My cousin and BFF Lesleigh came to dinner last night and I made meatloaf, pasta salad, and sauteed spinach. I didn't feel awkward about serving her meatloaf, for several reasons. One, she's family, and has eaten many meals at our house. Two, I make
The World's Best Meatloaf
I know what you're thinking. MEATLOAF. YUCK. I always think of the scene in A Christmas Story when Ralphie's Mom is dishing out meatloaf from a loaf pan and it looks revolting.
I remember my mother making it when I was a kid, and the shudder of revulsion when I found bits of chopped up green peppers in my meatloaf.
I've also tasted meatloaf that had bits of chopped onion that weren't really cooked fully. [IMHO onions should only be ingested if they are either cooked down to a softness that's just a step above butter, or cooked into a crispy yumminess like an onion ring. I aim for one of those two states when I add onions to food.]
But back to my topic - meatloaf, for most people, means
My mother loves meatloaf. She says she can eat it every day. We don't get that crazy, but we do have it fairly often. She's 82, so she needs soft foods that are easy to chew.
So in the interest of public service, and to help busy moms throw together a great meal from scratch that kids will love, I give you my tips to make great meatloaf.
One of the keys is to NOT use cheap meat, like ground chuck. Use ground sirloin. Yes, it's a tiny bit more pricey, but it's worth it. One of the criticisms of beef is that animal fat is bad for your heart. I like to buy the leanest ground beef possible, and add some heart-healthy olive oil to my meat mixture.
Another key is if possible, let the beef sit out on the counter and warm up before you start making the meatloaf. I don't know why, but all beef should be room temp before cooking. Makes it more tender.
My grandmother was a Home Economics major and she taught mother that one of the keys to great meatloaf is to put 1-2 tablespoons of baking powder in the meat. This keeps it from being so heavy.
You also want to use 1 or 2 eggs.
I like to get a mixing bowl and put my meat in it and leave it under a towel for a while to warm up, then I add my eggs and baking powder first, to be sure those ingredients are in there.
I like to buy breadcrumbs that are seasoned and add them to the meat.
I throw in a handfull - about 2-4 tablespoons of crumbs. Now, you can also just put a piece of ordinary bread, and that's OK. If you are going to do that, soak the bread in water [or Sherry or soy sauce] first, for a minute. That makes it easier to break up and incorporate into the meat.
My mother's trick for making meatloaf great is to add in lots of flavorful liquids, until the meat is pretty soggy. You don't want dry meatloaf. For depth of flavor, add one or all of these, about 1/4th of a cup:
Sherry or red wine
You can find this at most major grocery stores - Kroger and Publix for sure. Not sure about other chains in other parts of the USA. I don't add a lot; usually a teaspoon or so for each lb. of meat.
Now, if you have time, it's great to chop up an onion and mince a clove of garlic, and saute those in some olive oil until they are soft, and add them to the meat. If you're in a hurry, use granulated garlic and onion powder.
I recently started adding Italian seasoning to my meatloaf. Gives it more flavor.
In terms of seasonings, most people are too timid. My rule is, the more the better.
And by the way, salt and pepper are not seasonings. Don't even cook food without them. They are basic. Most meat needs a good bit of salt to be edible. We use Sea Salt.
I also add a couple of good squirts of ketchup to the meat mixture. You can use tomato sauce.
We don't cook our meatloaf in a loaf pan. Typically, I use a small tin pan that was my great grandmother's for a 1 lb. meatloaf, and a 9x13 pan for a 2 lb. meatloaf. Once the meat mixture is ready, I just dump it into the pan and form a roughly rectangular shape in the middle of the pan. I then cover the top with either ketchup, or toothpick in some slices of bacon. I bake at 350 for about 30-45 minutes.
If you want to be more "company" then saute some mushrooms, and put them around your meat, swimming in beef broth. I buy boxed broth or stock. You can also chop up mushrooms and add them to your meat mixture, which is tasty.
One of our favorite ways to use leftover meatloaf is to take slices and fry them in a skillet, then pile on the grated cheese.Put it atop a piece of bread covered in butter and garlic powder, for a very yummy open-face sandwich.
Mother likes a cold meatloaf sandwich on white bread with Duke's mayo and tomato slices.
So next time you are stumped for a dinner idea, try meatloaf and use my tricks/tips. I guarantee you that you will love it.