Being that I love cake and Halloween enough to get a Halloween 3D skull cake pan as a birthday gift, it’s a bit odd my first thought on seeing said pan was not, “that is going to make an awesome cake.” It was actually “OMG I have to make a meat head!” You see a few years back I saw this quite cool recipe from Not Martha on making a realistic meatloaf hand, and that recipe really stuck with me I guess, because it overrode cake. Anyway, chances are you don’t give two sprinkles why I decided to make a meatloaf head, you just want to know how I did it, so let’s get to that.
First, you kind of need the 3D skull pan, though if you are more artistic than I you may be able to sculpt yourself a head and deprive Amazon of $34.21. Assuming you have or buy a pan, you’ll need to grease it well. The rest of this recipe also assumes you use the pan, because I did.
Next prepare about 4 lbs of meat loaf. I say about 4 lbs, because I purchased a 5 lb log to prep this beast then realized I didn’t thaw any meat for dinner. I pinched off about a lb to make some tacos leaving an approximate amount. The meatloaf recipe you use is also irrelevant—I mean everybody has their favorite mix, and the recipe will not affect the meat head in the slightest. My own included a hand full of chopped mushrooms, 2 small onions, bread heels soaked in milk, spices to delicious, and some egg.
Set this aside and prepare a small pan of chunk-free marinara sauce. What? You may be thinking, why do I need pasta sauce for meatloaf. Well, Not Martha used ketchup, and what is marinara if not better tasting ketchup? I also decided to stuff my head with mozzarella and sauce so that when it was cut, brain-like material would leak out. This coincidentally made it taste sort of like noodle-free lasagna, which was ah-maze-ing. The sauce I made was very simple. One can tomato sauce, spice to taste (garlic powder, pepper, parsley, oregano, and a bay leaf is a good start).
Let this simmer while you cut some mozzarella cubes and thin slices.
When finished, pack the vast majority of your meatloaf into the pan leaving a hallow compartment in each side for the mozzarella cubes and some sauce. Here’s a photo example of how to do that, if you’re a visual learner.
Close these compartments with the not-vast-majority of your meatloaf you should still have on hand. Now it should look like this.
This was the point in my recipe that I had to make a call. My husband suggested cooking it awhile and then removing it from the pan to add details. I worried that would not allow me to do neat stuff like add eyes. So I lined a cookie sheet with tinfoil and plopped my cake pan upside down. This is why a well-greased pan is key—out popped a perfectly sculpted stuffed meat skull.
First, Frank needed eyes. (I decided to name him Frank.) At first I was just going to place half white onions in there, but that seemed insufficiently creepy, so I cut a small indention and hollowed it out to insert the end of cocktail olives. The effect was super cool. The looked like real eyes. I will say my white onion came from our garden, so if you have trouble finding this small size, you might opt for a shallot. Then I just added onion chip teeth.
Next, take the remainder of your marinara and paint it onto the skull, and then layer the thin cheese slices over the top. Pop it in the oven at 375 degrees for about 90 minutes. Cook time may vary, so keep an eye on it. This is also ground meat, so be sure to temp your creation for food safety reasons.
Once done as you can see there was a bit of drippage. I used a spatula to move mine to a clean pan for presentation reasons. I will admit stacking the two sides was a bit tricky, but the end result was a fitting head for our family’s annual Samhain party meat corpse.
The one issue I found is that the head spread a bit on one side while baking distorting the skull. I am not sure how this could be remedied, but am open to suggestions in comments.
Don’t want to read all that? Here’s the quick version:
4 lbs ground beef
1 cup chopped mushroom
6 bread heels soaked in milk
spices to taste
1 can tomato sauce
spices to taste
1 lb mozzarella cheese
2 small white onions
2 green cocktail olives
Grease 3D skull pan.
Make meatloaf by combining first 5 ingredients. Set aside, simmer tomato sauce and spices on stove top.
Cut 1 ½ cups cheese cubes, and about 15 thin slices.
Stuff pan with meat leaving a hollow cavity.
Fill cavity with cheese cubes and ¾ of the sauce, and then close off with more meatloaf mixture.
Flip pan onto cooking pan.
Cut each onion in half, then hollow out a penny-sized cavity. Cut the end from two cocktail olives, and insert into holes. Place onions in eye sockets. Cut onion chips. Arrange as teeth.
Paint head with remaining sauce.
Layer head with cheese slices.
Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 90 minutes or until internal temperature reads a minimum of 160 degrees.