Meatloaf is one of those recipes that most people connect with from childhood. It's a grandma's house kind of meal -- filling and flavorful yet relatively inexpensive to feed a crowd. Yum! The only downside is, if it's not properly prepared, meatloaf can be dry, crumbly, and flavorless. I'm here to show you how to make perfect meatloaf every time!
First things first, start with great ingredients. The best ground meats you can afford, or one better, do the grinding yourself. If you're a busy mom like me (I literally forget which day it is on a regular basis) then grinding beef isn't realistically in the cards. Now worries, I've got you covered. I like combining beef with different fat contents because of the variation in texture and subtle taste differences. Ground pork or veal are also great additions.
The trick to keeping meatloaf light is not over-mixing it. Fold gently with your fingertips instead and mixing with a spoon for the best texture.
Finally, don't be too fussy with the herbs and spices. If you don't have thyme on hand, substitute with fresh oregano or another favorite fresh herb. Or, substitute with dried seasonings if that works better in your budget. Swap smoked paprika for Hungarian paprika or add cumin, if you prefer. Have fun mixing things up!
Watch the video to make this recipe with me on Vermilion Lane YouTube channel.
Savory Meatloaf - Recipe by Drea/Vermilion Lane Blog
(Makes one loaf and one dozen meatballs or two meatloaves)
3 lbs. ground beef (1 lb. each: 80/10, 85/15, 90/10 or ground meat(s) of your choice)
1/2 c. panko bread crumbs
1/2 c. heavy cream
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce (divided in half)
1 large carrot, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, including leaves, finely chopped
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped
1 tbs. fresh parsley, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
3/4 c. ketchup (1 tablespoon reserved)
Freshly ground black pepper
Chopped parsley, for serving
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a small bowl, combine cream, breadcrumbs, and eggs.
Stir until all breadcrumbs are wet then add a pinch of freshly ground pepper and salt
Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat.
Add the onions, carrots, celery.
Season with a dash of salt and pepper, paprika, cinnamon, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are softened.
Turn off the heat and stir in 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste, garlic and chopped fresh herbs. Place in medium-sized bowl to cool while you make the meat mixture.
Mix vegetable mixture with ground beef, breadcrumb mixture, and 1 tablespoon ketchup in a large bowl into well combined. Press into a loaf pan or shape into a loaf on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. With meatloaf leftover mixture, shape and freeze approximately 1 dozen meatballs for another meal or make a second loaf.
Whisk together remaining ketchup and 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce.
Spread ketchup mixture over meatloaf.
Bake for 65 - 75 minutes until the middle of the loaf reaches 155 degrees Fahrenheit.
Garnish with chopped fresh parsley. Let cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.
For meatballs: Shape meat into one tablespoon size balls. Freeze on a sheet tray. Then remove from freezer and place frozen meatballs into a gallon-size freezer bag.
Store up to 3 months in freezer. Bake from frozen at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until fully cooked through. Serve with pasta sauce for delicious spaghetti and meatballs or make meatball subs on a busy weeknight.