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Meatloaf and I have never been friends.  I never understood the appeal.  I mean what is a meatloaf if not a Glam-Rocker turned wanna-be Opera singer turned wanna-be Apprentice? That I can get behind. But a big mass of ground beef? Not so appealing.

Oh, if you know anything about me at all, you know that I am the totally kind of gal to make a Meatloaf-the-singer reference in correlation with meatloaf-the-loaf-of-meat post. Like totally.

Silliness aside, I’ve never been a fan of meatloaf–henceforth and heretofore referencing the loaf of meat, not the singer.  The meaty loafiness has never been very appealing. Hubby, on the other hand, is a huge fan of meatloaf.  Every time I write our menu and run short of ideas, I ask Hubby for dinner suggestions. And every time I ask, he replies:

How about meatloaf?

Every. Single. Time.

Sometimes I ask Hubby questions knowing what his answer will be, just so that I can giggle when he answers.  I ask. He answers. I giggle.  Then he chases me around the house and gives me a wedgie.  We’re real mature that way.

So one night when I asked Hubby what he wanted for dinner, he replied meatloaf, I laughed, and he gave me a wedgie. Then I asked him why he always wants meatloaf.  His answer was simple:

Because you never make it. And it’s good. 

Oh. Oops.  Clearly it was time to make friends with meatloaf.

In order to come up with a meatloaf recipe that I liked, I first had to deconstruct what it was that I didn’t like about it. From my meatloaf exposure, I knew that : it is mushy, it has huge chunks of nearly raw onion in it, it has a ton of sloppy ketchup on top.  Yuck. Yuck. And oh, wait…yuck.

Thus began my quest for a meatloaf that Hubby loved, and I found palatable.  I likened the task to a marital sacrifice.

It took awhile, but eventually I came up with a meatloaf that I not only tolerated, but eventually began to crave. Me. Craving meatloaf! Who knew?!

The resulting meatloaf is different than most–it is moist without being mushy, with a slight sweetness that appeals to me.  My family loves it. I hope that you try it, and that you love it too.

You’ll need: ground beef, olive oil, onion, garlic, tomato ketchup, brown sugar, ground ginger, ground cinnamon, salt, ground black pepper, 2 egg whites, rolled oats, and fresh parsley.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (F). Line a broiler pan with aluminum foil, or spray it with cooking spray; set aside. Then slice the onion in half–root to tip.

Peel back the onion skin. Make a series of small cuts across the grain of the onion, being careful to not cut through the root.

Cut onion into a small dice by making cuts along the grain, and perpendicular to the first cuts.

Pour a few teaspoons of olive oil into a skillet, and heat it over medium heat.

Saute the onions over medium heat until they soften and become translucent.

Toss in a little salt and pepper.

Stir in some minced garlic and continue to saute until onions have caramelized and garlic has slightly browned.  Set aside.

Pour the ketchup into a medium bowl. The ketchup will help make the meat more malleable.  There’s something I never thought I would say.

Separate the eggs, and add the egg whites to the bowl.  The egg whites will bind the whole she-bang together so that the meatloaf doesn’t end up being crumbled beef instead.

Dump in the oats, to retain moisture while cooking,

the brown sugar for sweetness,

and the cinnamon, and ginger for a hint of spice. Don’t worry, the savory seasonings in the caramelized onions will balance out the sweet imparted here.

Stir the mixture together with a fork until well combined.  Try really hard not to think about what it looks like–it’ll be fine!

Stir the caramelized onions and garlic into the mixture. They don’t want to be left out of the party.

Pour the mixture over the ground beef. Squeeze and knead and knead and squeeze with your hands until everything is fully incorporated and happy. Try not to think about how it feels in your hands. That’s what I do.

Dump the meat onto the prepared pan, and form it into a loaf, approximately 9 x 4 x 1.5 inches.

Now because I have four sons that consider ketchup to be their meat condiment of choice, (much to my dismay,) I drizzle a few additional teaspoons of ketchup on top of the meatloaf.

Spread it around with a basting brush. The purpose of the “sauce” on top of the loaf is to seal moisture into it, while caramelizing a bit during the cooking process. If I didn’t live with four ketchup hounds, I would probably substitute a steak or barbecue sauce instead.

Bake at 350 for about an hour, or until meatloaf is done. If you’re like me, you’ll get all caught up in your boy’s compound fraction homework and forget to set the timer. Then, you’ll cook the meatloaf for an extra ten minutes or so until it cracks. Don’t be like me.

Let the loaf stand for 10 minutes before slicing, then serve it up with your favorite sides.  Then, you too, can make friends with meatloaf.

Friendly Meatloaf


Serves 6

2 lbs. ground beef (chuck)

2-3 tsp. olive oil

¼ C. onion, minced

1 clove garlic, peeled and minced

½ C. ketchup

1 Tbs. packed brown sugar

¼ tsp. ground ginger

¼ tsp. ground cinnamon

¼ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. ground black pepper

2 egg whites

½ C. rolled oats

2 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley

About 2 Tbs. additional ketchup (or BBQ or steak sauce) for drizzling over meatloaf

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 (F) degrees. Spray a broiler pan with cooking spray; set aside.
  2. Place the ground beef into a large bowl, and set aside.
  3. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat until hot.  Sautee onions in oil until beginning to soften, then add garlic and continue sautéing for one more minute.  Remove from heat; set aside.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk ketchup, brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon, salt, pepper, egg whites, oats, and parsley together until well combined.
  5. Stir the sautéed onions and garlic into ketchup mixture.
  6. Pour ketchup mixture over ground beef. Knead with your hands until mixture is fully incorporated into the meat.
  7. Shape meat mixture into a 9 x 4 x 1 ½  inch loaf on the prepared broiler pan.
  8. Drizzle about 2 Tbs. of ketchup over top of meatloaf, brushing with a basting brush to evenly coat.
  9. Bake at 350 degrees (F) for 1 hour, or until done.
  10. Skim any fat surrounding the loaf, and let stand for 10 minutes before slicing.