Thursday, November 19, 2015

Meatloaf

Meatloaf is one of those dishes that I seldom cook up.  It just doesn't sound very appetizing.  It's a loaf.  Of meat.  Well, let me slap on a feed bag, and chow down!  However, there are few other dishes that are named so fittingly, either.  I suppose because they're usually a little more complicated than a loaf of meat.  
However, meatloaf always surprises me.  I seldom make it, because it doesn't sound very good, but when I do make it, I'm always surprised at how good it is, and find myself saying, "...why don't I make this more often??"
There's one secret ingredient that I use, and a few things (other than onions, of course!) that I leave out of my meatloaf.  I know most people put diced veggies in their meatloaves, but I never got into that.  This meatloaf is still moist, flavorful, and has a really lovely consistency.  Its meatloaf, what else is there to say?  Lets get into this!
Here's your grocery list for today's meal:
1.5 lbs ground chuck
2 eggs
3/4 C ground cornbread crumbs
1/4 C Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp dried thyme
2 tsp garlic powder
2 cloves of garlic, grated over a zester
1.5 - 2 tsp Kosher salt
Squirt of ketchup for the top

Yep, that's it.  I like my food simple, and to speak for itself, so I try to keep my recipes with few ingredients.  I will sometimes substitute Panko for my cornbread crumbs, however I always have leftover cornbread (sadly, my husband doesn't have the love affair with bread that I do...), so I put my leftover cornbread into my food processor, and viola!  Cornbread crumbs!  I put them in a zip top baggie, and stick it in the freezer until I need them (for meatloaf, to thicken soups, anything like that!)



Since we're going to be needing the oven for this, lets go on and preheat it to 425*, so it will be ready for us, by the time that we're ready for it!  When I'm building my meatloaf, I very much have set steps that I follow.  I always start with breaking my eggs into a bowl, and lightly beating them.  Then I add in the Worcestershire sauce, and mix that in, before adding in the thyme, garlic powder, grated garlic and cornbread crumbs.  A quick word about the grated garlic, since it is grated, it turns into a paste, and disappears into the mixture, so you'll never see it in the mix!



I also don't have a meatloaf pan.  You know, the ones that nest inside of one another, with the one that has the holes on the bottom?  I have tons of pots and pans and bakeware, and I honestly don't need something else cluttering up my cabinets, for something I only make once in a blue moon.  So, I improvise.  I take a baking sheet, cover it in aluminum foil, put a cooling rack on top of that, and then I cover that with aluminum foil.  Honestly, I should just buy stock in aluminum foil.  I reach for that stuff all day long!  But, I digress.  I poke holes on the top of the cooling rack covered, for the fat to melt through.  The fat will then be caught on by the aluminum foil covered baking sheet, thus making clean up a breeze! 

I just poke these holes with a knife, over and over and over again.  It only takes a couple of minutes.
Now then, add your meat to the cornbread crumb mixture, and just mix it until it comes together.  If you over-mix this, it will be crumbly.  If you under-mix this, it will be crumbly.  Once you're happy with how you have it mixed, dump it onto your foil covered cooling rack, and form it into the classic loaf shape.  I like to make mine somewhat flat and narrow; it helps make for a more even cooking surface, so that the outside doesn't burn by the time the inside is cooked all of the way through.

I just squirt a healthy amount of ketchup in a line down the top of the loaf, and spread it out with a knife.  My husband likes to sometimes have me put BBQ sauce all over the meatloaf, but I prefer ketchup.





Now, slide this loaf of meat into the oven for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, then let it rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing it up!  
This doesn't stick to the aluminum foil, and once you see the mess that gets left behind, you'll thank me for the tip on lining everything in foil!