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Friday, January 8, 2016

Meatloaf - Perfected!

I've been making meatloaf for years. Decades, really. It's gone through a number of iterations as the years dragged on, some better than others. I posted about my bacon wrapped meatloaves early on in the life of this blog. They are good, but the whole bacon thing fell by the wayside as I came to realize that the true glory of meatloaf is how easy it is to make at the last minute. The bacon wrapping puts a kink in that "easy." So, I stopped wrapping, but I still wasn't quite satisfied. Then, one night, I was really in a hurry to get the meatloaf made and decided to not even bother with dicing an onion; I'd use dried minced onion instead. What a revelation! I'm not entirely sure why it makes such a difference, but it does. To be honest, my meatloaf often gave me heartburn when I made it with fresh onion and garlic. Now, it never does. I absolutely adore my new recipe. It is so simple, so easy to make, and so delicious. It's tender, moist, and meaty.

Now, before I give you the recipe, let's talk just a moment about the top of a meatloaf. The classic is ketchup, but I've never been a big fan. It's not thick enough and it's too sweet. I really like using just plain tomato paste, but my husband has kind of given me the turned up nose at it. I recently decided to try mixing tomato paste and ketchup 50-50 and have decided it is the clear winner. You can go with whichever of those three sounds best to you, but my vote now goes solidly in the 50-50 camp.

Meatloaf - Perfected!
Yield: serves 4

1 lb lean ground beef (~93% lean)
1 egg
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp garlic powder
2 TBS dried, minced onions
1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup ketchup

1/3 cup tomato paste or ketchup, or a 50-50 mix of the two

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with foil. In a large bowl mix all ingredients thoroughly. Dump onto the sheet pan and form into a flat, rounded loaf. Shoot for a loaf thinner than two inches, or it will take a really long time to bake. The recipe as written will make a loaf about 5"x10"x2". Recipe can be doubled easily, simply increase the cooking time to roughly one hour. If you want to make more than a double recipe, make more than one loaf to keep the cooking time reasonable. Spread the topping over the entire surface of the loaf. Sprinkle with a little oregano or parsley, if desired. Bake for 45 minutes or until cooked through. Let cool slightly before serving so that it does not fall apart when sliced.

NOTE: If you eat a lot of processed foods or tend to eat a lot of foods high in sodium, you will probably not be satisfied with the seasoning level as written. Increase the amount of salt you add, but don't go too crazy because there is a lot of sodium hiding in both the bread crumbs and the ketchup. Try 1/2 to 3/4 of a tsp the first time you make it and adjust from there.

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