Yes, Meatloaf!! Growing up my brother Scott and I had a favorite meal. It was meatloaf, mashed potatoes and green beans. This was our go to meal for our birthdays. I know we are weird. Kids are not supposed to like meatloaf but we loved it. What is the difference between meatloaf and a good hamburger? Mustard? Yes! Ketchup? Yes! Onions? Yes! Hamburger in a loaf!!
My Mom and Pop both made meatloaf but they made it rather differently. Mom would use lots of onions and green peppers and then she would put ketchup, bacon and sometimes a piece of American cheese on top and bake. Pop liked to use flavor packets that you found in the spice isle of the grocery store. Mom did not like this because she said there was too much garlic. Mom does not like garlic. Scott and I did not care who made the meatloaf. We liked all meatloaf. We didn’t care who made the mashed potatoes either. Mom would make mashed potatoes with potatoes, milk and butter. Pop sometimes liked to mash the potatoes with an Old Fashioned masher. That left lumps. Mom did not like the lumps and she let everyone know about it. Scott and I again did not care about the lumps. Sometimes, Pop mixed the mashed potatoes with instant potatoes. Mom did not like instant mashed potatoes, Scott and I again, did not care. As you can tell, Scott and I were pretty easy to please, food wise. The green beans were good just if they didn’t have too much salt.
My meatloaf has evolved over the years. To keep the peace, I would make it Mom’s way when I lived at home. It was just easier to make things the way mom likes them. However, during college I started to experiment more with cooking. I was more of a baker in college. One of my awesome college roommates, Cheryl Stephens Painter, once said she loved when it snowed because she knew I would be baking. There was something about the snow that made me want to bake.
After graduation and moving into my own place in Charlotte, I took a few cooking classes. Queens College in Charlotte used to have evenings where a local chef would pass out recipes and cook for us and we would eat and talk about food. I took a couple of these classes. One was, of course. baking which is the one that I started with. I was still more of a baker at that time. Then, in 1995, I went to the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans to see VA Tech play Texas. We won by the way. (Go Hokies!) I was introduced to New Orleans food! I’ve been to NOLA three times, all three times for Sugar Bowls and I have never had a bad meal! My love for cooking was born. Not just baking, food! It just so happened after that first Super Bowl that the local Chef had a class on New Orleans cooking. I haven’t looked back since. Jambalaya, etouffee, gumbo, red beans and rice. Food Network had just started on TV with some early shows. I fell in love. Every Saturday morning, I would watch Food Network , collect recipes, purchase the ingredients at the food store and make them in my tiny apartment kitchen. The Staff Photographer was not born yet therefore it was just me. Sometimes Karen and Alan would be my guinea pigs.
One Saturday morning, I was up watching Food Network’s “Tyler Florence, How to Boil Water”. I loved that show. It took meals and took them back to simple how to instructions. Sometimes, I wanted simple. Beyond simple. This morning, Tyler was making meatballs. He explained what he had learned from a local woman in Italy. She took 4 slices of bread, cut off the crusts and soaked the bread in a cup of milk for about 2 minutes. Then, she squeezed the milk gently out but leaving some of the milk in the bread. Tyler was using this for meatballs. I thought, why not add the soaked bread to a meatloaf along with some onions and peppers and a little seasoning. I usually added a dash or two of cumin, parsley, salt and pepper to my meatloaf mixture. Now I use the bread soaked in milk in my meatloaf recipe. My meatloaf evolution had began. I played around with it over the years but the following recipe is my go to recipe. I love to use The Pampered Chef chopper to mince the veggies. It saves so much time!
- 2 pounds ground beef chuck
- 4 slices of bread, crusts trimmed off
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 black pepper
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- 1 teaspoon turmeric (optional)
- 1 small can tomato sauce
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/3 cup yellow onion, minced
- 1/4 cup green pepper, minced
- 1 small clove garlic, minced
- 1 egg, beaten
- 3 strips of bacon, cut in half
- 1/3 cup ketchup
- 1/3 cup yellow prepared mustard
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Prepare a baking dish, sheet pan or muffin pan with cooking spray, olive oil or coconut oil. Cut off the crusts of the bread. Place the slices of bread in a bowl of 1 cup of milk and allow the bread to soak for 2 minutes. Gently squeeze any excess milk leaving some of the milk in the bread. Break the bread into pieces into a bowl. Add the ground chuck and mix. I use my cleaned hands. Add all the vegetables, beaten egg and seasonings and mix until just combined. Don't mix and knead the mixture too much.
- Place the beef mixture into your prepared pan, muffin pan or baking sheet. Shape into a loaf as needed. Place the bacon across the meatloaf. In a medium size bowl, combine the topping and pour over the meatloaf. Place in the prepared oven and bake for about 45 minutes depending on your oven. Once baking is complete, remove the meatloaf from the oven and allow it to sit uncut on the counter for about 5 minutes.
- You can use this recipe for meatloaf muffins using a muffin pan.
- You can double the recipe and freeze one meatloaf or meatloaf muffins.
- Leftovers make great sandwiches.
Photos courtesy of food.com and allrecipes.com