Saturday, March 22, 2014

Best Meatloaf ~ A Classic American Dinner

Over the years I've modified my meatloaf recipe in an attempt to make it more moist and tender. Most meatloaf is dense, dry and tough, especially when re-heated. This recipe, which takes into account the techniques of America's Test Kitchen, Martha Stewart and Julia Child, makes a delicious dinner for which you can be proud and that your family will love and request time and again.

Julian's "Best Meatlof" with mashed potatoes and green beans.
A classic American dinner.
So what keeps it moist and tender? The sauteed vegetable mixture. Do use the mushrooms, as no one will realize they are there as they do their part to keep the texture correct but are not so many as to impart a mushroom flavor. I always use them unless someone has an allergy to them. You'll note the mixture is very soft when you form it into the classic loaf. It is for this reason I cover the rack with foil, which provides for structural support and keeps it up out of any pan drippings.

One word of caution. People are quite particular about the meatloaf topping. Some prefer none at all, others the classic red ketchup. Here I prepared a barbecue topping. Delicious! Most however, prefer what their mother used to make. Give them what they expect and they will be happy. Below I give you my favorite version of the ketchup topping, which seems most common and is better than just spreading plain ketchup over the top.

Ingredients (8 Servings)

1/2 cup colby, jack or cheddar cheese, grated (about 1 cup)
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 celery rib, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
4-6 large white mushrooms, finely chopped
2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3/4 cup chicken broth
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1 tablespoon A1 or soy sauce
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons dried parsley
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1 1/2 pounds lean ground pork
26 saltine crackers, crushed

Classic Glaze
1/2 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
1/4 cup cider vinegar
3 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed

Julian's Moist Tender Meatloaf
Preheat oven to 375F degrees and place oven rack in center of oven.

Prepare your cooking pan by placing a cooling or roasting rack over a baking pan with sides, then cover with aluminum foil; poke small holes for drainage and spray with cooking spray. Chop all your vegetables, ideally to a fine dice using a food processor for speed and consistency. Set aside.

Any size/shape rack will work, big enough for your meatloaf.
Place the grated cheese on a plate and place in the freezer until ready to use. Heat a skillet over medium high heat, add butter and olive oil. Heat until foam forms and add finely chopped onions and celery. Cook, stirring regularly, until they begin to caramelize slightly, about 6-8 minutes.

Add in chopped mushrooms, garlic, thyme, basil, oregano and paprika. Stir in and cook 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and stir in tomato paste. Cook 2-3 minutes and transfer to a small bowl and let cool.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs and broth; sprinkle with the gelatin and let sit 5 minutes. Do not stir. Then stir in A1 or soy sauce, mustard, saltines, parsley, salt, pepper, and the onion/mushroom mixture. Sprinkle in the frozen cheese, breaking up any larger chunks that may have formed during freezing. Add ground beef/pork and mix with hands until well combined.

Transfer meat mixture to prepared foil lined pan and form into a loaf about 2-3 inches high. See photo.  While the meatloaf bakes, combine glaze ingredients in a small saucepan, bring to a simmer. Stir until syrupy, about 5 minutes. Bake meatloaf to an internal temperature of 140-150F degrees, about 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes. Remove meatloaf from oven and set oven to broil.

Spread half the glaze over the meatloaf and broil until bubbly and beginning to brown at the edges; repeat with remaining glaze.  Let sit 20 minutes before slicing.

Baked and ready for glazing.

No comments:

Post a Comment