Ahhh, meatloaf. I dreaded it as a child (what was I thinking?), but I’ve come to enjoy it quite a bit as an adult. It’s one of those dishes that can be dressed up for company with gorgeous side dishes or dressed down in a sandwich. Plus, you can typically make it at least a few hours ahead, stash it in the refrigerator, and pull it out when you’re ready to bake it.
That last point is what really motivated me to try the Classic Meatloaf recipe from the October 2007 issue of Everyday Food, in combination with a great meat sale at King Soopers. Dr. O’s arrival time in the evening is still pretty erratic, so this is one where I can get the “I’m coming home” call, pop it in the oven, and have dinner within an hour. Plus, the recipe has a relatively short and simple ingredient list – white bread, milk, beef, pork, onion, garlic, an egg and some ketchup come together to form a hearty and flavorful loaf.
To make clean up easier later, I started by lining a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Next, I placed 3 torn-up slices of white bread in my food processor and pulsed until fine crumbs formed. I transferred the crumbs to a small bowl and stirred in 1/3 cup of whole milk. I set the crumbs aside for about 10 minutes, stirring them occasionally.
While the crumbs absorbed the milk, I combined 1 1/2 pounds of ground beef chuck, 1/2 pound of ground pork, 1/2 of a medium onion (grated), 2 minced garlic cloves, 1 egg, 1/4 cup of ketchup, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper in a large bowl. I added the bread-milk mixture and stirred the ingredients together very gently with a fork.
This is a “free-form” meatloaf recipe, so I placed the meat mixture on the prepared baking sheet and formed it into a loaf that was about 9 inches long and 5 inches wide. I baked the loaf at 400F until it reached 160F on my meat thermometer (55 minutes), brushing it twice with 1/4 cup of ketchup while it baked. (That’s 1/4 cup of ketchup total, not 1/4 cup each time.) I let the loaf rest 10 minutes before slicing and serving it.
This was a tasty meatloaf, but I almost think the best part about it was the *smell* while it was baking. It took me a few minutes to put my finger on it, but it was the smell of roasting garlic and onions… It was almost intoxicating. The onion flavor of the loaf was strong; I liked it, but this might be a hard sell for kids. Texture-wise, it was moist and meaty. It held together well, but I think the gentle fork mixing resulted in a loaf that was more chunky than smooth.
All in all, I think this was a yummy dinner, but I’m not sure this recipe wins out over Kraft’s Favorite Meatloaf. (I can’t even believe I’m putting a Kraft recipe over an Everyday Food recipe, but results are results!) Meatloaf is great comfort food, though, and the temperature is dropping, so I’m sure I’ll have numerous opportunities to try more recipes this fall. Stay tuned!
TIPS: Definitely, definitely, definitely line your baking sheet with foil before you assemble the loaf. The loaf ended up leaching quite a bit of fat because of the ground chuck and ground pork, so you’ll have quite a mess on your hands if you skip that step.
Recipe link: Classic Meatloaf