Meatloaf is hard to do really badly, as long as you follow a few basics. My rule of thumb for getting the texture right is that all the ingredients, once assembled, should have the consistency of stiff cookie dough. Another tip is to make sure you have a mix of meats. Plain ground hamburger, or plain ground turkey, will cook up too dry. If you are a very disciplined non meat eater, who wants a ground turkey loaf with no secret pork added, I have some tips at the end of the recipe. For this recipe, I combine pre-made pork sausage and beef, which is easier than buying ground veal, ground pork and beef and then mixing.
For 4 adults, with leftovers guaranteed, you’ll need:
1.5 pounds of ground beef, not extra lean (85-15)
2 uncooked Italian pork sausages, hot or sweet (non spicy) . I use one of each. You can take the spice up or down to preference.
1/2 chopped red pepper
1/2 chopped yellow or white onion (not Maui or sweet)
one egg (2 if the eggs are small)
1/2 cup of plain toasted breadcrumbs
Dash or 2 of worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
For the topping:
Good ketchup – I use Simply Heinz
Uncooked pork sausages are the secret.
Put the beef in a bowl. Slice open the uncooked sausages and turn the mixture into the beef. I’ve seen tv chefs try to squeeze the sausage out like toothpaste. It’s easier to slice it open, believe me. Add the chopped red pepper and onion – I use a mini chopper as it is almost pureed and very wet. This moistens the meatloaf as it cooks. Add the egg, cumin and worcestershire. If you hate cumin, you can add in a couple tablespoons of fresh chopped parsley. If dried, just a teaspoon. I add the bread crumbs last, as the mixture is not always as wet or dry as I expect, so I put it in a bit at a time, to get the “tightness” I want.
Miniloaves formed, coated in ketchup.
Now I get out a flat baking pan with at least a one inch rim and shape it into equal mini loaves, as everyone wants a crusty end, and there are only two if you put it in a regular loaf pan.
I then squeeze ketchup over each one, making a “shell”, and I sprinkle brown sugar over the ketchup and kind of press it in.
Bake this at 425 degrees for 20 minutes, then turn it down to 325 for an additional 35 minutes or so. You know your oven. Notes for using ground turkey: double the onion and pepper and double the worcestershire. Omit the cumin and use fresh chopped parsley. I don’t do the ketchup topping on this as it is not really complementary to the poultry flavor. Try it anyway, it may work for you. You need to leave the turkey at high heat longer as it needs to “cook out”. Nobody needs undercooked turkey!
We like the burned bits you get from the brown sugar melting down.
We eat it with a big salad and a side of pan roasted broccoli and garlic in olive oil.