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Embutido (Filipino-Style Meatloaf) Recipe

Why It Works

  • Sautéing the vegetables before incorporating them into the meatloaf gets rid of their excess moisture and prevents the embutido from becoming soggy.
  • Using ground pork yields a juicy, flavorful embutido.

I still recall the sense of unease I felt whenever a slice of cold embutido―Filipino-style pork meatloaf filled with sweet relish, raisins, hard-boiled eggs, and ham or sausage―was put on my plate at any party. As a kid, I was a picky eater and I didn’t find cold meat particularly appetizing, especially when it contained raisins and relish. As I grew up and learned how to cook, I came to appreciate and enjoy embutido for its myriad flavors and textures.

“Embutido” means sausage in Spanish and is a catch-all for any type of sausage. However, Filipino embutido came about after the introduction of processed canned foods to the country during the Spanish-American war; it isn’t a remnant of Spanish colonization. Canned ham, Vienna sausages, corned beef, and other shelf-stable meats found their way onto dinner tables and, consequently, became highly prized, eventually finding their way into a Filipinized version of meatloaf, the classic American dish, which nevertheless is called “embutido” because the shape of the typically cylindrical loaf ends up recalling a sausage.

Serious Eats / Rezel Kealoha

To assemble an embutido, it used to be typical to start by laying down a layer of caul fat, the web-like fatty lining that encases organs in animals like cows, pigs, and sheep (known as sinsal in Filipino). Nowadays, it’s more common to see preparation that use banana leaves or (even more common) aluminum foil as the outer wrapping layer. Regardless of which one you use, you fill it with ground pork mixed with finely chopped vegetables, sweet relish, and raisins, stuffing the middle with hard-boiled eggs and Vienna sausage or hot dogs, then rolling it all into a log. Once rolled and wrapped, you steam the embutido, cool it, and then cut it into slices, which can be served cold, warm, or even fried.

Much like a meatloaf, embutido is very customizable. The embutido I ate growing up was dense, contained raisins, and was steamed and served cold. My version incorporates sautéed bell pepper for sweetness (instead of raisins and relish), shredded cheddar cheese for added creaminess, and Chinese sausage (rather than Vienna sausages or Filipino hotdogs) for their salty sweet flavor, which I think pairs well with the rest of the embutido’s ingredients. Although steaming is traditional, you’ll see many recipes that call for baking the embutido, so I tested both for this recipe. While steaming produces a smoother and more homogenous texture, I preferred the deeper caramelized flavor and lighter texture of the baked embutido. Sliced and served warm alongside fragrant jasmine rice and a tangy sweet and sour sauce, this is a version of embutido my childhood self wouldn’t hesitate to eat. 

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