I make meatloaf for the promise of a cold meatloaf sandwich the next day. Thick slices on squishy sandwich bread with mayo. . . good mayo.
My mom always made the meatloaf recipe from the back of the Quaker Oats box, baking it in a rectangular meatloaf pan. Quaker’s recipe is different now, but back then it was really simple: Ground beef, tomato juice, oats, egg, onion, salt and pepper. She topped it with slices of bacon and a glaze of ketchup and brown sugar.
My meatloaf includes a lot more things and I never measure. I freeform the meatloaf on a sheetpan so that the top has more surface area to brown.
If I have one pound of ground beef I’ll make a little meatloaf and if I have two pounds, a bigger one.
To bulk up the meat, I add a lot of sautéed vegetables – carrot, onion, cauliflower, cabbage , whatever I have in my fridge.
The trinity of sauces I add to the meatloaf mix are squirts of ketchup, A1, and Worcestershire. A plop of Dijon mustard adds even more umami. Basically, if something adds umami, throw it in.
Finally, I love adding heat to the ketchup glaze. Penzey’s Hungarian Half-Sharp Paprika has some kick. I also like adding berbere, a hot and flavorful Ethiopian spice blend. Might as well add some to the meatloaf mix, too.
If you are looking for exact instructions, this is not the recipe for you. If you feel comfortable making meatloaf and improvising, it will be fine.
Most of the ingredients are optional. Use whatever you have. I wing the seasoning, sprinkling in a bunch of Lawry’s and saying a prayer. You can cook a small pinch of the mixture in a pan to test the seasoning.
Ground meat (I usually use 85/15 or 90/10 ground beef. Could also mix in pork).
1 egg (if using one pound of meat, can use just the yolk and save the white for eating later).
Finely chopped vegetables that include onions
1 clove garlic, minced (or sprinkle of garlic powder)
Dijon mustard (or yellow mustard)
Salt and pepper
Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
Panko bread crumbs
Maple syrup (or brown sugar)
Berbere and/or Half Sharp Paprika
- Preheat oven to 350-375 degrees.
- Saute chopped vegetables in some olive oil and/or butter until soft and the onions are translucent, seasoning with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool.
- In a large bowl, mix the ground meat with the egg, sautéed vegetables and garlic.
- Add a good squirt of ketchup, A1 + a few good shakes of Worcestershire.
- Add a dollop of mustard.
- Add black pepper and some Lawry’s.
- Add enough bread crumbs to hold it together. Let the mix sit for a moment before adding more breadcrumbs, because they will absorb some of the liquid.
- If you want to test the seasoning, cook a small amount in a pan.
- Shape into a loaf on a baking sheet that’s oiled, nonstick, or lined with parchment paper.
- Bake until it reaches 160 F. inside. (A meatloaf made with 2 lbs of beef took about 1.5 hours).
- Before it’s fully cooked, top with the glaze and put back into oven.
- Slice and serve with some extra sauce. Leave enough for tomorrow.