Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Jessica's Meatloaf

Meatloaf is a great dish to pop into the oven when you don't want to spend the evening in the kitchen.  This recipe started out my mom's from when I was little and I added some personal touches to make it my own.   Pair this with some mashed potatoes and green beans for a plate of ultimate comfort food. 

Jessica's Meatloaf with fennel and parsley

When I was old enough to be able to help in the kitchen, Mom let me tear the bread into little pieces, which I thought was the greatest thing ever.  I especially like rye, either dark or Jewish, they lend an extra oomph of flavor.  Any other bread can work in a pinch.  The only kind I don't recommend is the bread with whole seeds or nuts, as those can throw off the meatloaf texture.  If you are short on the ground beef, add an extra slice of bread to make up some volume.

As I got older - and less likely to put things in my mouth - I was the designated mixer of the ground beef.  This is still my favorite part of the recipe.  I love the squishing of all the different textures, and the way the ingredients get my hands cold so I take a couple breaks to wash my hands in hot water before going back to the mixing.  Longer mixing makes a better meatloaf.  A note about the spices, I rarely measure these and do it a little differently each time, the recipe is very forgiving.

I use a broiler pan instead of a loaf pan so the loaf doesn't sit in a pool of fat while it cooks; the fat drains off to the underneath section and the meatloaf is much healthier.  As a bonus, there is now more surface area to cover in ketchup, which I'm pretty sure is my husband's favorite part. 

Jessica's Meatloaf
Makes one loaf

1 1/2 to 2 lbs ground beef
2 slices rye bread, broken into very small pieces
1/3 cup ketchup + 1 cup ketchup (separated)
3 Tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 egg
1 tsp fennel seeds
3 Tbsp dried parsley
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder

Broiler pan (like this one, see link)

1.  Preheat oven to 350.

2.  Mix all ingredients except 1 cup ketchup in a large bowl, by hand.  Mixing extra well and making sure to really squish the ground beef gives the results a nice consistent texture.  If your hands get too cold, wash them in hot water then continue mixing.

3.  Form the mixture into a loaf shape in the center of a broiler pan. Spread the remaining ketchup over the entire surface - you may need more depending on how your loaf is shaped. If desired, sprinkle garnishments over the ketchup (parsley, fennel seeds, etc).

4.  Bake at 350 for 60-70 minutes or until no longer pink in the center.  Use a very large spatula to transfer to a serving plate. 

Note - If you double the recipe, both can be cooked on the same broiler pan.  Add an extra egg (three for two loaves) and 15 minutes of cooking time.

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