A few months back, Micah and I got a craving for meatloaf. We had ground beef, an egg, breadcrumbs, and ketchup–all the stuff I remember grownups putting in and on their meatloaves when I was a kid–but no idea how long or how hot it needed to bake, no idea what proportions to use. So, we decided to consult some experts for their opinions.
…and plenty of recipes, too.
(Sorry. My love for meatloaf is rivaled only by my penchant for cheese and corn. )
Anyway, we probably read a couple dozen recipes that afternoon, some really basic, some a little strange (breakfast sausage and clams? so weird I might just have to try it one day!). But since we were both craving that classic, homey, comfort-food meatloaf flavor, we ignored some variations like the Pioneer Woman’s that sounded really good in favor of the recipes that were a little more traditional. (Plus, we were out of bacon.)
The only problem was, instead of finding “the one,” we narrowed it down to two, and we weren’t going to do that whole one-for-the-wedding-and-one-for-the-reception thing.
First, Paula Deen’s recipe. It’s pretty standard, but it called for quick-cooking oats. We only had steel cuts, and I thought those might make for a too-chewy substitution. We did like the addition of canned tomatoes (which seemed like they would add moisture and flavor), and the recipe had heaps of good reviews. (Plus, Paula’s the self-proclaimed goddess of Southern cooking, and this meatloaf called for zero sticks of butter and no deep frying.)
The other contender? Alton Brown’s recipe from Good Eats (which was one of our favorite Food Network shows before we cancelled our cable). Also fairly classic, also well reviewed. Pros: carrots, Worcestershire, hot sauce, and the ease of chopping lots of yummy veggies in the food processor. Cons: Cumin is one of my favorite spices, but I wasn’t sure I wanted it in my sauce (and some of the reviewers were a bit iffy on it as well).
So, we lovingly welcomed into this world Alton and Paula’s meatloaf love child, a sweet little guy with just a bit of a fiery temper. While we did improvise a little (hey, it’s what we do!), this baby’s got Paula’s tomatoes, Alton’s carrots, and hopefully a good shot at inheriting both celebrichefs’ fortunes one day.
This is now our go-to meatloaf recipe, which we spiced up for supper tonight with pork sausage in place of some of the ground beef and a little more hot sauce in the glaze. We enjoyed this yummy stuff with the last of those leftover butterbeans and some collards:
What’s in it (the loaf):
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 pound ground pork or mild pork sausage
- 1 large carrot
- 1/2 medium onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2/3 cup dry bread crumbs
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1-1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 cup canned tomatoes
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
What’s in it (the ketchupy glaze):
- 1/3 cup ketchup
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon hot sauce (or less, if you want a not-so-spicy loaf)
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon dry mustard
- Preheat your oven to 375°F.
- Put the ground beef and pork sausage in a big bowl.
- Finely chop the carrot, onion, and garlic (or let your food processor do it for you like I do–thanks, Alton!). Add these to the bowl.
- Add the breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, cayenne, thyme, tomatoes, and egg.
- Roll up your sleeves and get to mixin’! Combine everything thoroughly, but don’t smoosh the meat too much.
- Transfer the meat to a 9″x13″ baking dish and mold it into a loaf-shaped mound.
- Wash your hands!
- Mix together the sauce ingredients and spread that out on top of your loaf.
- Bake for about an hour, cool for a few minutes, slice, and enjoy! (It’s even better if you drizzle some of those yummy pan drippings over the top.)
We were meatloaf-challenged a few months ago, but now we’ve got a recipe we can count on. (Tonight’s was the best batch yet!)
What’s your favorite way to make meat(or meatless)loaf?