Ah, meatloaf. There’s really no middle ground with it – it’s either awful, or it’s fantastic.
Unfortunately, due to many “traditional” ways of preparation, it’s often been the former, leading some to shy away from this American delicacy. But I submit that it is, in fact, only mistakes made in the preparation of this loafy, meaty dish of goodness which has created the unfair disparagement meatloaf often receives. Let’s look at a few of the most common mistakes made when preparing meatloaf:
- Cooking in a Pan. Blecch. Don’t do it. When you cook a meatloaf in a pan, it doesn’t roast as it should – it boils in its own juices. “Hey kids! Who wants some boiled meat??” Eugghh . . . grossness. A true meatloaf should be hand-formed and roasted on parchment paper upon a baking sheet.
- Slathering in Ketchup. Don’t get me wrong: I love burgers and fries slathered in ketchup. But meatloaf is NOT burgers and fries. The tang of ketchup is too sharp to smear on your masterpiece as-is. Ketchup must be diluted and enhanced with other flavors in order to form a more perfect “ketchup glaze.”
- Not Enough Flavor. No one wants bland slabs of formed, ground meat for dinner. Meatloaf can and SHOULD be awesome! Fill it with spices, vegetables, seasonings, flavor enhancers – be creative and have FUN!
After years of eating mediocre meatloaf, I went on a mission to pen what I feel is the perfect meatloaf recipe. It took about 4 years of trial-and-error, but I truly believe I’ve finally perfected the recipe and, being the benevolent soul I am, I shall post it for you here.
World’s Greatest Glazed Meatloaf Recipe
by Clint Ford
- 1 cup Italian bread crumbs
- 1 cup oatmeal
- 2 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 Tbsp. Italian seasoning
- ½ tsp. ground black pepper
- ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp. dried thyme
- 2 lbs. ground beef
- 1 onion, roughly chopped (sautéed, if you prefer)
- 1 carrot, diced
- 1 celery stalk, diced
- ¼ red bell pepper, diced
- ¼ green bell pepper, diced
- 1 Tbsp. diced garlic
- ½ cup chunky salsa (I use “On The Border” brand – best so far!)
- 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 eggs
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 1 tsp. fennel seed
- 1 tsp. beef (or chicken) bouillon granules
- ¼ cup glaze (recipe follows)
- 1 cup ketchup
- 2/3 cup brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 tsp. mustard powder
- 2 tablespoons ground cumin
- 2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
- 2 dashes hot sauce (preferably “Frank’s Red Hot” or “Louisiana Hot Sauce”)
- 2 Tbsp. honey
- Preheat oven to 325°.
- Combine bread crumbs, oatmeal, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, black pepper, cayenne pepper, chili powder and thyme in a large bowl. Incorporate, and add ground beef.
- In a separate bowl, mix the onion, carrot, celery, bell peppers, garlic and salsa. Incorporate this mixture with the bread crumb/meat mixture.
- Season the meat with the kosher salt. Add the eggs, lemon juice, fennel seed, and bouillon granules and combine thoroughly. Set meat mixture aside.
- In a medium-sized bowl, prepare the glaze: combine the ketchup, brown sugar, lemon juice, mustard powder, cumin, Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce and honey. Remove ¼ cup, and add to meat mixture. Mix meat mixture well.
- Place the meat mixture onto the center of a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. With your hands, mold the meatloaf into a long cylindrical shape, or a wide football shape. Be gentle and try not to squeeze the meat while forming. When shaped to your liking, generously sprinkle more kosher salt and Italian seasoning on outside of meatloaf.
- Insert a temperature probe at a 45 degree angle into the top of the meatloaf, but try not to touch the bottom of the tray with the probe, as this could give false readings. Set the probe for 125 degrees and slide baking sheet into oven.
- After the meatloaf has been cooking for about 15 minutes, open the oven and carefully slide the oven rack it sits upon partially out so you may work on the meatloaf. Brush half the glaze onto the meatloaf and return to the oven.
- When the thermometer alarm goes off, check the meatloaf. The original glaze should be firmer and a bit sticky. Brush the entire remaining bowl of glaze onto the meatloaf and return to the oven. Reset thermometer alarm for 155 degrees.
- When the internal temperature reaches 155, immediately turn oven off, and set to HIGH BROIL. Set timer for 5 minutes. When time is up, immediately remove meatloaf from oven. The glaze should be bubbling, which means it is adhering itself to the meatloaf. WATCH CLOSELY OR IT WILL BURN!
- Allow to cool for at least ten minutes before serving.
Slice, and Enjoy
Give it a try. I truly feel this will be at least one of the best servings of meatloaf you’ve ever had. Try giving it your own, creative spin. Remember – the operative word in the Creative Kitchen is creative!