So I know meatloaf isn’t exactly glamorous, or particularly summery for that matter, but we enjoyed this meal so much that I felt inclined to share. Plus, it’s the ultimate manly man meal, which we, including those that aren’t manly men, or men at all, need every once in a while.
It all started when my best friend had a baby – a perfect, tiny, angel of a baby named Jax. Seeing as having a baby is kind of a life-altering event in ones life, one which leaves you fatigued, drained and covered in spit up; a group of our girlfriends and Angie’s family decided to put together a meal train of sorts. Even though we can’t take the sleepless nights away, or change a bazillion diapers, the least we can do is to take away one stressful part of the day – dinner time – and leave Mom and Dad plenty of time to focus on their new bundle of joy.
Of course, I wanted to give them meals that they would actually enjoy – did they want casseroles? Healthy dishes? Chicken? Beef? Salads? Soups? But after much poking and prodding of the mama-to-be she was unrelenting in revealing what kind of food they would want, always responding with an, “Anything is perfect!” So I switched gears, and decided to go to the person I knew wouldn’t hold back – her husband, who also happens to be one my husband’s best friends (Just like in the movies!). When I casually asked him what he would want, he immediately offered up meatloaf, and what do you know, my husband’s ears immediately perked up as well. There would be meatloaf for all!
I went with a pretty standard meatloaf preparation, adapted from the queens of meatloaf making, my Mother and Miss Ina. I started out with a somewhat lean mix of ground beef, half 86% lean, and half 90% lean, I didn’t want to go completely lean, and take away the flavor of the beef, which is obviously what you want to shine through in a MEATloaf. If you must (and sometimes I do), you can use ground sirloin, but you may have to adjust the liquid ingredients to keep the interior nice and moist.
For added flavor I use a mixture of sautéed onions, garlic, tomato paste, worcestershire sauce and ketchup.
To ensure maximum moisture, I used a little trick I learned from Tyler Florence; instead of using straight dry breadcrumbs, I soak torn white bread in a little bit of milk, and then add it to the meat mixture – results in a super moist and soft texture every single time. Three eggs are added to bind everything together, and then of course, plenty of salty is thrown in for seasoning.
The topping is simple, and how my Mom always makes her meatloaf, it’s just two ingredients – ketchup and plenty of brown sugar. I like this versus straight ketchup, because the brown sugar almost caramelizes in the oven giving the top a sticky and sweet, yet savory finishing touch that my family loves.
Now, I’m giving you a warning, this makes A LOT, obviously, because I’m making meatloaf sandwiches out of the leftovers today. But honestly, I like it that way, because what is meatloaf without leftover meatloaf sandwiches? These are pretty straightforward, the leftover meatloaf is smothered in sliced mozzarella cheese, popped into the (gasp!) microwave and then topped with homemade crispy fried onions (essential) and smooshed between two slices of plain ol’ country white bread.
Simple, homey and oh-so delicious…
- 3 pounds ground beef 86% lean
- 1 pound groun beef 90% lean
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped (about two cups)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
- 4 tablespoon chicken stock
- 3 teaspoons salt, divided
- 2 cups, ketchup divided (1/2 cup in the loaf the other on top)
- 3 eggs, lightly scrambled
- 4 slices bread, torn into pieces (about 2 cups loosely packed)
- ½ cup milk
- ¼ + 1/8 cup brown sugar
- 20-24 slices country or ciabatta bread
- 10-12 slices mozzarella cheese
- 2 large onions, sliced thin
- 1 ½ cups flour
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 teaspoons salt
- Canola oil for frying
- ½ cup basil (optional)
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl, add torn bread, cover in milk, let soak for 5-10 minutes.
- In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil over a medium heat, add onion and garlic. Sauté until soft, about five minutes. Add Worcestershire, tomato paste, chicken stock and 1 teaspoon salt. Cook another 2-3 minutes.
- In a large bowl combine meats, add onion mixture, remaining salt, eggs, bread and milk and ½ cup ketchup. Mix just until combined.
- On parchment paper, form into two loaves. If needed, use two sheet pans.
- In a small bowl combine remaining ketchup and brown sugar. Spread evenly on two meatloaves.
- Pop in the oven, and bake for one hour or until cooked through.
- You can serve the meatloaf as is, but if you want sandwiches, see below.
- In a medium sauté pan, heat about an inch of oil to 350 degrees.
- Combine flour and salt in small bowl.
- Add buttermilk to small bowl.
- Coat sliced onion in buttermilk, shaking off excess. Coat in flour, shake off excess. In batches (do not overcrowd pan), fry onions until crispy and golden brown, about 30 seconds.
- Place meatloaf slice on bottom piece of bread and top with one slice of cheese. If you’re making only a few sandwiches, pop in the microwave for one minute until cheese is melted, then top with basil, onions and top piece of bread. If you’re feeding a crowd you can line the bread up on a baking sheet, top with meatloaf and one piece of cheese, and pop into a 350 degree oven until the cheese is melted and the meatloaf is heated through. Top with basil, onions and remaining piece of bread.