As I sat down to compile this month's Meatloaf Madness entry, it occurred to me we've concentrated on specialty recipes and hadn't yet presented a basic recipe for this American classic.
Where better to turn for such an incarnation of meatloaf than the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, which supplied a recipe to The Oklahoman years ago that's as good today as the day it first ran.
Meatloaf in its most approachable form is a combination of beef, a binding agent, fresh herbs and vegetables and a tangy sauce to top it off. The Cattlemen's recipe includes all those things plus a little milk to add a creamy element.
The recipe didn't come with a topping recommendation other than ketchup, which fits the basic nature of today's endeavor.
The reader recipe I chose tweaks the basic ketchup topping and is a simple, delicious play on the meatloaf.
Christine Eilerts, of Jones, submitted her favorite meatloaf recipe. She and her husband of 44 years, Gene, moved to Jones last year after raising two sons on the eastern side of the state.
Christine learned to cook from her mother while growing up in a Mennonite farming community in Kansas.
“I enjoy preparing all kinds of food, am a field editor for Taste of Home Magazine and cook almost all of our meals,” she said in her entry.
Submit your favorite recipe
It's not too late to enter your favorite meatloaf recipe for our Meatloaf Madness series. The address by snail-mail is P.O. Box 25125, Oklahoma City, OK 73125, or email your recipe to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Makes 10 to 12 servings.
2 eggs, beaten
¾ cup milk
1½ cup breadcrumbs
2 teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
½ cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped carrot
2 pounds ground beef
• Combine ingredients; mix well.
• Place into two 7¼-by-4-by-2-inch loaf pans.
• Bake about 1 hour.
½ cup ketchup
½ cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons mustard
• Spread on meatloaves and bake for another five minutes.
Cook's notes: I usually double the topping for my family. You can always cut the ingredients in half and make only one loaf. Also, it is best to mix the first eight ingredients well and then add the ground beef and mix until just combined. Mixing the ingredients with the beef for too long of a time will make a tough meatloaf.
Best Basic Meatloaf
Makes 6 to 8 servings.
1 cup soft breadcrumbs
¾ cup finely chopped onion
½ cup milk
1 large clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
Grated mozzarella cheese
• Combine all ingredients in large bowl, mixing lightly but thoroughly.
• Shape beef mixture into 10-by-4-inch loaf on rack in broiler pan.
• Bake in 350-degree oven for 1 hour.
• Top with ketchup and cheese, and cook another 15 to 20 minutes to medium doneness (160 degrees) or until no longer pink in center, and juices show no pink color. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.
• Cut into slices.
Due to the natural nitrate content of such ingredients as the onions, celery and bell peppers, meatloaf may remain pink even if a 160-degree internal temperature has been reached. Always verify the internal temperature with a meat thermometer or instant-read thermometer to be certain it reaches 160 degrees.
Refrigerate leftovers promptly after serving. The meatloaf may be divided into individual portions, placed in food-safe plastic bags or plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator for three or four days or frozen for up to three or four months.
To freeze, wrap the slices in moisture-proof material such as freezer paper, food-safe plastic freezer bags or heavy-duty aluminum foil. Press out as much air as possible before sealing. To defrost safely, place it on a tray in the refrigerator the day before needed; thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Never defrost at room temperature.