If I think about it too much, meatloaf seems kind of disgusting. Before it's magically transformed through the power of heat into a browned, aromatic dinner delight, it is, essentially, a brick of raw cow products (or pig or bird).
Sorry, are you losing your appetite? I know the vegans and vegetarians among you are probably getting ready to move on to the next blog, and I don't blame you. Some of you, though, like the folks who proudly and excitedly order their steaks rare, might be salivating at the thought of some juicy meatloaf. I've been known to drool over the stuff too, but only when it's totally cooked...and accompanied by some extra glaze and perhaps a mound of buttery mashed potatoes.
So while the process of making meatloaf admittedly isn't my favorite, it's a classic comfort food for me and my family. I'm sure you have your go-to recipe, and this is mine. The resulting loaf doesn't have the problems often associated with a bad bake:
*The onions are cooked down so that they're soft and sweet and not bitter and distractingly crunchy.
*I learned long ago that baking in a loaf pan is a mistake--not only does it take FOREVER, but the grease sometimes comes up over the sides and into your oven! I now bake free-form on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet.
*The glaze is probably the most important part of a meatloaf for me, so I want it to stay put and not cascade down the sides and disappear. If you broil the meatloaf right away to create a crusty exterior and then baste throughout the process, you get a thick, tasty, present glaze.
OH, and sometimes what's even better than a chunk of meatloaf on a plate is a slice of meatloaf (or two) slathered with ketchup* and stuck between two pieces of bread as a sandwich the next day. Bon Appetit's suggestion for the ideal meatloaf sandwich may be a bit different than mine--in fact, the only thing on which we agree is the presence of salt and pepper--but to each his or her own.
*Shameless plug: Traina Sun-dried Tomato Ketchup is the perfect accompaniment. They have a Sriracha version too.
Based on a recipe from The Complete Cook's Country TV Show Cookbook
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1/4 cup brown sugar, tightly packed
- 4 teaspoons cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 1/2 onion, finely chopped
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup milk, plus extra as needed
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 pound ground beef (or turkey!)
- 1/3 cup bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
Make the glaze first by whisking the ketchup, brown sugar, and vinegar in saucepan until sugar dissolves. Reserve 1/4 cup glaze mixture, then simmer remaining glaze over medium heat until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Cover and keep warm.
Heat the oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering, then add the onion and cook until softened, about 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes.
In a separate bowl, mix the egg, milk, mustard, Worcestershire, salt, and pepper together.
Mix the meatloaf meat, crumbs, parsley, sautéed onion mixture, and egg mixture until evenly blended and the mixture doesn’t stick to the bowl. If the mixture sticks, add additional milk, a splash at a time, until it no longer sticks.
Adjust oven racks to upper (about 4 inches away from broiler element) and middle positions and heat broiler. Transfer meat mixture to prepared baking sheet and shape into 9- by 5-inch loaf. Broil on upper rack until well browned, about 5 minutes. Brush 2 tablespoons uncooked glaze over top and sides of loaf and then return to oven and broil until glaze begins to brown, about 2 minutes.
Transfer meatloaf to middle rack and brush with remaining uncooked glaze. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F and bake until meat loaf registers 160 degrees F, 40 to 45 minutes. Transfer to carving board, tent with foil and let rest 20 minutes. Slice and serve.