounded loaf; then wrap completely in parchment to form a neat package, tucking the ends underneath.
3. Transfer the loaf on the baking sheet to the oven and bake until the internal temperature reaches 160° to 170°, about 1 ½ hours. Let cool 10 to 15 minutes–the crust will set during this time—then remove the parchment and serve.