CDO, Argentina, Philips, and More: We Try 8 Brands of Local Canned MeatloafJune 10, 2019
We’ve done luncheon meat, liver spread, and Vienna sausages—now it’s canned meatloaf’s time to shine. Like its cousin luncheon meat, canned meatloaf features a mix of different kinds of meat (often beef, pork, and poultry) and extenders that are made to form a ready-to-slice, ready-to-eat “loaf.” This gives it at least some meaty flavor, but a much longer expiration date and a lower price tag that ultimately translate to better convenience. But how do the different brands in the local market compare?
555 comes as a rosy russet-hued block that’s easy to slice. Somewhat pasty in consistency, it’s firm enough to hold its shape but has a semblance of creaminess to it that becomes especially soft when a slice is heated or fried. Made with “mechanically separated” chicken and soy protein in the mix (…we’ll keep an open mind), this meatloaf gives you a flour-y taste that veers toward the overpoweringly salty end of the spectrum, but each bite comes balanced with just the slightest touch of sweetness.
Argentina gives you a slightly redder meatloaf with more visible specks of black pepper. It’s even creamier than 555 and tends to smear itself on the knife as you try to slice—making it great for stuffing into sandwiches. Also made with mechanically separated chicken and soy protein, it boasts a decent meaty flavor brought out by peppery notes that also leave each bite with a good amount of heat.
Bingo stands out with its pale brown hue (as opposed to most of the others’ rosier tones), likely due to its use of more beef than poultry meat or pork. Mid-level in firmness but coming moist from the can, it has a flour-y taste with a mild but present metallic overtone we don’t particularly mind. Though it falls short on any actual meaty flavor, it delivers on the overpowering saltiness and mild heat—which is exactly what you want with steaming hot rice, sometimes.
CDO’s version is a pale-pink log with darker red specks embedded all over its surface (likely to meant resemble real salumi?). It’s firm to the bite yet rich and is much less salty than the other brands, bearing a stronger porky flavor almost reminiscent of SPAM (especially when heated). Along with that is a slight sweetness and a peculiar spice we can best liken to star anise or clove; whatever it is, it gives a Chinese ham-like feel that compliments the pork notes beautifully.
Liberty gives you meatloaf with a more uniform color and firmer, smoother consistency that feels more heavily processed. Though its more bouncy (or elastic) than creamy texture polarized the team, we loved that the flavor of the pork shines through with its mid-level saltiness. The sensation ends with a fiery, peppery heat that keeps us going back for more slices. This brand’s best enjoyed while cold though; heated, the interior develops a consistency that feels far too doughy for our liking.
Ligo’s take is the only other brown-leaning meatloaf on the list, containing “chicken or turkey meat” and beef. It’s dense but in such a way that’s oddly pasty, sticking to the roof of the mouth as we snack on it plain. The taste is what really puts us off though; props for not being too salty, but you get an oddly metallic, almost burnt undertone pervading each and every bite.
Philips’ is a pale-pink meatloaf that also has visible specks of what seems to be red (cayenne?) and black pepper in the mix. It, too, is on the denser end of the consistency spectrum and can tend to feel pasty, though it’s not as oddly doughy as Ligo’s. This beef- and pork-based brand tops Liberty as the spiciest meatloaf of the lot, giving you a good, fiery heat that has our taste buds tingling from the first bite to the last.
Star’s “mechanically separated poultry meat”, beef, pork, and chicken meat-based number (whew, that was a mouthful) is another pale pink, pepper-specked meatloaf that slices easily. It’s right dab smack being firm and creamy or spreadable, with a semblance of elasticity without being too rubbery. Though we wish it was spicier, you get the meaty flavor (of the mostly-porky but somewhat-beefy sort, to be exact) with just enough salt to accentuate, concluding with a touch of sweetness to round up all the flavors.
Pepper’s Pick: Argentina
Argentina’s balance of salty, meaty, a touch of sweet and a decent amount of peppery heat makes it a top pick for us, it being versatile enough for topping onto rice, stuffing into sandwiches or slicing into salads. Those in for an even spicier bite would do well to go for Philips and Liberty, while those who like it with a touch of sweetness (no shame) can check out CDO and Star.