Although my mom was really good in the kitchen, I never much cared for her meatloaf. Hers was tomato sauce-based and I used to cringe when she served it. The only thing I liked about meatloaf night was the mountain of mashed potatoes with a little lake of butter melting in the top.
When I was a newlywed, I looked for food to make for dinner. I had a few basics I knew how to create - I could grill a steak and roast a turkey - but that was about it. My husband is rather inept in the kitchen. He'll be the first to admit it, so I'm not being mean. He can make eggs for breakfast and he makes killer French Toast (I mean "killer" literally. We lost two birds due to his culinary talents), but he doesn't know the difference between all-purpose and cake flour, nor how to decide when steaks are done on the grill. Can you say chewy?
Anyway, when I was newly married, I thought I should find a good meatloaf recipe. And I did. No tomato sauce (hooray!) but just a great combination that made for a delicious, moist meatloaf. I found a great one in the Betty Crocker Cookbook (a newlywed or new-on-your-own's best friend!) but I've modified it over the years. I love what it's become. So does everyone else who's tried it.
I know we've featured meatloaves on this blog before, but here's mine:
1.5 pounds hamburger
1.5 pounds ground pork
2 cups breadcrumbs (I use seasoned)
2 cups milk
4 slices of bread (I use the heels/ends of my wheat bread. Better than throwing them out)
1 medium-large onion chopped (I like onions and add a little extra)
2 Tbsp Worcestershire
1 tsp dry mustard
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Preheat oven to 350.
Soak bread in water, squeeze them out so they're wet but not dripping.
Combine meats either by hand or in a large mixer. I used my stand mixer and a dough hook to get things started. Add all ingredients, one at a time in the order listed above. After everything is combined, I mush it all by hand so the meatloaf doesn't get too smooth. I like it a little coarse. Too smooth seems too processed.
HINT: You may already know this, but my mom taught me to always break my eggs into a small bowl before adding it to my mix. Not just for meatloaf, but for everything. She warned that if I added a bad egg (it happens) I would ruin whatever I'd combined so far. So far I've only encountered one bad egg in my life, but it is always worth breaking (and smelling) eggs before adding them.
Once the mixture is combined to your satisfaction, shape it into two loaves and place in pans. No need to do anything to the pans ahead of time. You'll see my loaf pan here, but before I got these, I used to make one giant meatloaf and bake it in a 9 x 13 pan. Works just fine too.
Bake for about an hour and a half (longer if it's one big loaf). You'll know when it's ready because the fat around the sides begins to bubble. You can check for doneness too, by slicing in the middle to check.
This is a great basic. A real go-to recipe for me.
These days my kids suggest I find another name for meatloaf: "How appealing is it to say you're serving a loaf of meat?" They have a point...But - except for my lone vegetarian - they eat it. And love it.
You can cut this in half if you're only making one loaf. I usually make two at at time because this makes for excellent leftovers and sandwiches the next day.
Serve with mashed potatoes and a green veggie and you have one of my favorite home-cooked meals.
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