I love meatloaf. It takes less than 10 minutes to throw together and less than an hour to bake, and the reward is pure, meaty goodness. Meatloaf is a humble dish, to be sure, but it packs a huge wallop in the taste department. It’s true that meatloaf looks less than appetising before it goes into the oven, and I think it is an unsung hero in the Western food repertoire primarily for that reason. Possibly the second reason is the name: “meatloaf” is anything but a romantic title for a dish. Around here, we jokingly call it “loaf of meat,” as in, “Man, I’m craving loaf of meat!”
There are two secrets to making killer meatloaf. One is proper seasoning, and the other is handling the meat as little as possible. If the meatloaf is not seasoned or is under-seasoned, it will taste very, very bland. Period. Not even the innate meatiness will compensate for the lack of seasoning. Add more seasoning than you think is reasonable to this dish – Gasoline calls this “a surprising amount of seasoning” – and your palate will thank you. Overhandling the meat will toughen the meat and make the meatloaf dry out; therefore, mix the meat only as much as is needed to thoroughly incorporate all ingredients, and then stop. And that’s it! Following these tips will yield a moist, tender, flavourful meatloaf, and you’ll wonder why you ever sneered at the humble yet mysterious meatloaf. A great helper, though not required, is adding crackers to the meat. Seriously. It sounds extremely weird, but use crackers.
I feel that meatloaf and mashed potatoes were made for each other, and as Husband and I are crazed spud fanatics, there was no question that the side dish would be mashed potatoes. Husband, the brilliant man that he is, added goat cheese to the mashed potatoes in lieu of cow cheese, giving a subtle tang to the dish that was fantastic. It was so good that I’m considering mixing some goat cheese into the meatloaf next time I make it. Our friend Gasoline popped by for dinner, so we steamed some broccoli at his request, and I feel it only fair to tell you that broccoli, meatloaf, and mash taste wonderful together.
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Yield: enough for 3 9×5″ meatloaves*
For the meatloaf:
3 1/2 lbs. ground beef, raw
1 cup skim milk
1 1/2 stacks salted crackers, such as Saltines, roughly crumbled
1/3 cup ketchup
3 TBS dijon mustard
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
about 1 TBS salt and scant 1 TBS pepper, to taste
For the topping:
6 TBS brown sugar
6 TBS dijon mustard
2/3 cup ketchup
dash of ground pepper
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Lightly oil pan(s) with olive oil.** In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, dijon mustard, ketchup, and pepper; combine thoroughly, leaving no lumps of brown sugar in the mixture. Set aside.
In a large bowl, thoroughly combine the egg, milk, Saltines, ketchup, dijon mustard, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper. Gently mix in beef; do not work overmuch with the beef, else it will toughen and the meatloaf will be both tough and dry.
Spread meatloaf in prepared pans and divide topping evenly over meatloaves. Bake 45 minutes or until the juices run clear when the middle is pierced. Serve immediately.
*Recipe can be halved. If halving recipe, still use one egg.
**I used a 9×5″ loaf pan and an 8×8″ baking dish. You can bake this in pretty much any pan; just form the meat into a loaf and place in pan. The meat will retain its shape when baking.
Source: Heavily adapted from Allrecipes.com