It’s the rare American who is not passionate, in one way or another, about meatloaf. The pro-meatloaf contingency may speak fondly of meatloaf “every night when we were first starting out”, or stuffed with this or that or smothered in this or that or “the best part is the sandwiches”. Conversely, the anti-meatloaf camp will probably drone on about meatloaf “every night when we were first starting out”, or stuffed with this or that or smothered in this or that or “the best part is the sandwiches”. While the reasons to either love or hate the lowly loaf are many, and so very similar, I believe that most haters have just been exposed to too many bad attempts.
Cooking with ground meats can be tricky. Improperly handled, they can be bland, dry and, most unhappily, tough. A less expensive meat is no bargain if it can’t produce a good meal! But when treated correctly, ground meats have yielded some of the greatest contributions to the culinary world.
The three meats in this recipe each contribute to the taste and texture of the finished meatloaf. Treating them gently insures that each fulfills its purpose. Ground meats have a relatively short time, while cooking, to absorb the flavors around them. This is why I use fresh herbs that don’t need to relax into a hot bath before they go to work, like their dried cousins. The onions and celery are likewise given a workout – at least I make them sweat before they meet the meat. Using Half & Half does increase the fat content of this meatloaf, but aside from assisting in binding, it imparts a richer taste than possible with lower or non-fat milks. Speaking of binding, I use Panko here for its characteristic lightness and so keep the meatloaf more tender than including normal breadcrumbs would.
I’m going to let this one stand on its own – there’s nothing but meatloaf stuffed inside this meatloaf and there’s no ketchup or chili sauce glaze smothering the taste. There is however, a sauce made with the same herbs that are in the meatloaf.
Give this one a try, if you’re a meatloaf lover, this may become your new go to recipe. If you are from the other side, this just may be the one to win you over. And the
sandwiches are amazing!
Mom’s Meatloaf (was never like this!)
Servings: 4 to 6 Preparation Time: 30 Minutes Cooking Time: 45 Minutes
• Olive Oil
• 1 Large Sweet Onion, cut in small dice
• 2 Ribs Celery, cut in small dice
• ⅔ Pound Ground Veal
• ⅔ Pound Ground Pork
• ⅔ Pound Ground Beef
• 2 Teaspoons Fresh Chives, chopped + 1 Teaspoon, chopped
• 2 Teaspoons Fresh Parsley, chopped + 1 Teaspoon, chopped
• ½ Teaspoon Fresh Thyme, chopped + ½ Teaspoon, chopped
• 1 Cup Panko, ground (pulse 5 or 6 times in a food processor)
• 2 Large Eggs
• ½ Cup Half & Half
• 3 Teaspoons Kosher Salt
• 2 Teaspoons Freshly Ground Black Pepper
• 2 Heads Roasted Garlic, about 20 cloves (recipe in Tips and Trending)
• 1½ Cups Low Sodium Beef Stock
• 3 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter
Step 1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF
Step 2. Bring a medium sauté pan to medium-high heat and add just enough Olive Oil to coat the bottom. Add the Onion and Celery and cook, constantly stirring, until wilted but not browned. Transfer the vegetables to a medium bowl to cool.
Step 3. Using your hands only, break apart the three ground meats as you put them into a large bowl. Add 2 teaspoons of the Chives, 2 teaspoons of the Parsley, ½ teaspoon of the Thyme and the ground Panko to the meat without mixing.
Step 4. When the Onions and Celery have cooled, add the Eggs, Half & Half, Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper and stir to combine. Mash 10 cloves of the Roasted Garlic and add to the Onion mixture.
Step 5. Pour the Onion mixture over the ground meats and herbs. Use a rubber spatula to make sure you get all of the moistened ingredients out of the bowl and onto the meats. Using your hands, blend the ingredients just until well combined and everything is evenly distributed.
Step 6. Line a large baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper. Put the meat mixture on the mat or paper and compress it to make sure there are no pockets of air. Shape into a 2“ high and 5” wide loaf, keeping the sides straight instead of the typical mounded free form loaf.
Step 7. Put the Meatloaf in the oven and bake until a thermometer reads an internal temperature of 155º, about 45 to 50 minutes. Remove the Meatloaf from the oven and let it rest for 10 minutes.
Step 8. While the Meatloaf is baking, mash the remaining 10 cloves of Roasted Garlic. Bring the Beef Stock, mashed Garlic and the Unsalted Butter to a boil for 2 minutes in a small sauce pan over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Add 1 teaspoon each of the Chives and Parsley and ½ teaspoon of the Thyme. Stir until blended, cover and remove from heat and let steep for 10 minutes. Strain out the solids and return the sauce to the pan to keep warm.
After the Meatloaf has rested for at least 10 minutes, slice and serve with some of the sauce drizzled over the top.
Tips and Trending
~ Whenever you are adding fat to a pan, unless instructed otherwise, allow the pan to heat for at least 2 or 3 minutes before adding the fat. You can then add the ingredients and almost immediately begin the cooking process.
~ Handle ground meats as little as possible. The more you mash them around, the tougher the results. This is why it is always best to use your hands, instead of utensils, to feel when the meat and other ingredients are combined.
~ If you prefer a thicker sauce, mix 1 tablespoon of corn starch with ¼ cup of cold water. Bring the strained stock to a boil and slowly whisk in the corn starch mixture. Boil for 1 additional minute. You may not have to use all of the corn starch mixture to attain the desired thickness.
~ You should always have roasted garlic on hand. It will never have the chance to go bad simply because it will never be around long enough. To roast a whole head of garlic (it’s not worth doing any less that one head), preheat the oven to 400ºF. Peel away all of the papery skin from the outside of the whole head. Don’t remove any of the skins from the individual cloves. Cut the barest minimum off the top of the entire head, exposing the meat of the individual cloves and drizzle with 2 teaspoons of olive oil, making sure the oil gets all over and between the cloves. If you are preparing several heads at one time, put the oiled heads, cut side up in a muffin pan. If you’re only making one head, use a small ramekin. Cover each head loosely with aluminum foil, tucking the foil around the head inside the muffin cup or ramekin. Roast for 30 minutes until the garlic is soft. Cool and use with wild abandon!
~ If you are using a silicon mat on the baking sheet, transfer the meatloaf to a cutting board before slicing to avoid damaging the mat.