Meatloaf is one of those easy dishes that you can throw together in a few minutes, bake, and have on hand for all kinds of dishes later. You can change the flavor of the basic meatloaf by switching out a few spices or make it fairly plain and change it when you use it in a meal the next night for dinner. I love having meatloaf on hand; besides quick sandwiches for lunch I also love a hot meatloaf sandwich for supper. Or maybe a sub made with meatloaf and a rich marinara sauce. Your creativity is your only limitation with this basic ingredient.
My P.S. and I have always disagreed on meatloaf recipes. When I first made meatloaf I followed a recipe that used quick cooking oatmeal as the binder, along with eggs. My P.S. insists that bread crumbs should be used. I like the texture of meatloaf made with oatmeal; it seems to replicate the texture of ground beef more than fine bread crumbs. Since I’m making the meatloaf, I get to choose the filler. And I don’t like my meatloaf to end up tightly packed like Spam!
Years back my brother, Roger, said he had the best meatloaf recipe ever. It involved a pre-mixed packet of seasonings from a major spice company. It was really a good tasting meatloaf but it involved so much msg (monosodium glutamate) we quickly discarded that idea. Most of my family has a sensitivity to msg and we have to avoid any packets of seasonings or soups since most of them have it on their list of ingredients. But the main flavoring in Roger’s favorite recipe was that of onions and I carried that idea through in creating my own meatloaf recipe.
I like to dice the onions so very fine in my meatloaf that they blend in and almost disappear. As my recipe evolved I also included ricotta and parmesan since they made a meatball recipe I use so moist and flavorful. I keep spices to a minimum, preferring to add sauces on top of the meatloaf or in the sandwiches to emphasize a Mexican, Barbecue or Italian flavor. I do usually add oregano, as meatloaf is a bit boring if there isn’t at least one spice to make it “pop”. You could also use garlic, cumin. basil or maybe thyme.
I’ve discussed my favorite loaf pans for making banana bread and I again use them here to make meatloaf. My recipe makes two loaves in the long pans and they are perfectly baked in one hour. I have regular sized loaf pans that are shorter and wider but find when the meat is so densely packed in them the outsides of the meatloaf are fried and dried by the time the center of the meatloaf is finally done. The 13″ x 4 1/2″ pans are ideal.
After the loaves are done I save any drippings and make a beefy gravy out of them. Then I can make hot meatloaf sandwiches the second night and have everything ready but the potatoes. I heat the gravy the next night in a kettle on low, then add enough sliced meatloaf for two sandwiches and let them heat in the gravy. Leftover gravy always looks so lumpy and unappetizing. But this gravy was very tasty!
I scrub the potatoes with a brush and cut them into chunks. I put them into a kettle and just cover with water, then boil until tender. I like to have skins-on mashed potatoes. When I made them last night I used some Yukon Gold potatoes I had on hand.
So for leftovers we have hot gravy and meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and we’re ready to assemble our meal. Serve with a vegetable or a salad and we’re well fed!
3 lb ground beef
15 ounces ricotta cheese
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1/2 cup onion; finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon oregano; optional
1 cup parmesan; shredded
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix all ingredients with a potato masher or your hands in a large bowl. Divide between two 13″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pans
Bake on center rack of oven for one hour.
Serve hot or cold in sandwiches.
Save the drippings from the pans to make gravy if desired.
Drippings from the meatloaf pan
2 cups beef broth
1/2 teaspoon salt; or to taste
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried diced onions or onion powder
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 cup cold water
Heat drippings and broth in a medium sized kettle over medium high heat. Add seasonings. Bring to a boil. Mix water and cornstarch in a cup. Pour slowly into boiling broth, stirring as you pour. Stir until it thickens then turn heat to lowest setting and add slices of meatloaf. Heat through.
Skin On Mashed Potatoes
Scrub the potatoes well with a brush and cut into uniform sized chunks. Place in kettle and fill with water until just covered. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to boil and cook until potatoes are tender.