A loaf of meat. Really, we have such good names for so many things, but for this we only have meatloaf? I don’t think that’s a word that inspires excitement in anyone.
Well, except my kids, obviously, or we wouldn’t be here right now saying weird words to each other.
Meatloaf, aka the dinner now loved by everyone in my family except the vegetarian, is a recent development for us. I don’t think I even attempted to make meatloaf for the first decade of our marriage, then maybe I tried once with mediocre results and forgot about it for a few more years.
Yet, somehow, the stars aligned in such a way that I spotted a recipe for meatloaf at the same time as I had a clean loaf pan and a couple pounds of ground beef handy. And so now, about a dozen meatloaves in a dozen weeks later, here we are with the winning recipe.
I believe I’ve mentioned my growing enthusiasm for freezer meals, and this meatloaf is probably my very favourite meal to double and freeze one for another day. If you’re squidging your hands into cold, raw meat anyway, you may as well make the pile a little larger and get it done and over with. Ew.
Even if you’re not freezing one, you can make this in the morning when you’re fresh and full of energy, and put it in the oven later when you’re a bit more wilted and frazzled (hello, me at 4:00), and all will be well.
If you’ve been skeptical of meatloaf, I ask that you give this a try and let me know if your feelings change. We find it just right…a little bit sweet, a lot savoury, and I have never once had leftovers. It’s flexible with what you have one hand. Sometimes I squirt on some ketchup and sprinkle some brown sugar before spreading it all together with the back of a spoon, sometimes I just have a wiggle of barbecue sauce to spread around. A honey garlic sauce would be delightful too. We’re just looking for something a little saucy to keep everything moist and glazed and give it a pretty sheen.
To make the whole meal easy, I often serve this meatloaf with hashbrowns (you know the frozen ones that take about 8 minutes in the frying pan?) and some green beans and a salad. If there are buns languishing on the counter, I’ll make them into garlic buns and pop them in the oven alongside the meatloaf for the last 5 minutes. How do you feel about meatloaf? Is it already standard dinner fare in your life? It just feels like such a classic, comfort-food meal, weird name and all, and it’s become a staple at our table.
- 1½ pounds ground beef or ground beef/pork blend
- ½ cup panko bread crumbs
- ¼ cup barbecue sauce
- 1 Tbsp dijon mustard
- 2-3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
- 1 Tbsp honey
- ½ tsp each salt and pepper
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- ⅓ cup ketchup OR barbecue sauce
- Combine everything except the topping ingredients in a large bowl. Use your hands to incorporate all ingredients until just combined - do not overmix. Pack mixture into a 9x5" loaf pan (if you have a smaller pan, you may need to cook it a bit longer as it will be thicker).
- For topping, combine brown sugar with your sauce of choice and spread evenly on top of loaf.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes, then remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes. Drain off any fat or transfer meatloaf to a different dish to serve.
- FOR FREEZER MEAL: Prepare the meatloaf as directed but do not bake. Wrap loaf pan with plastic, then with foil, labeling the foil with directions: Thaw frozen meatloaf overnight in the fridge, then remove wrap and bake as directed.