We seem to have a love it or hate it relationship with meatloaf. My Grandmother made a fabulous meatloaf. I remember her soaking breadcrumbs in half and half before mixing the meat, eggs and spices together, then covering the top with a sweetened tomato-based sauce. My Mom also made wonderful meatloaf. And anytime Mom made meatloaf, she would always make two, sending one home for Emily and I to dine on later. With the influence of my history with meatloaf, I’ve always been in the “love it” camp.
I understand why some are in the “hate it” camp. I’ve tasted meatloaf that was simply that, a loaf of meat. Two fundamental mistakes with meatloaf, no seasoning and using the wrong type of meat. Meatloaf needs seasoning and spices. Plus using more than one type of meat brings a tenderness and flavor you can’t get using just ground beef.
For starters, you need to remember we’re not making hamburgers. You want lean meat, not the 80/20 (80 percent lean to 20 percent fat content) you find with ground chuck but instead choose a ground sirloin, which is typically 90-92 percent lean. Adding ground lamb, veal or pork brings the depth of flavor. I use three types of meat. You can substitute the lamb, veal or pork with ground turkey or ground chicken, but don’t use both ground turkey and chicken, it will make the meatloaf too dry and do little for the flavor.
Then instead of ketchup or tomato sauce I use Heinz chili sauce. Herbs, seasoning and spices bring out the best of these meats. Wrapping the seasoned tomato-based sauce into the meat deepens those layers and keeps the meatloaf from being dry.
This recipe makes two; I usually cook one and freeze one for later. This is comfort food at its finest. Thanks Mom.
2 bottles chili sauce, 12 ounces each
½ cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon dry mustard
½ teaspoon ground allspice
3 extra large eggs
2/3 cup half and half
1-1/2 cups bread crumbs
½ cup finely chopped onion
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon dried sage
½ teaspoon lemon pepper
1 pound ground sirloin
1 pound ground lamb
1 pound ground veal or pork
In a small bowl combine the chili sauce, the brown sugar, dry mustard and ground allspice. Stir well making certain the brown sugar and spices are mixed together evenly.
In a large bowl add the eggs, the half and half, the bread crumbs, chopped onions, parsley, kosher salt, black pepper, dried sage, lemon pepper, and 2 cups of the tomato-based sauce. Mix well.
Add the ground meat. Using a large spoon (or your hands!) gently mix together.
Handle the meat gently to keep it from becoming tough. Blend together until the mixture is well combined.
Divide the meatloaf mixture between two loaf pans that have been sprayed with a cooking spray.
Smooth the tops and spread the remaining tomato-based sauce over the tops.
Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour or until the meat is cooked through.
Let the meatloaf rest for about 10 minutes before serving.
Note: If you freeze one before cooking, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, then in foil. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight before baking. Add an extra 15 minutes cooking time.