I had some leftover hot dog buns and and one nice sandwich roll, so I pulsed them in the food processor to put in the freezer, but took two cups out first for meatloaf. I find fresh bread crumbs to have a much nicer effect than dried crumbs in meatloaf. They’re moister and softer and carry those characteristics into the finished loaf.
I’m kind of surprised, though, that there are so many recipes for meatloaf on the web, because it’s such a simple, basic concept that you personalize with practically no bad results. Ground meat, bread crumbs, eggs, milk, seasonings. You can do that in your head and figure out your own proportions, even though I’ll give you mine below. I don’t think my meatloaf is exactly the same each time, but I get no complaints.
Preheat oven to 350°
1.5 lb ground beef (I used 80% lean, which releases a lot of fat, but makes a moister loaf)
1 lb ground turkey (not ground turkey breast)
1 carrot, 1 celery rib, and 1 onion minced in a food processor
2 cups fresh bread crumbs
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup ketchup
1/4-1/2 cup milk
About the ingredients:
- So, this is a 2.5 lb loaf that will give us at least two meals, but you can vary the amounts and types of meat used. Typically recipes call for a combination of beef, veal, and pork, sometimes in thirds, sometimes with more beef. You usually don’t know the proportions in a meatloaf mix in the grocery store, but it’s nice to have it done for you and may be cheaper than buying the meats separately. Today, I used ground turkey, because I thought it would be a nice flavor addition, and I already had plenty of fat from the 80% lean beef. It was good.
- Seasoned, dried bread crumbs work well, also, but when I use dried bread crumbs, I usually use evaporated milk for the liquid.
- The ketchup and Worcestershire sauce is a nice combination of flavorings, a little sharp and tangy. I don’t put ketchup on top of the loaf, but you could. Other than salt and pepper, I didn’t add any herbs today, but sometimes I use thyme or oregano.
- I think my mother only used onion to season hers, but I do like adding more minced vegetables, again for moisture, as well as flavor.
- Mix everything in a large bowl so all the ingredients are well distributed, without overworking the mixture—you’re not making bread. I use a large meat fork to stir at first because the two tines cut through it all without over-mixing. Then I get in there with my hands kind of folding it over until I’m sure there isn’t some ingredient left in the bottom of the bowl.
- Bring it together and roll it all into your baking dish. I like a free-formed loaf in a large stoneware dish instead of in a loaf pan, but if you like softer, unbrowned sides, use the loaf pans.
- Bake at 350° for 1-1.5 hours. I did the full 1.5 hours to get it to an internal temperature of about 160° – 170° and let the dish rest on the stove, where it continues to cook a little more. I took it out before it reached 170° because nothing is worse than overcooked, dry meatloaf.