It’s never excited me much, either and I certainly wouldn’t think to order it at a restaurant. But the husband’s obsessed with meatloaf – the old school, tangy version – so I’ve been on a quest to find the perfect recipe. It was all trial and error until my good friend Caroline stepped in and totally showed me up with this little number. I don’t think I’ll ever hear the end of it. She’s a really, really good cook.
This particular meatloaf is, in all honesty, beyond words. It’s hearty and moist and rich and generally everything meatloaf never, ever is. It’s won over too many non-meatloaf-eating converts to count and I generally regard it as one of my most prized recipes. I’m reluctant to put it out there for fear the hubs will trade me in for a younger, wittier, just-as-good-at-making-meatloaf model. But I’ll risk it. You need this recipe.
Serve your meatloaf with mashed potatoes, obviously, and extra sauce. And don’t stress about the molasses – you can get it at most grocery stores or, if you’re like me, from a Slingblade lookalike on I-85 during your next road trip. He’ll probably sell fireworks too, so bring cash and stock up.
CAROLINE’S LIFE-CHANGING MEATLOAF
2 lb. ground beef (I usually use half 80/20, half 93/7 percentage beef)
1.5 cups breadcrumbs (put in a measuring cup so you can save the extra)
2 tbsp. chopped parsley and/or basil
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground pepper
1/2 sweet onion, chopped very small
3 cloves garlic, minced very small
3 slices bacon, cut in half
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup brown sugar
1. Spray a large casserole dish with cooking spray and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl put the ground beef, eggs, herbs, salt, pepper, garlic, and onion. Sprinkle over about half the breadcrumbs then mix everything together thoroughly with your hands. When combined, add in more breadcrumbs bit by bit until the meat sticks together but isn’t dry. You will probably use between 1 and 1.5 cups total. Place the loaf in the casserole pan and shape it like a football – don’t let the meat touch the edges. It should be about 3 inches tall in the middle.
2. Wash your hands thoroughly then whisk the ketchup, molasses, and brown sugar together in a bowl. Divide the sauce in half and reserve one portion to serve with the meatloaf. Using a brush, coat the meatloaf with a thick layer of sauce, reserving some for a second coat. Top the meatloaf with the bacon then cover the casserole dish with tin foil.
3. Cook in the preheated oven for about 40 minutes. Remove the foil then use the basting brush to add a second layer of sauce on top of the bacon strips. Bake uncovered about 3o minutes more or until a meat thermometer (which is a really, really good purchase!) reads 150 degrees in the center of the loaf. Let the meatloaf rest at least 10 minutes before you slice it then serve with the extra sauce.
***Note: Meatloaf isn’t healthy. It’s a loaf. Of meat. Don’t try to substitute turkey or leave out the molasses or anything nonsensical like that. Make this recipe as is, don’t make it often, and enjoy it. Serve with a green vegetable if that puts your mind at ease. Think of it as a splurge like you would a double chocolate cake. A big, meaty cake.