Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Best Meatloaf Ever

Meatloaf and Garlic Mashed Potatoes
Cook's Illustrated Meatloaf

I'll be the first to tell you I'm not a meatloaf fan (food or performer), but this meatloaf has changed my attitude.  It comes from Cook's Illustrated Magazine, and I only made it  because my husband loves meatloaf and I thought I would be nice and make it for him.  I was hooked even before I put this meatloaf in the oven.  Something about the aroma of the thyme and the onion and garlic.  Mmmmm.  Once it's baked it smells even better and it has a bit of a sticky zip to it from the glaze you broil on top.  It converted me into a meatloaf lover.
As you can see from the list of ingredients (22 to be exact), it's no small task putting this meatloaf together.  It takes the large part of an afternoon, but it's definitely worth doing once or twice a year.  Believe it or not, I've even removed two of the ingredients from the original recipe.  Make sure to take the recipe with you to the grocery store when you prepare to make this.
Oh, and I think it's best served with some creamy garlic mashed potatoes.

Glazed Meat Loaf
    --adapted from Cook’s Illustrated Magazine, Number 78, January & February 2006

Meat Loaf Ingredients

  • 3 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, grated on small holes (about 1 cup)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 medium celery rib, finely chopped (about ½ cup)
  • 1 medium garlic clove, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tsp)
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ¼ cup tomato juice (I use V-8)
  • ½ cup chicken broth
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ teaspoon unflavored powdered gelatin
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2/3 cup crushed saltine crackers
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
  • ¾ teaspoon table salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 pound ground sirloin
  • 1 pound ground chuck

Glaze Ingredients

  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar


1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 375 degrees. Spread cheese on plate and place in freezer until ready to use. Prepare baking sheet: Fold heavy-duty aluminum fold to form a 10 by 6-inch rectangle. Center the foil on a metal cooling rack and place the rack over a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil. Poke holes in the foil with a skewer or toothpick (about ½ inch apart). Spray the foil with non-stick cooking spray.

2. Heat butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until foaming; add onion and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 6-8 minutes. Add garlic, thyme, and paprika, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Reduce heat to low and add tomato juice. Cooks, stirring to scrape up browned bits from pan, until thickened, about 1 minute. Transfer mixture to small bowl and set aside to cool.

3. Whisk broth and eggs in large bowl until combined. Sprinkle gelatin over liquid and let stand 5 minutes. Stir in soy sauce, saltines, parsley, salt, pepper, and onion mixture. Crumble frozen cheese into coarse powder and sprinkle over mixture. Add ground beef; mix gently with hands until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute.* Transfer meat to foil rectangle and shape into a 10 by 6-inch oval bout 2-inches high. Smooth top and edges of meat loaf with moistened spatula. Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into center of loaf reads 135 to 140 degrees, 55-65 minutes. Remove meat loaf from oven and turn on broiler.

4. While meat loaf cooks, combine ingredients for glaze in small saucepan; bring to simmer over medium heat and cook, stirring, until thick and syrupy, about 5 minutes. Spread half of glaze evenly over cooked meat loaf with rubber spatula; place under broiler and cook until glaze bubbles and begins to brown at edges, about 5 minutes. Remove meat loaf from oven and spread evenly with remaining glaze; place back under broiler and cook until glaze is again bubbling and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes more. Let meat loaf cool about 20 minutes before slicing.

Makes 6-8 servings, depending on how hungry people are.

*The last time I made this meatloaf, I halved the mixed up meatloaf, formed one loaf on the prepared wire rack and formed the other one on freezer paper.  I left it in the freezer for about three weeks, and when I was ready to use it, I was actually in a hurry, so I had to thaw it a little in the microwave.  It cooked a little in there, but I put it on the prepared rack, baked it, glazed it, and it tasted great.  Just enough to feed three hungry people and have a little left over for my lunch the next day.  I'm going to do the freezer thing again.

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