The Great Meatloaf Project

Welcome to the Great Meatloaf Project of 2010!But first, a little history. When I first started Idiot's Kitchen, I asked our dear friends on Facebook to submit requests and suggestions of food they would like to see featured on the website. The first response was from someone who I do not personally know....a friend of a friend. Four short minutes after my post, Jeanne replied with the dreaded words, "Meatloaf dinner!"

Welcome to the Great Meatloaf Project of 2010!

But first, a little history. When I first started Idiot’s Kitchen, I asked our dear friends on Facebook to submit requests and suggestions of food they would like to see featured on the website.

The first response was from someone who I do not personally know….a friend of a friend. Four short minutes after my post, Jeanne replied with the dreaded words, “Meatloaf dinner!”

Have I mentioned that I hate meatloaf?

When I was a kid, I always knew when meatloaf was on the menu because when asked what was for dinner, my mother would reply, “You’ll LOVE it!”

In fact, my parents still call me when they’re having meatloaf just to give me a hard time. “Too bad you’re not here…’d LOVE dinner tonight.” Geez.

I’m not a picky eater so I don’t have any rational explanation for my hatred of all things meatloaf. I like all of the ingredients individually… so why continue to malign the poor meatloaf?

Thus the Great Meatloaf Project of 2010 was born. I made it my goal to find and make a meatloaf that not only would I eat, but I would actually enjoy.

Now would be a good time to mention that THIS MEATLOAF RECIPE ROCKS!

Did I just say that?

Here’s what you need:

Ground Beef, Ground Pork, 3 slices of white bread, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, 2 eggs, red onion, brown sugar, dry mustard powder, Tabasco sauce, olive oil, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, salt & pepper.

Click HERE for a Handy-Dandy Shopping List

I’m using both ground  beef and ground pork. I bought very lean ground beef (only 7% fat) because the pork provides plenty of fat for a moist loaf.

Also, using white bread instead of dried breadcrumbs or crackers keeps the loaf from drying out.

If you have a food processor, you can save yourself a bit of time. If not, use a grater to shred the vegetables.

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Begin by cutting the crusts off of 3 slices of fresh, squishy white bread.

Tear into smaller pieces and process in the food processor until you get bread crumbs. If you don’t have a food processor, crumble the bread into tiny pieces to make fresh breadcrumbs.

Put the bread crumbs in a large mixing bowl and set aside. Peel and cut three carrots (about 1 cup) into small chunks.

Chop 1 rib from a stalk of celery and a small yellow onion into chunks and add with the carrots to the food processor.

The key is to have all of the veggies about the same size when they go into the food processor. This will help everything to grind up evenly.

Smash and peel 2 cloves of garlic and add them to the other veggies.

Now give them a whirl in the food processor until they are in very small pieces.

Remember, if you don’t have a food processor, you can get the same results by grating your carrot, celery and onion and chopping the garlic up into tiny pieces. Tear or crumble the bread into small crumbs.

Add your shredded veggies to the bread crumbs and set aside.

Lightly beat 2 eggs.

In a separate bowl, add the eggs to the ground beef and ground pork. Add 1/2 cup of ketchup to the meat mixture.

Add 2 teaspoons of ground dry mustard powder.

Ground Mustard is a powder found in the spice section. It gives this recipe a nice tangy flavor. DO NOT try to substitute regular mustard because the added liquid will make the loaf too wet.

Add 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper to the meat.

Add 1 teaspoon of Tabasco Sauce for a little kick…. Once again, as with the mustard, if you like your food extra spicy better to add more hot sauce to your own plate AFTER the meatloaf has cooked so the ingredients don’t get too wet.

And 1 Tablespoon of Worcestershire Sauce.

Now for the fun part! Using your clean hands, get right in there and smoosh all of these ingredients together to combine.

Don’t get too carried away here…just gently work through the meat until everything is nicely mixed. Then add the meat to the vegetable/breadcrumb mixture and combine but don’t over mix.

This mixture will be quite wet and sticky. That’s okay because it ensures us a moist, delicious meatloaf.

I cooked my meatloaf on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. HOWEVER, next time I make it, I will follow my Mom’s suggestion and cook it on the broiler pan.

Do you have a broiler pan? It looks like this and is probably sitting, unused and unloved in that little drawer under your oven.

please excuse that my broiler pan looks a little worse for the wear

If you have a broiler pan, spray the top with non-stick cooking spray and fill the bottom with a little bit of water. This will help the meatloaf stay moist during cooking and also make the bottom of the pan easier to clean.

If you’re like me (who was  not smart enough to call her mother BEFORE the meatloaf went in the oven), you can use a baking sheet pan with sides. Line it with a layer of parchment paper (found in the same area as the aluminum foil) to keep the meatloaf from sticking and to absorb some of the grease.

Form the meat mixture into a loaf shape in the middle of the pan.

Try to keep the thickness the same so that the loaf cooks evenly all the way through.

Now for the topping. Mix 2 Tablespoons of brown sugar with 3 Tablespoons of Ketchup and 2 teaspoons of dry mustard powder.

Stir this together until combined and smooth.

Lightly brush the ketchup/sugar/dry mustard mixture over the top of the meatloaf.

Most recipes would stop here. But not our fabulous recipe. Oh no. We need something even better for a topping….caramelized onions!

Caramelized Onions — Because We Can! (I think I’ll have that printed on a t-shirt.)

Slice a red onion (I’m using 1/2 because my onion was huge) into rings.

In a medium skillet or saute pan, heat 1 Tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, separating the rings.

Cook over medium heat (about 5 minutes) until the onions become tender and slightly browned. Add 3 Tablespoons of water to the onions.

Cook a few more minutes until all the water has been absorbed.

Top your meatloaf with these delicious onions.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for approximately 1 hour or until an instant read thermometer reads 160 degrees. My loaf cooked for about an hour and 10 minutes.

If I had used my broiler pan, all of this grease would have drained down to the bottom away from my meat loaf. Oh well, next time….

Transfer the meatloaf to a plate and let it rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

I’m not saying that I now love all meatloaf, but I do love THIS meatloaf.

Tender, moist and tangy. The caramelized onions put this recipe over the top!

Oh, did I mention that I had 2 pieces?

Here’s the recipe — adapted from our good friend Martha Stewart. Thanks Martha!


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6 Responses

  1. My meatloaf is the same except without Ketchup (which I hate), and no celery and no carrots. Instead I add freshly chopped Italian parsley. I top mine with bacon strips before putting it in the oven. The bacon on top gets nice and crispy while baking and keeps the moisture in the meatloaf.
    You can use the same meat dough, stuff green peppers with it, put a clittle chopped bacon in the bottom of the pot or pan, set your peppers in it, add one can of condensed Campbell tomato soup (no water) and either simmer on top of the stove or bake in the oven. When done, take out the peppers and put on a platter, then add sourcream to the tomato gravy for a smooth finish.

  2. This looks adaptable to a sort of sausage roll thing, to me, for my boys. But I got a small question maybe you can answer for me: when using a food processor to process an ingredient mix very similar to this I finished up with a very wet mix.

    Seems food processors smash up the vegetable’s cells so much they let all the liquid out.

    Then when I baked the sausage rolls made with this they took twice as long and the moistness mucked up the (shop bought) flaky pastry.

    What can I do about this?

    And I admit I didn’t have any breadcrumbs – would that perhaps be the secret?

  3. You might try grating rather than the food processor. Sometimes it really makes things wet. For meatloaf, I think this is a good thing as it keeps things nice and moist. Another idea would be to squeeze out the excess liquid from the veggies before adding them to your sausage rollls. Hope this helps. Sausage rolls sound interesting and good!

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