There must be hundreds, if not thousands, of meatloaf recipes out there. If you already have a favorite, then you can skip this post. But if that great, easy, good-tasting recipe still eludes you, I may have your answer.
I call it The Best Bachelor Meatloaf. It’s quick and easy and has that great homemade taste we all love. One of this recipe’s best features is that it is simple. In addition to what you think a meatloaf should contain it gets a lot of flavor from green pepper, onion, and regular steak sauce. Right there you have a lot of options on taste. You can add garlic to the mix, and I think you should. There are many different steak sauces on the market. We’re talking about something like Heinz 57 or A-1, thick but pourable, not as sweet as ketchup but a lot more interesting. There are spicy versions or you can stick with the usual, more mild stuff. You could even mix up your own.
For the ground beef, I recommend sticking to as lean as you can afford. Regular ground beef, depending on the source, can be up to 35% fat. That will give you a much smaller meatloaf literally swimming in grease. It’s an easy formula: less fat going in less fat coming out. Some fat is always needed. I would not go more than 90% lean because fat adds both flavor and cohesion. An 80/20% mix is my favorite and the choice of most restaurants. It has enough fat to have a good flavor but not so much that makes a greasy dish.
While we’ve never tried it in the Bachelor’s Kitchen, we have heard that this recipe can be used with ground chicken or ground turkey if you want to cut even more fat. Just remember that some fat is good, just not very much.
Obviously, you will need a large mixing bowl, but no mixing spoon as your hands are always the best mixing utensil for meatloaf. Just be sure to wash your hands before, after, and during if you take your hands away for some reason. Ground meat is always the most likely to be contaminated, so always take extra care with the food safety rules.
A standard size loaf pan, 9.5 x 4.5 inches, is next. You can use one a little larger if that’s what you have. You could even use a brownie pan in a pinch, but that would give you a more free-form meatloaf. It may surprise you, but if the meat is not too fatty, the standard loaf pan works well, holding everything in without becoming overwhelmed. Just know that there will be shrinkage. You will want to have some cooking spray handy to coat the pan before you put the meatloaf in.
You also will need the usual assortment of measuring spoons and cups.
Whenever ground beef is on sale, I like to buy the large size and split it up for several different dishes. This meatloaf recipe is one I turn to often. It’s that good. And when I buy a large package of ground beef, I set aside about 1.5 pounds just to make this meatloaf. The other bit I weigh into smaller pieces, a little over a pound, for other recipes later on. Those will go into the freezer.
Building A Meatloaf
Preparation time is about 15 minutes. Start with adding a pound-and-a-half of ground beef to the bowl. Add 1-1/4 teaspoons of salt, an egg, a healthy grind or two of black pepper, and a cup of bread crumbs. The best bread crumbs come from cubes of day-old bread, mostly dry but still a bit soft. You can make bread crumbs like you would make croutons. Or you can do what I do which is use Panko bread crumbs. I do not like those canisters filled with what someone is calling bread crumbs, but it looks more like sawdust. There might be some applications where the use of that would be preferred, but I haven’t run across it yet.
Now to the bowl add half a cup of milk and three tablespoons of streak sauce, like A-1 or Heinz 57, something that has a little tang and a bit of sweetness. Chop a medium-to-small onion and add it to the bowl. Dice half a green bell pepper, about half of a cup, and throw it in. Also, now is the time to add any other spices or herbs that you like.
Wash your hands. Set the oven to pre-heat to 350F and grease a regular loaf pan. Using your clean hands, mix all the ingredients in the bowl thoroughly. Your hands really are the best tool for the job. Mix until all the ingredients appear to be evenly distributed throughout the mixture.
Transfer the mixture into the prepared loaf pan and shape it in a loaf. If you’re doing a free form meatloaf, be sure your meat rack and drip pan are lubricated with cooking spray. Then form your meatloaf and carefully transfer it to the meat rack. Brush the top with a third of a cup of steak sauce or a steak sauce/ketchup mixture. I like to sprinkle a little dried oregano on top. Into the oven it goes for about an hour or until the meatloaf reaches an internal temperature of 165℉.
Remove your meatloaf and let it rest in the pan for about five minutes for the juices to redistribute throughout the meatloaf. Now you can remove the meatloaf from the pan and put it on a carving board. Slice into half-inch slices (5 cm).
This goes great with mashed potatoes and green beans, or rice and a green salad. Cold meatloaf makes good sandwiches the next day for lunch. Next time, you might feel comfortable enough to make some variations so your meatloaf is YOUR (insert name here) meatloaf. Try different meats, more vegetables, different bread crumbs, and different sauces to make your own favorite meatloaf recipe.