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Monday, April 29, 2019

Klops, an Eastern-European Meatloaf

I'm so mad that this was the best picture of this that I took. But by the time I was eating I was so hungry so I just forgot.
It doesn't sound good, does it? Klops. Blech. It's actually a very traditional meatloaf that's quite popular in Polish/Lithuanian Jewish homes. There's a recipe in The Book of Jewish Food by Claudia Roden and if you search "Klops meatloaf" you'll learn all about this favorite of Poland. It's a very Eastern European thing to put foods inside of other foods, if that makes any sense. This meatloaf has hard-boiled eggs in it! I've had it before from a friend's recipe and did not care for it at all. I thought it was dry, gray, and bland but everyone else seemed to love it. I really love meatloaf and I wanted to make my own version of klops, but make it more like the meatloaf I had growing up, which is a savory, tomato-laden labor of love.

There are going to be a couple of ingredients in here that aren't totally traditional, but please trust me on these. I know you're going to want a wonderfully authentic Polish-Lithuanian recipe, and while those are all nice and fed many people, you've come to my page and I want to give you something with a little twist that will give you an excellent result in the end.

Miso, specifically white miso, is an excellent additive of salt for meats. I love seasoning food with it because it adds a savory depth of flavor to everything it touches. I think miso is one of the most-perfect foods, and it works especially well in this because of the acidity of the tomatoes. I chose roasted ones because they're going to have a little less moisture in them in exchange for more flavor. You can pick up a 14 oz can of fire-roasted tomatoes at just about any grocery store nowadays, and you won't regret it.

Klops Meatloaf
serves 6-8
  • 2 lb course ground beef, ideally an 80/20 blend
  • 1 medium onion, grated
  • 5 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
  • 1 can roasted tomatoes
  • 1 Tbsp white miso
  • 1 small cucumber, about 1/2 cup, diced fine
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/3 c matzoh meal (or dry crackers, whatever you have)
  • Fresh mint and dill, chopped fine, about 3 Tbsp of each
  • 3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
  • 1 cup quartered mushrooms, optional
  • 1 large tomato, optional
Make the hard-boiled eggs first by cooking them for 12 minutes with a teaspoon of baking soda added to the water, which will help you peel them faster! Another little trick is to drain them and then shock them immediately after cooking with ice to help peel them more quickly. 

You're going to want to use a whisk to make a sort of paste out of the miso and the egg. The reason we're using miso instead of salt is because it's going to add a savory saltiness to the meat without drawing extra liquid out, like a hard salt would. I know it sounds funny, but it's not always the best idea to put hard salt into a ground meatball product. Since it's softer, use liquid or paste. You can also use soy sauce!

Drain the tomatoes of the juice and add them to the ground meat, the rest of the vegetables, the matzoh meal, and your egg mixture. Moisture is your frenemy when it comes to meatloaf, so you want to control it as much as possible. You want to use a sort of "liquid" salt like miso instead of a hard salt like kosher salt because the latter will draw moisture out of each strand of meat and it'll have nowhere to go, unless you want to let the whole loaf sit in the fridge for a day or so, so it can pass nicely through and through without issue. I also have cucumber and grated onion in this recipe, which are quite moist, but it's a fragrant moist that you'll be grateful for. 

With your bare fingers, mix everything together, sort of like you're doing a pie crust. Add in the herbs and give everything a good knead. It's okay if you get a little rougher at this stage! You want to make sure you don't have too many air pockets here at this stage. Lay out the meat all on a large sheet of plastic film in a tube, and roll it up tight to make a  big sausage shape. You're going to wrap it as tight as you can and let it hang out on the counter for the 10 minutes it's going to take you to peel your eggs. What's happening now is you're letting the flavors mesh. You can do this up to 24 hours ahead of time and you can let it all hold in the refrigerator instead.

When you're ready to bake your meatloaf, heat your oven to 375 degrees F and choose a casserole dish that will hold everything with ease, ideally with sides that go up at least 2 inches all the way around. To form your meatloaf, unwrap the meat and take half of it into your casserole dish. Lay it into a flat oval and make a lovely little channel in which to lay your eggs. You're laying them on their sides so they go in a nice line all the way down. Take the rest of your meat and lay it on top of the loaf you've just made to sandwich the eggs in. Use your hands to pat and shape it into a nice tight loaf, the tighter the better.

Drizzle a little oil on top and season generously with salt and course ground pepper to give it a nice crust. If you like mushrooms, fill in around the sides of the loaf so it can soak up and cook in the fat. You can make a nice sauce out of this later, if you so choose!

Bake for 1 hour at 375. Remove from the oven and let hang out on your cutting board for at least 15 minutes. One of the reasons we let this meatloaf rest before serving is to help it retain its shape when you cut it. The whole idea of a meatloaf is for it to be a lovely homogenous thing, and it's especially lovely for leftovers. Who doesn't love a meatloaf sandwich for lunch?

Please be careful when you remove it from the oven, as there's quite a bit of fat that's sure to have cooked off. If you've cooked mushrooms around the sides, spoon them out into a dish gently, and then spoon out the fat that's rendered off. Reserve at least a couple of spoonfuls for the sauce, if you plan to make one. If you do want to make a nice sauce, simply chop up one large tomato, saute it in some of the fat that has been drained from the meatloaf, and add in the mushrooms that were cooked in the oven. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then blitz in a blender with some breadcrumbs or matzoh meal. 

The sauce is entirely optional, as it's quite yummy on its own. For sides, I suggest a squash puree or roasted potatoes. You're going to have tons of leftovers, so you may as well make it the day before your work week starts so you can have easy leftovers.

Thanks so much for reading! Happy cooking and happy eating!


  1. dear friend made little 'meatloaf' things - tiny footballs - and they were delicious! she called them something sounding like "congloytin" - to the best of my ability to type what is sounded like she said.

    her adult children loved them, too ... but said they were not very healthy. I loved when she made them and was always happy to eat them. her mandelbrot, too! she taught me how to crochet a chevron but not how to cook those little meatloaf things or the mandelbrot. DARN!

    1. Don't worry, dear friend! I'll find out what these are and find you a recipe! Have faith!