My Favorite Meatloaf

My mother makes a pretty mean meatloaf. It’s always a little different but has similar components such as tomato sauce, bread, cheese and of course ground meats. For years I adopted her basic recipe as my go-to, which you can view here. But recently a friend gifted me the hefty cookbook “The Food Lab” by J. Kenji López-Alt and I saw he suggested adding gelatin to meatloaf, which I found fascinating. His recipe is quite different from my mom’s and involves a bit more labor. Around the same time I checked out a new cookbook from my local library called “Come on Over.” Author Jeff Mauro has his favorite meatloaf recipe where he uses other ingredients that differ from my mom’s. I decided to take a little from all three recipes to create my new favorite meatloaf.

Some things I love about this recipe:

  • The classic loaf shape makes for perfect serving sizes
  • The gelatin makes it slice so perfectly
  • The cold leftovers are SO GOOD
  • You can make delicious meatloaf sliders as Jeff Mauro suggests.

My Favorite Meatloaf

Serves 6-ish

Ingredients:

  • 24 saltine crackers, roughly crushed
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 packet (1 scant tablespoon) unflavored gelatin powder
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup minced onion
  • 1/2 cup minced carrot
  • 1/2 cup minced celery
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1/4 cup minced parsley
  • 1/3 cup shelled pistachios (optional)

For the glaze:

  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • Lots of ground pepper

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Place saltines in a large mixing bowl and set aside. Place stock and milk in a liquid measuring cup and evenly sprinkle gelatin on top. Set aside.

Melt butter in a large sauté pan and add onion, carrot and celery. Sauté till onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Pour in stock/milk mixture; add Dijon, fish sauce, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and simmer until liquid has reduced by half, about 10 minutes.

Place this mixture in the bowl with the saltines and mix till well combined. Let sit till cool enough to touch.

Add beef, pork, eggs, cheese, parsley and optional pistachios. Gently mix with your hands until just combined. Pack mixture into a glass loaf pan, pushing out any air bubbles. Spray a sheet of foil with cooking spray and cover the pan with the foil. This will hopefully keep the loaf from sticking to the foil later (that’s the only downside to my recipe, I’ve found. I haven’t tried spraying the foil, so if you make this recipe, let me know if it works!)

Line a baking sheet with foil. Invert the loaf pan (with the foil still on top) onto the baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes. Carefully remove the baking sheet and using pot holders you don’t care getting gunky, gently jiggle the loaf pan so it comes out. Keep the loaf on the baking sheet and bake another 40 minutes or until internal temperature measures 140 F. Remove and let sit 15 minutes. Turn the oven up to 500 F.

Here is the loaf still in the pan after removing it from the oven.
Here it is after I removed the pan. This will go back in the oven now.

Meanwhile, make the glaze by combining the ingredients in a small saucepan and heating till the sugar is dissolved.

Here is the loaf after the second time in the oven before it was glazed.

Paint loaf with a layer of glaze and bake for 3 minutes. Add another coat of glaze and bake for 3 more minutes. Add a final coat of glaze and bake for 4 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit 10-15 minutes before slicing and serving. Serve with noodles or mashed potatoes and any extra glaze.

Glazed and ready to be sliced!

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