So You Say You Want to Make a Meatloaf?
As far as I’m concerned, there is one way and only one way to make a meatloaf. Growing up, it was simply meatloaf. We ate it. It was delicious. And that was that. When my mom re-married and my stepfather moved in, suddenly there was a new meatloaf in town*. This one had carrots and celery in it. There was something tomatoey baked into it and some sort of alien-ketchup glaze baked onto the top. This was not meatloaf. Not MY meatloaf, anyway. And not any meatloaf I’d ever eat. Thankfully, my mom intervened with the real-deal meatloaf and order was restored to the universe.
Since then, I’ve come to understand “my meatloaf” as Italian and/or New York style meatloaf. This seems to make sense, given that my mother was an Italian from the greater New York area. It also explains my stepfather’s meatloaf (well, as best as it could be explained): he grew up primarily in the mid-west where people are most generally not Italian, not New Yorkers, and ohbytheway have terrible palates and eat the worst food known to man.
But I’m digressing. The point is, I’m going to share with you the One True Recipe for The World’s Best Meatloaf. And you are all going to love me for it. Even you mid-westerners, who likely balked at my description of your local cuisine before begrudgingly nodding and hoping you weren’t forever banished from Meat Loaf Heaven.
- 1 lb ground beef
- 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan
- 1/2 cup diced onion
- 2 eggs
- parsley (fresh or dry, but fresh is much better)
- salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste
- Mix all ingredients except milk well.
- Slowly mix in milk until the mixture won’t absorb any more.
- Free-form into loaf on lined baking sheet.
- Bake at 375-degrees for approximately one hour.
- Pass out.
- Wake up.
- Cut remaining meatloaf into thin slices, fry in butter until browned, and make a sandwich using Wonder bread and ketchup.
- Send Kazzy a ‘Thank You’ card in the mail.
Seems simple, eh? Well it is, and it isn’t. First off, you’ve REALLY got to mix the ingredients well. I tend to use my hands for the first few minutes and then finish it off in the stand mixer, slowly pouring the milk in until the appropriate moistness is reached. And, if you want it to be extra delectable, you’ve got to have the time and the patience to clean and chop the fresh parsley. There are also some minor variations you can make to it (and none of them involve adding vegetables, mind you). I like a course chop on my onion because I like the texture it adds. You are free to chop it finer. I’ll sometimes finish mine off under the broiler for a few minutes because I like a good crust, but be careful because it can quickly burn and/or dry out. You can use different types of meat, including ground chicken and buffalo, but you need to account for the lower fat content. Both usually require an extra egg, and I’ll often make the chicken-loaf into two smaller ones to avoid drying it out. Traditionally only black pepper is used, but if I’m making the meatloaf just for myself, I’ll add some white pepper in there (Zazzy can’t take much heat). If you haven’t yet explored white pepper and you like heat… what the hell are you waiting for? It adds intense, flavorful, back-of-the-mouth heat that won’t burn your taste buds off. You also need to pay attention to the cooking time and what level of doneness you are seeking. I generally cook it to medium, because I find this tends to best highlight the flavors and I tend to be skeptical of beef that was ground by anyone but myself. If I ground my own meat and am using a better cut, I might tend towards medium-rare.
So there you have it. Kazzy’s Mom’s Famous Meatloaf. In some parts, it is known as Lonely Cowboy Meatloaf, due to an (un?)fortunate instance wherein I ate an entire one myself once, sitting alone in a parking lot, wearing a cowboy hat, because my friends thought it was funnier to photograph this than to actually join me as planned.
* This was one of many innocent faux pas my stepfather made that almost led to a riot in our household. It is not easy being a step-parent. My hat is off to those among us who successfully navigate those waters. Just don’t fuck up the meatloaf, mmmkay?