Finally, Good Meatloaf

Everyone is tied to their own version of meatloaf and I am no exception.  Some have gravy, some have ketchup, some have breadcrumbs, some crackers.  I’ve tried many disappointing versions with turkey, “meatloaf mix” as espoused by Cooks Illustrated, and even Stove Top stuffing as the bread component.  The final version was created last night and I hope I remember to look up this recipe next time I get a hankerin’ for meatloaf.  I have been perplexed by a few of the components for years and finally found my answers:

Q:  What meat?  A:  All beef, 93/7.  When you use the fancy “meatloaf mix,” you get a texture and flavor that aren’t as familiar to me as the all beef version.  It’s much more tender and I’m always left wondering if it’s completely cooked.  Raw meatloaf? ew, it doesn’t get much worse.  And yes, I do end up pulling out the thermometer to make sure before I serve it.

Q: What bread?  A:  Pepperidge Farm stuffing mix, pounded into bread crumbs.  I had leftover from the holidays and here’s why it works: It has all the seasonings of a crouton or Stove Top without the salt.  I provides more complexity than just adding plain crumbs and thyme and parsley.  I was a little worried it would be too dry so I adopted a Tyler Florence meatball trick and soaked the crumbs in milk before mixing.

Q:  What veg?  The recipes I’ve used always call for chopped onion. Sometimes they throw in a green bell pepper.  I have become somewhat obsessed with the savoriness that celery adds to food.  I always think it’s a strange addition to meatloaf and can’t think of a recipe that uses it. But I’ll never doubt my little celery friend again.  1 stalk chopped fine is so delicious!

The onion. I am not a huge fan of onion but I am a big fan of its flavor.  I included 1/2 onion in last nights recipe and it yielded almost 1 1/2 cups when it was chopped.  Next time I’ll go for 1/2 C per 2 lbs beef and that should add the flavor without making it overly vegetal.

Meatloaf Recipe

1 tbsp veg or olive oil

1/2 C onion, finely chopped

1 celery stalk, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced


1 C ketchup

1/2 C packed brown sugar

1 tbsp molasses

4 tsp cider viengar

1 C Pepperidge Farm Stuffing Mix, crushed fine if using the chunky version

2 large eggs

1/2 C milk

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp tobasco

2 lbs 93/7 ground beef

Preheat oven to 350°.  Heat oil 10″ skillet and add celery and onion to soften, 5 min.  Add garlic and cook 1 min.  Set aside and allow veggies to come to room temperature.

Make Sauce. In a small sauce pan, heat all ingredients until the ketchup and sugar are melted and combined, 10 min.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil before you get your hands messy.  Spray with non-stick cooking spray.  Mix the rest of the ingredients except meat in a large bowl.  Allow breadcrumbs to soak up milk. Mix in the meat with your hands and then shape into a 10x 4 loaf.  Spoon half of sauce over meatloaf.  Bake 45 minutes.  Brush with remaining ketchup mixture and cook 15 minutes more or until internal temp is 160°.


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