Making Friends With Meatloaf

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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.

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  1. Erik Kuszynski says

    I saw Meatloaf (singer) in his 1995 Bat out of Hell II tour. One of the BEST concerts I’ve been to.
    The best meatloaf (food) I ever had was made with ground tenderloin and about three tons of roasted garlic. Not exactly practical for the every day table.

  2. says

    Hmmm I think I will have to try your version. My youngest does the same thing as your husband. NO not the wedgie, the requesting meatloaf everytime I ask what they want for diner. One thing I love on my meatloaf instead of ketchup is Maulls Kansas City style bbq sauce. Yum.

  3. says

    I love me some meatloaf. And I love that every family has their own special way to make it. Ben has been asking for meatloaf for a while now too, might just have to break down and do it.

  4. says

    I definitely bookmarked this recipe. I hated meatloaf as a pup but now I definitely crave it. And this looks like the type of flavor-combo that would be a success on our table. Thank you for suggesting different glaze options. I, on behalf of the rest of the group, would like to check Yes: All of the Above!

  5. ladylisabear69 says

    My husband loves my meatloaf, which is my mother’s recipe. But I like the idea of oatmeal instead of torn up bread. I do use whole wheat bread which is better than white or breadcrumbs, but the oatmeal is intriguing. I use tomato sauce instead of ketchup both in and on. Thanks for the new idea.

  6. says

    Love this post. I read it a couple of days ago in between my kids’ mini-dramas (they’re always spaced just far enough apart to get in the way of any productivity on my part). I didn’t have time to comment then, but yesterday, I kept thinking about a couple of your funny comments, and your picture of Meatloaf (the Celebrity, not your homemade meatloaf which looked about as good as meatloaf can possibly look, I think), and laughing aloud at your humor.

  7. Hubby says

    Really, what’s not to like about meatloaf–the meal? It’s meat….in a loaf. ‘Nuff said… :)

    (Weird…love the dish, absolutely loathe the singer, his act and drunk people who sloppily karaoke “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” song…)

    Next marital sacrifice: Salisbury steak–like the kind in foil pan TV dinners. It’s a misunderstood delicacy.

    PS I have never given my lovely bride a wedgie…

  8. Katie says

    My mother used to put a small amount of cheese in the center of the loaf before cooking it. It makes it amazing, you should try it. Also it can be any cheese of your preference, preferably one that melts easily.


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