“Son Approved” Meatloaf

meatloaf in cast iron pan

Piping Hot Meatloaf Right Out Of The Oven

As some of my acquaintances know, I often don’t use a recipe. And even when I do use a recipe, to me it’s a “guideline” most of the time. For example, a recipe that calls for one clove of garlic, well… I’m more likely going with two or three! Some recipes that don’t have garlic on the ingredient list – when I’m cooking, garlic just might be added anyhow!

Meatloaf is not much different – never really followed an exact recipe, but tonight my son David thought meatloaf for dinner sounded good after several days in a row of turkey. So, I decided I would sort of keep track of what and how much of the ingredients I put into it.  Interestingly, my son thought it was one of the best meatloaf dinners that he’s ever had. His plate was pretty full as it was to start with, but he had seconds of the meatloaf. Thankfully, there’s enough left over that we can have it for lunch tomorrow as well.

Just like the banana bread, I like to bake meatloaf in my Lodge cast iron loaf pan. It’s big enough for the two of us, and with leftovers for the next day. But if I was cooking this for a larger group, I’d likely to have purchase more of the Lodge cast iron pans or resort to the larger size standard sandwich bread loaf pan.

Of course, you can do all sorts of things with meatloaf and I’m sure what I do is pretty standard, but for those that want to know pretty close to what I do, here it is:

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. approximately unfrozen ground beef (sometimes referred to as mince or mince meat)
  • 1 Medium sized onion, finely chopped (by the way, if you want to learn the best way to dice onions using a Chef knife, check out this free Complete Knife Skills Course with Brendan McDermott. (Yes, it’s FREE!).
  • A single stalk of celery (sometimes called rib as opposed to the whole “head” of celery) – finely sliced.
  • One full “bunch” of Green Onions, finely sliced.
  • 4 Garlic Cloves – minced.
  • 2 Teaspoons Himalayan Salt (Why Himalayan? Well… why not? It’s good!)
  • 1 Teaspoon ground Cardamom (This is enough to give a “hint” of cardamom to the finished meat loaf. You could use more).
  • 1 Teaspoon or so of ground black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon Lea & Perrin’s Sauce (Worcestershire Sauce)
  • 1/3 Cup of Ketchup (but also more for later on, as a “glaze” over the meatloaf before you put it in the oven. See method.)
  • 2 Eggs – Beaten
  • 1 Cup approximately Bread Crumbs.
  • Butter (How much? I dunno… you’re going to do some sauteing so read the method and add what you need! 🙂 ).

Method:

Grease loaf pan, put it in the oven to heat while the oven is pre-heating to 350F.

Prepare the onion, celery, garlic and green onions. Heat up a skillet and melt butter so it covers the surface of the skillet. Saute the onion, celery, garlic and green onions for several minutes.  If you need more butter, add more butter. Start with a tablespoon. I am sure I use more than that, however.

Add Ketchup, salt, pepper and cardamom to the vegetables.  Stir well, cook a few minutes longer and then remove from the burner and allow to cool.

In a bowl, add the ground beef and eggs. Then using a spatula, add the vegetable mixture to the bowl. Mix these ingredients well then slowly mix in the bread crumbs. Depending on how moist the mixture is, you may want to use a bit more – or less – of the breadcrumbs. I found a cup was perfect, this evening.

You want a fairly stiff mixture that you are going to scrape out of the bowl, using a spatula, into the loaf pan.  Press the mixture into the pan, and form a smooth top with the spatula.

Add more ketchup – enough to cover the ground beef mixture entirely – over the meatloaf. You just want a fairly thin coating of ketchup covering it all.

Bake in the pre-heated oven for 1 hour.

meatloaf slice

Moist and tasty meatloaf slice…

When you remove the meatloaf, set aside the pan on a surface where you can allow the meatloaf to sit for a good ten minutes. Although it will be smelling oh so very good, and you’ll be tempted to try to remove it from the pan and eat it right away, don’t. It needs ten minutes of cooling to set. So take those ten minutes to mash your potatoes and steam your broccoli and spinach (which is what we had, as well as carrots), or go set the table.

If you follow the above ingredients and method fairly close, you will have a very tasty and moist meatloaf that will be “kid approved!” And adults will enjoy it as well.

Additional Comments:

1. Meatloaf is one of those things that you can have lots of fun with and play around with spices, herbs, and many ingredients. However, if you have children, you have to bear their tastes in mind, and what they are expecting. I have all kinds of ideas that I want to try in a meatloaf, but I’m not going to do it when my son is hungry and he is looking forward to something he is familiar with.. although I do love to introduce him to new tastes and experiences in food – but in those cases, I am always prepared to fall back on something in case his first taste is so not what he was expecting, that he may “think” he does not like it.

I say “think” because often, tastes are judged on what we expect, especially when we’re younger. If you are expecting something to taste a certain way, but it does not, there could be the element of disappointment which comes across as “not liking it,” when in fact, the next time you taste, you discover you quite enjoy it. Taste then is often very much psychological as much as it is about our palette.

2. I can’t say enough about the FREE Complete Knife Skills Course with Brendan McDermott. I would say his lesson on cutting onions was time so very well spent! If you cut onions and find yourself “tearing up” up in the eyes, then you need to sign up for Brendan’s course. I thought I was pretty good with a Chef Knife.. getting tips along the way from others, but Brendan has shown me I had a lot to learn, and boy did I learn!  Did you know you can reduce the eye  tearing simply by using a specific method to cut up onions? Take the course! And learn more as well.

3. Don’t buy a complete knife set in the big box stores. They might seem like a “good deal,” but in reality, you should be investing in THREE high quality knife styles, and you may find different manufacturers suit you better for the particular style of knife you are using. For example, I have  used a variety of Chef Knives over the years, including supposed “high quality” Japanese, German and American.  About a year ago, I discovered the Wusthof Classic Ikon Chef’s Knife.  It’s a beauty, and far better quality than anything you will get in any of the big box stores’ “specials” – even on common “good reputation” brand name knives.

Having said that, I’m leaning toward a Messermeister serrated bread knife – not just for bread, but also for large waxy skinned vegetables and other  harder to handle cuts. I like the model that has a slight curve in the blade, so it will cut efficiently through things other than just artisan crusty bread. Can you think of pineapple and butternut squash?

4. Sometimes, I like diced garlic, and sometimes I like minced (or some call it “shredded”). Most people might use a garlic press. I discovered something much better, called the Garlic Twist.  I love this thing!

Let me know if you enjoyed this meatloaf recipe, and what you would do differently! I’m always interested in new ideas and trying new things!

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