But here's the thing; meatloaf is kinda tricky. I mean, not that it's super hard to make or anything (it is just a log of meat, after all), it's just that I tried making meatloaf for years and years before I settled on a recipe that was just right. And oh, how right it is. And, AND! you're in luck, because I'm a-gonna spare you those years and years of wandering the desert like some sort of traveling Wilbury and share with you my perfect, perfect meatloaf recipe.
First up, pour yourself a glass of wine. Like so:
Then, get your shit together. And that shit is:
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- ¾ cup finely diced onion (about half a medium onion)
- ½ cup finely diced green pepper (about half a small pepper)
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 pound ground meat of your choice
- 2 slices sandwich bread
- ⅔ cup barbecue sauce
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- big pinch of cayenne powder
- 1 egg
(Quick aside: I normally make this in all of its full-sized glory so's to have lots of leftovers for sammiches and stuff, but this time I only made a half batch, which is what you see here. For your full-sized loaf just double the recipe and follow the additional notes I'll try to remember to include below.)
Step The First (after the wine and the getting your shit together and whatnot): Preheat your oven to 350 F.
Now, here's your veg:
Heat up the olive oil in a medium skillet until it gets all shimmery, then throw in the onion/green pepper portion of your veg with a pinch of salt and pepper like so:
Saute that for a few minutes until your veg is soft and the onions have turned translucent like so:
Add in the garlic and stir that up for about 30 seconds, and then pull your pan off the heat while we talk a little bit about MEAT. (I don't know why I wrote MEAT like that; just seemed like the appropriate thing to do.) MEAT.
You can use any combination of ground meat you want for this really, just be aware that turkey and chicken will end up a lot drier than beef or pork. When I make a big meat log I usually use a pound of ground turkey and a pound of ground beef, but this time I found this magical package in the grocery store:
(And I also know that we could have a friggin' year-long conversation about the evils of the ground meat industry, so by all means, grind your own meat. I don't have a meat grinder because no one bought one for us off our gift registry so I guess we'll just take our chances since we haven't died so far as far as I can tell. I mean, who knows, I could be writing this from beyond the grave OMG AM I A GHOST? WTF.)
While we're talking, we might as well talk about barbecue sauce too. Now, I know I could make my own barbecue sauce from scratch--and you're welcome to do just that--but why would anyone do such a thing when this is in the world?
(Seriously guys, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que is so fucking good.)
Where were we? MEATLOAF. RIGHT.
So those slices of bread.
Those are the ones. Take them to the kitchen faucet and soak them down with water, the squeeze that water back out like you were squeezing a sponge.
Yeah, like that. Now chop your bread spit-ball up into little pieces like so:
And with that, we're ready to start assembling (initially I typed "assumbling" which sounds like a whole lot more fun whatever that is). Get a big bowl, and dump your meat in it. Then, dump in your sauteed vegetables.
Then, get your hands in there and mix everything together. And this is where it really helps that you've gotten your shit together in advance, because after you add each of the next ingredients, you're going to have to mix everything together with your hands. With your shit together in advance, you won't have to keep washing your hands. Without your shit together in advance, you cover your kitchen in meat goo. I think the choice is clear.
So. Add the chopped up bread mush and mix.
Add most of the barbecue sauce and mix.
Add the spices and mix.
Add the egg and mix.
Everything should be all mixed up uniformly now, which will give us the perfect opportunity to talk about pans.
Here are the two pans I own:
The one on the left is your standard 9 ½ x 5 ½-inch loaf pan, and is the one you should be using if you're making a full-sized loaf. Your meatloaf should completely fill this pan. The one on the right is some other weirdo pan that came with the set that's shallower and wider than a standard loaf pan, and it's what I'm using here. But since it's shallower, I didn't smoosh the meat all the way out to the sides; instead, I kept it tall and proud and loaf-like when I shaped it in the pan. Oh! Because that's the next step in the recipe: pressing your meatloaf mixture into the pan, and topping that off with your remaining barbecue sauce.
Then, pop that baby (but not your actual baby) into the oven and bake for 45 minutes (an hour and a half for the full-sized loaf).
When it's done, take it back out of the oven and let it sit for about 20 minutes, if you can wait that long.
Because believe me, the smells that will start filling your house are liable to make you want to chew your own arm off. I'm drooling just thinking about it. Oh man.
ANYWHO. When you're ready to serve, just pour off any fat that may have accumulated in the pan and slice the loaf into thick slabs of meaty goodness. Serve with more barbecue sauce, or ketchup, or A-1 (my condiment of choice), or whatever it is you like or nothing at all because have I mentioned this before? This is SO GOOD.
(And yes, those are my cheese grits. ALSO GOOD.)