Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Meatloaf - It's What's for Dinner

Did you know there are almost as many recipes for meatloaf out there as there are people who have ever made meatloaf? I was so amused today searching for meatloaf recipes to make for dinner. I know not everyone is a fan of the humble American food staple of ground meat mixed with vegetables and/or carbohydrate, patted together and baked as a loaf, but I am personally a fan of a good meatloaf. I was firmly in the non-meatloaf eating camp (I can't tell you how many recipe reviews today I read that started with "I don't really like meatloaf but...") until my early 20s. My only experience up to that point was a peek at a fresh-from-the-oven loaf swimming in its own grease...YUCK. Then I had one that was made with very lean beef, chock full of chopped vegetables, and spiced up with a perfect blend of seasonings. Ever since then I've been searching for Our Family's Recipe for meatloaf. I've tried several: a Tex-Mex version made with salsa, a Cheeselover's version made with (obviously) plenty of cheese, a Barbecue-flavored meatloaf, but still haven't found one that I wanted to make more than twice. A couple of weeks ago I brought home a ready-made meal from Central Market that had a glazed meatloaf, macaroni and cheese, steamed broccoli, and fresh rolls. Would you believe Miss P readily ate a small amount of everything? I was happy all evening after she put down that meal. So today I decided to try to reproduce the experience. I went on the search for a glazed meatloaf and was promptly overwhelmed by all of the results. I went with the first one that didn't call for anything I didn't already have in the kitchen. It turned out really well and was delicious with a side of roasted cauliflower. Miss P ate about 5 bites and then decided she'd rather be entertained that eat. I have high hopes for trying again with leftovers!

I like meatloaf because:
I can use ground beef from my Father-in-law's ranch. It's very lean, from grass-fed cattle, no added hormones, etc.
It's easy
It's inexpensive
It's healthy (ok, not if you make the Cheeselover's version)
It tastes good
There is a good chance Miss Picky will eat it
There is a 100% chance Zeke and I will eat it
The leftovers taste great in a toasty sandwich or wrapped in a hot tortilla

Here is the recipe for a good standard glazed meatloaf:
1.5 lbs lean ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
15 saltine crackers, finely crushed
2 eggs
3/4 C milk
1 dash Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1.5 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1/2 C ketchup
1/4 C brown sugar

Combine all the ingredients other than the glaze in a large mixing bowl. Form mixture into a loaf and pat into a 9x5 loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour, making sure a meat thermometer reaches 160 degrees. Halfway through the baking time put the glaze on the meatloaf and return it to the oven. See if your picky eaters like it too!