Like most cooks and chefs and long time lovers of home-cooked meals, (especially where I come from), I’ve been making meatloaf for years. I grew up eating it, and now so have my children. And considering I’m also a food blogger and recipe developer, you’d imagine I’d have my own meatloaf recipe, right?
It’s just one of those things (like mac n cheese) that I don’t have a recipe for. I make it all the time, but I just wing it and it’s essentially the same thing every time. And like my mac n cheese, I get requests for my meatloaf often. SO I decided to finally dedicate some time in documenting what I do so I can share it with all of you!
It’s fairly traditional in flavor and style, which I think most of us look for when we’re sitting down to a plate of meatloaf, and I don’t take any packaged shortcuts here – everything comes from scratch. (Although, to be honest- if you’re ever in a super big hurry, my family swears by using a package of Onion Soup Mix with your pound of beef + an egg and maybe a squirt of dijon for the easiest meatloaf mix ever!…I always have a box of it in my pantry just in case 😉 ) My recipe is also very healthy compared to all the meatloaves you see out there with 80-100% fatty meat and other additives such as sausage or bacon, and with white breadcrumbs or bread cubes… some recipes even have cream added!
But mine is just simply delicious.
It’s also gluten free… but that’s not on purpose. I just happen to do what my great grandmother, grandmother and mother have always done – use oats in place of bread or breadcrumbs. I don’t know how that started, I’m sure it was one of those spur of the moment-out of necessity situations years ago, but all us Gannaway derived women have been doing it since. Now, my mother’s meatloaf, although delicious, is different from mine- not really by flavor, but by texture. She likes hers very chunky. I happen to not… But if you do, just keep the veggies on the bigger side and you can do everything else the same!
Also… instead of the traditional ketchup topper (or in my family’s case- chili sauce!), I like to mix up my own sauce using tomato paste, brown sugar, salt and sherry. It’s not only way better for you (less sugar, super high in lycopene), but also just damn delicious. It’s rich and intensely flavored and thick and tangy and awesome.
And I don’t think I have to tell you to eat your meatloaf with mashed potatoes, right? And broccoli. So you can create a landscape on your plate of a mountain top (meatloaf), capped with snow (mashed potatoes) and beautiful trees (broccoli).
Right, mama? 😉
First we get our veggies ready. Using a food processor! So damn easy.
In the bowl of your food processor, add the following…
- 1 large carrot
- 1 large celery stalk
- 1/2 small onion (cut each veggie into big chunks for easier mixing. Or don’t and just process longer.)
- 3-4 cloves garlic, peeled
Process until your desired consistency. I prefer to take it pretty much to a paste.
And right before you’re done, add in…
- a big, fat handful of fresh parsley leaves, about 1 cup
Process again, until the parsley breaks down as well.
Set aside while you get your other ingredients together.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the following…
- 1 lb. lean ground beef (other meats can be used, but I prefer to keep it lean at around 90/10%)
- your pureed veggies
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup rolled oats (I prefer the smaller, ‘quick oats’ for this)
- Big squirt Dijon mustard (roughly 1 TB)
- Several splashes of Worcestershire sauce (roughly 2 TB+)
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 2 tsp onion powder
- 2 rounded tsp + fat pinch kosher salt
- lots of freshly cracked, black pepper
Mix with your hands. Yes, your hands. It’s the only way, I’m sorry. Be careful not to over-mix, as you don’t want to the meat to toughen up, but just be sure all the ingredients are fully combined and evenly distributed.
(Feel free to do what I do when I’m unsure of the seasoning in something I can’t taste in it’s un-cooked state, and pinch off a small bite-sized ‘meatball’ of the mixture and microwave for 15 seconds, then taste. Adjust seasoning to your liking.)
Line a baking dish or sheet tray with parchment paper. (For easy clean-up!…foil can also be used, but that needs to be greased to prevent sticking.)
Place your mound of meatloaf mix onto the parchment lined dish and form into a loaf shape, being sure to keep the same thickness throughout for even cooking.
Set aside while you prepare your sauce.
In a small bowl, combine the following…
- 1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
- Rounded 2 TB light brown sugar
- Rounded 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- Generous splash of dry sherry
Mix with a fork until smooth and slather onto your loaf using the back of a spoon or small spatula.
Place in a preheated 350 degree oven and bake for 1 1/2 hours.
Slice ‘er up!
And please serve warm with mashed potatoes and broccoli!!!
And don’t forget to play with your food… Those mountains aren’t gonna snow themselves, people!