Do you like meatloaf? Although meatloaf can be found on just about every restaurant menu across the U.S., do you know that meatloaf (the food not the singer) really hasn't been around all that long? Granted, use of ground or minced meat has been around for centuries, but the loaf concoction recognized and enjoyed today really has only been around since the 1950's. Prior to that, many cooks were suspicious of purchasing ground raw meat, in part due to poor home refrigeration availability. Companies selling meat grinders actually started publishing cookbooks showing how to cook ground raw meats as a way to promote their products. Now a days, ground beef is readily available in supermarkets, and most people go pick up a pound or two without a second thought. What was once considered the comforting blue plate special has evolved into upscale "gourmet" versions much like what's happened with the burger!
To me, meatloaf is a shape variation of a gargantuan meatball! The rules for making meatloaf are similar to the hallowed ball version ... season liberally, bind with an egg, add a filler, moisten with a liquid of sorts, and mix lightly. Once that is complete, simply form it into a loaf shape, pop it in a preheated oven, and you've got almost an hour before you have to think of it again. Super easy and super comfort.
My loaf is a very simple version in deference to my little loaf eaters' taste buds. I simply combine ground beef, Montreal Steak Seasoning, sauteed minced onions and carrots, beaten large egg, and BBQ sauce. Hmmm ... notice how that Montreal Steak Seasoning is making its way into many of my recipes? I formed it into an evenly proportioned loaf shape, placed it on a foil lined sheet, and slid it into a preheated 350 oven for 50 minutes. I then slathered it, and I mean poured it on thick, with additional BBQ sauce, and popped it back into the oven for 10 more minutes. Once out of the oven, I let it sit for 10-15 minutes before slicing. Mmmmm,mmmmm, good!
There are zillions of variations of this. Depending on where you live, some folks like to used a mixture of beef and pork, and even veal, too. Instead of oatmeal, some folks use bread crumbs, crushed saltines, cooked rice, and even crushed cheddar crackers. I've had versions where it was loaded with a wagon load of chopped veggies, stuffed with gooey cheese, contained hidden hard boiled eggs in the middle, and topped with spicy salsa. There are recipes calling for it to be coated with cream of mushroom soup, ketchup, gravy, pineapple with teryaki, or even mashed potatoes!
The important thing with meatloaf, no matter which version you try, is to not over mix it or over cook it. You'll end up with a dense, dry, blech beef slab. Properly prepared, it's tasty and the leftovers are even better. I love meatloaf sandwiches, and anticipate them the same way I do leftover turkey sandwiches at Thanksgiving.
Here's my recipe:
1.5 lbs of ground beef(10-15% fat: less fat is too dry and more fat is too greasy)
1/4 minced very fine small onion
2 small carrots, minced very fine
Butter to saute onion and carrots
3/4 cup uncooked oatmeal
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup BBQ sauce (use homemade or your favorite bottled)
Several shakes Montreal Steak Seasoning (which reminds me I'm almost out!)
1 Tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1 cup additional BBQ sauce
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. In a small saute pan, melt a little pat of butter on med heat and saute the onion and carrots until they start to wilt. Cool the veggies. In a large bowl, using a light touch, thoroughly combine the meat, cooled veggies, oatmeal, egg, 1/2 cup BBQ sauce, MSS, and parsley. Pour the meat onto the foil lined sheet, and shape into an evenly shaped loaf. Put in the oven, middle rack, for 50 minutes. Pour additional BBQ sauce on top,completely covering loaf. Put back in oven for 10 minutes. Remove and let sit for 10-15 minutes. Slice either thick or thin. Make yummy noises.
See how yummy that outer sauce is? And the texture of the meat is perfect ... not too dense, and not falling apart. It went perfect with buttery mashed potatoes!
Oh, and since I didn't use bread crumbs, this was gluten free all the way, baby! (Note: If you use commercially prepared BBQ sauce, take care that it's wheat free/gluten free!)
How do you make your meatloaf?