Meatloaf is easy to make – but it’s also easy to make wrong. I’ve had dry and tasteless meatloaf, and I’ve had it where each slice is heavy and brimming with grease. Neither were worth eating! But there are a few things you can do to make sure your meatloaf is perfect every time – and well worth making on a cold Friday night at home with a fire in the fireplace and a movie to watch.
Sauté your vegetables first, and use plenty of them. I like them when they are soft and caramelized. Also, I use oats instead of breadcrumbs to absorb and retain more of the ground beef’s natural juices. And it’s really all about the ketchup, isn’t it? I admit, I don’t normally eat ketchup, but I haven’t found another condiment that adds the moistness and the zing that good ol’ ketchup does.
Finally, to top it all off, strips of bacon on top bastes the loaf as it cooks while adding more flavor in the meantime. If you’re worried about the fat weighing things down, I use a rack instead of a loaf pan so excess grease can drip away.
2 Tbs unsalted butter
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 large rib celery, finely chopped
2 large eggs
2 lbs lean ground beef
2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 cup rolled oats, not instant
1/2 cup ketchup, divided
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp black pepper
3 strips bacon
Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat for several minutes. When hot, add butter, onions, green pepper and celery. Cook until vegetables are slightly brown, about 5 minutes. Lower heat and cook 15 minutes more. Transfer to a plate to cool.
Preheat oven to 350˚ F. Spray a standard-sized loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray. Whisk eggs into a large bowl. Add sautéed vegetables, ground beef, thyme, oats, 1/4 cup ketchup, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly and press into the prepared loaf pan, pounding the pan a few times to make sure all air pockets are removed.
Spray a roasting rack with nonstick cooking spray. Set it on a rimmed baking sheet. Turn meatloaf onto the rack, patting back into shape if any of it sticks. Spread the top with remaining 1/4 cup ketchup and arrange bacon slices lengthwise over ketchup.
Bake for 1 hour. Remove from oven and let rest 10 minutes. Slice and serve.
Nutritional Information: Per Serving: Calories: 438, Fat: 19 g, Sodium: 1370 mg, Carbohydrates: 11 g, Protein: 53 g.