Monday, October 24, 2011

Chub Rub Meatloaf

Chub Rub Meatloaf – A little play on words as I experiment with this super easy meatloaf.

chub rub meatloaf

What to get: One 3 pound chub of 80% or 85% lean beef, spice rub or dry rub

Where to get it: your close to home chain-type supermarket

Why we approve: This meatloaf takes very little hands on time to make days worth of leftovers.

You may notice that I'm about to, yet again, deviate from our standard Meal Survivor format. That's because this time I'm going to cook something. But, I'm going to cook it using the Meal Survivor methods of using things that you can easily purchase, making your healthy eating easy and convenient!

There's nothing less convenient to me than mixing ground meat in a bowl. As much as I love meatballs and meatloaf, I hate to squish the ground meat around with my fingers. Hate it. I pondered this fact as I held a full 3lb chub of ground beef in my hands at the supermarket. If I really bought something this big, I'd almost have to get my hands dirty.

Or would I?

Could I not apply the same dry rub principal that we often use for steaks and roasts to an entire, unadulterated chub of ground beef? Perhaps...

What's a chub?

What is a chub, anyway? It's this...

economical 85% and 80% lean beef chubs

They also come in 70% lean at one extreme and 90% and 97% at the other. I never buy the leaner ones because they are too expensive and dry out when cooking. The 70% one just sounds gross. I already get a lot of fat from the 85% lean beef!

I typically buy the 80% for burgers and meatloaf because it tends to stay more moist, but if the 85% is a better deal (on sale) I'll pick that one up, instead. In this case, I believe the 80% was $8.99 for 3lbs, while the 85% was $12.99.

Nutritionally, they aren't dramatically different, especially when you see how much of the 80% beef's fat renders out.

80% lean beef

85% lean beef

And remember, the slightly fattier beef tends to stay more moist during cooking.

What's a rub?

A rub or dry rub is a mixture of spices that you rub (of course) over the meat. You let it sit on the meat for several hours to "all day long" absorbing the flavor into the interior of the meat.

You can buy many ready to use rubs at the supermarket.

rubs, galore


Just beware the use of MSG (monosodium glutamate) and other strange ingredients like "natural flavor" and Red Dye #40, neither of which are natural. I would say that 75% of the dry rubs in the supermarket were filled with this type of junk.

Emeril's Essence, while not actually labeled a rub, is a good choice, as are several of his bottled rubs.

granulated and powdered spices are still spices

Strangely, also decent were the high end "store" brand rubs, while the perceived high end rubs of the major labels were filled with fake stuff and artificial flavor enhancers.

A note about salt. Salt is not to be feared in these rubs, in fact if you don't get one with salt already in it, you're going to have to salt your meatloaf yourself. Salt is essential to keeping a meatloaf moist. Really! It's science! You didn't know that? Now you do, so use salt.

Chub Rub Meatloaf

Makes 3 lbs of meatloaf, or 9-12 servings


3 pound chub of 80 or 85% lean ground beef
table salt (nothing fancy)
spice rub


Carefully unwrap the chub by slitting the package lengthwise and peeling it off. Sprinkle the chub with salt and the rub, using your hands to make sure it's covered evenly. Some of the rub will fall off onto the work surface, so don't be afraid to roll the chub around to pick up the those spices!

Loosely wrap the rubbed chub in some plastic wrap or foil, place it on a platter, and stick it in the fridge. Let it rest (and the rub do it's work) for several hours or all day.  This is important for both flavor and moistness. Time is of the essence! ...Emeril's Essensce, in this case! ;)

rubbed chub

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Place the unwrapped chub on a baking pan or cast iron skillet and bake for about 90 minutes. If a tube shaped meatloaf is weird to you, then feel free to flatten it a bit before cooking.

ready for the oven

I inserted a meat thermometer into one of the ends of the loaf and cooked it until it was about 140° F. After a few minutes out of the oven, the temp was up to 150°. It was certainly done, but still a bit pink inside, which kept it moist. If you like it more cooked, then give it more time.

By the way, never cut right into a meatloaf after pulling it from the oven. Always let meat "rest" for 15-20 minutes before cutting into it, otherwise the juices will flow out onto the cutting board and all your careful salting will have been in vain.

ready to eat

Variations: Eat it cold or reheat it in the microwave. If you're on a higher fat diet, please try pan frying the slices in a little bit of oil or fat. Try topping it with salsa or a tapenade instead of the typical ketchup.

Pros: high in meat and protein. Easy. Lots of leftovers. Meatloaf seems to be one of those foods that's even good cold.

Cons: if you don't salt it enough on the outside, the inside can be bland. Because you don't kneed the meat into a loaf, the inside texture can be a little crumbly in spots. Not bad, just inconsistent. It's a big tube of cooked meat, and might seem weird, although you can flatten it out a bit before cooking if you like.


  1. PirateFoxy (from the JPfitness forum)February 17, 2012 at 12:14 AM

    Oh, this is an interesting idea. I may have to try this. My mom has some kind of weird comfort-food associations with anything made with ground beef, but as you pointed out, meatloaf and meatballs are kind of messy and a lot of work.

    (I personally like spice and herb blends from Penzey's - often more expensive, but the flavors tend to be very well balanced and there's typically not anything strange added.)

  2. Sorry I didn't see this comment before! The notifications were getting held up!

    I hope you liked how it turned out with Penzey's. They have some amazing spice blends, and I highly recommend them as quick and easy ways to make amazing tasting food, whether it's veggies, grilled meats, or even the simple chub rub!