I adore meatloaf. A drastic change from my youth, when the very thought of the gooey, hamburger-ish, veggie-filled substance topped with ketchup made me gag. I remember giant chunks of onions and green peppers squishing in my mouth. Baked ketchup oozing between the particles of ground meat. Even now my stomach churns at the thought.
I mean no disrespect to my mother’s cooking – she is a wonderful cook. She had in her repertoire, however, things my childish taste buds could not abide: 13 bean soup, any form of green beans and meatloaf.
Recently we had purchased a large quantity of ground beef and I had to find some creative ways to use it. One cannot eat homemade tacos and hamburgers for all eternity, regardless of what my husband may tell you. So I set out on a quest for meatloaf that wouldn’t make me gag.
I’m pleased to announce my quest was so successful that meatloaf has become a staple in our house. My apologies to the unknown cook who first made this recipe available online, and won’t receive the credit. Also, dear unknown chef, my sincerest thanks!
I don’t know why panko bread crumbs are special – but that is my (no longer) secret ingredient. It alters the consistency, so the loaf is lighter and more moist than when I use regular bread crumbs. They’re also a guilty indulgence in a house that eats practically no refined flours or sugars – alas, I’ve never found whole-grain panko bread crumbs.
The recipe is simple and unpretentious. While it would make for a late dinner on a weekday, its an easy meal to pop in the oven on a Saturday afternoon, and then enjoy another hour of your weekend.
- 1 lb ground beef – grass fed if possible
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten – try free range
- 1 c Japanese-style panko bread crumbs
- 1/2 c ketchup of your choice – consider Nourished Kitchen’s homemade ketchup
- 1 TBSP onion powder
- 1 TBSP garlic powder
- 1 TBSP salt-free seasoning blend of your choice
- sea salt & fresh cracked pepper to taste
- 1/4 c ketchup for drizzling
Dump all your ingredients (except that last 1/4 cup of ketchup) into a generous sized mixing bowl. Remove any jewelry you wear below the elbow (my wedding & engagement rings are tucked safely in my apron pocket). Its time to get your fingers dirty.
Nothing mixes meatloaf like your bare hands. At first I was squeamish about the raw meat and eggs. Then I discovered that its like kneading bread – highly therapeutic! So go for it – squish all those goodies together until its well combined.
Shape into a loaf and place on a lightly greased baking sheet. Top with the remaining ketchup. Bake at 350 degrees for 60 minutes.
If you’re clever, there are adjustments you can make. For a weekday dinner, try mini-meatloaves in muffin tins – they should bake more quickly than a large loaf. All those seasonings are more like guidelines. I haven’t had garlic powder in weeks – I’ve been using cumin. The flavor is more subtle, but there’s nothing wrong with subtle. Just don’t try to substitute garlic salt. Bad idea.
This recipe should feed 4 – but its so tasty, who can resist seconds? It also doubles easily – just double all the ingredients and shape into two loaves.
While my meatloaf is cooking, I put on a pot of quartered redskin potatoes to boil. Be sure to start with cold water; I forgot the other night and ended up with grey potatoes. Ick.
Potatoes usually finish in 30-40 minutes. Then I toss them in my stand mixer with some butter, whole milk and a little sea salt and pepper. Flip it on until potatoes reach your preferred consistency.
While you whip your potatoes, steam some asparagus stalks – 6 minutes and no longer. Wait just until they turn deep green – they should still be crunchy and not look at all wilted or bedraggled. Drizzle with lemon juice, plain salt and pepper.
Random fact – did you know its proper table etiquette to eat asparagus stalks either with your fingers or a knife and fork? I always indulge myself and use my fingers. I can’t help it.
In the midst of all that , I still manage to watch a rerun of Frasier.
In other news – I’m working on Gabriel Garcia-Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera. Its one I want to indulge in a little; its rich and intoxicating, like a piece of chocolate candy full of hazelnut liqueur. So, I beg patience as I sit in this literary bubble bath a little longer.