Meatloaf is a staple in our house. We always have the ingredients lying around: I keep ground beef in the fridge to make quick dinners like pasta or tacos; there’s a big bowl of onions in our pantry, our chickens lay plenty of eggs, and I grow herbs in my garden. On Sundays, when I’m planning for the week ahead, I’ll often make meatloaf, because I know the kids will be happy to eat it for dinner, and we can use the leftovers for days—Austin especially likes it for sandwiches.
When I was growing up though, I did not like meatloaf. In fact, I used to tell my mom that I hated it. Looking back, I blame the ketchup. Most meatloaf recipes call for a lot of ketchup—both in the mix and on the top of the loaf—and I’ve never really liked the way it tastes. (Why? I couldn’t really tell you. It’s just one of those childhood things that has stuck with me over the years.)
But once I started selling beef (and developing recipes at home so that I could tell my customers how to use our meat), I revisited the idea of meatloaf. I realized that all I had to do to adapt it to my taste was to swap the ketchup for something with a richer, deeper tomato flavor, like a pizza sauce or fire-roasted canned tomatoes. I also started cooking the onions before mixing them with the meat; the heat softens and mellows the flavor, and the cooked onions give the whole dish a warm, slightly sweeter flavor.
(Makes 1 loaf)
Total time: 15 minutes
Active time: 2 hours
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ cup chopped parsley
- 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
- 2 lbs ground beef
- 3 eggs
- 1 cup bread crumbs
- 1 cup tomato sauce or diced, canned tomatoes (drained)
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 350.°
Heat the olive oil in a heavy pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic, and sauté until the onion is just beginning to become translucent and golden, about 10 minutes. Add the parsley and 1 teaspoon of salt, and keep cooking until parsley has wilted and mixed with the other ingredients, 1–2 minutes more.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the beef, eggs, bread crumbs, tomatoes, thyme, and the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt. Add the cooked onion mixture, and mix everything together with your hands.
Transfer the mixture into a 9”x5” loaf pan and press it in gently so it will hold its shape. Form the top into a mound. Bake until the meatloaf is slightly browned on top and the inside has reached 160°, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Let the meatloaf cool for about 15 minutes, then cut slices directly from the pan and serve.
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Photos by Elizabeth Poett