Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Classic Meat Loaf

Most of you who are reading this blog probably already know how to make meatloaf, but for those who don't, here is the classic meatloaf recipe that I have been making since I was about 10. It was one of my father's favorite foods and only he and my sisters and I ate it since my Mom didn't like anything except Chinese food. So, I usually made it when she wasn't home. There is something so incredibly comforting about meatloaf. It is rustic and chunky with onions and so good with mashed potatoes. I like using just ground beef but many recipes call for a mixture of ground beef mixed with ground veal and pork. I used bread as the filler although you can certainly use oats. I also tend to make a smaller meatloaf than many people. I think it is because I usually only have 1 pound of ground beef at a time in the freezer and most recipes call for 1 1/2 pounds. I also like to form it into a loaf shape and then bake it in a larger baking pan so that all the sides get crusty. When you cook it in a loaf pan, it is more tender as it cooks in its own fat, but I like when the fat drains away. I also like a lot more ketchup baked on it so I like to cover it all so every piece has that wonderful baked ketchup flavor all around it. I once had a great meatloaf at a famous Tennessee restaurant that had a topping that was tomato paste doctored with brown sugar and green pepper and Worcestershire Sauce and that was good too. I've made it with all kinds of chopped up vegetables - even beets as my father loved to have me experiment with the ingredients. He loved it when I put in hard boiled eggs so that every slice had a piece of egg in it. But I am a purist about meatloaf and I like it best when it is really simple.

Meatloaf is also wonderful cold as a sandwich the next day. I usually add a little ketchup to the mayonnaise and also add some lettuce. Served with potato chips, it is just wonderful and many restaurants serve it these days for a lot more than it costs to make at home. This recipe is for my son Stephen since meatloaf is one of his favorite foods too and he needs to learn how to make it. It's so easy and so good!

Classic Meatloaf

1 pound of ground beef
2 slices of stale bread (can also use about 1/2 cup oats)
1/3 - 1/2 cup warm milk (depending on size of bread pieces or you can use beef broth)
1 small onion minced fine
1 egg
1/4 cup ketchup + 1/2 cup for topping
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
1 teaspoon Lawry's Seasoned Salt or plain salt if preferred
1/4 teaspoon pepper

In a small bowl, soak bread (or oats) in milk and push with a fork until bread pieces are mashed. Add egg and Worcestershire Sauce. In a large bowl, put in ground beef, onion 1/4 cup ketchup, seasoned salt and pepper. Add in soaked bread mixture and mix thoroughly with your hands (nothing else works as well). When it is thoroughly combined, place in a baking pan at least 9 x 9 inches. Mound meat in the center and shape into a loaf. Cover with remaining ketchup on top and down the sides. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 55 minutes. Cool for at least 15 minutes before slicing into 1 1/2" pieces.

Five Element Analysis

Beef is an Earth Food so meatloaf is inherently Earthy. The bread adds in the Wood Element. The Worcestershire Sauce brings in the Water Element and so does the egg. Onions are from the Metal Element although they ending up cooking for a long time so they really contribute more Earth. So the milk brings in the Metal Element instead. Ketchup adds some much needed Fire and guess what - meatloaf by itself is more balanced than even I realized!

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