While Chef does most of the cooking at home, I, too, enjoy my time over the open flame. But where he effortlessly pairs and seasons any dish, my repertoire is limited to familiar flavours and memorised recipes including, Grandma’s meatloaf.
Before you scoff at meatloaf, take note of this 3rd generation loaf. Like you, I have been served many a bland-slimy slice of meatloaf. In fact, I boycotted ordering meatloaf at restaurants after too many fell short of grandma’s crowd pleasing combo.
Growing up, I looked forward to meatloaf night. It was well received by the whole family– which may account for why we had it so frequently. Mom always called dibs on the heel for its crunchy burnt edges. I liked the juicy pieces towards the middle of the loaf.
But by far, the best part of meatloaf night were the leftovers. A meatloaf sandwich in the school lunchbox was always a welcomed change from the staple turkey and mayo combo. I did not cook my grandmother’s meatloaf for Chef for the first four years of marriage. I assumed he would snub the simple dish. Then one winter evening, feeling homesick and craving comforting flavours, I made meatloaf. Much to my surprise, Chef enjoyed seconds.
A few years later I made meatloaf for my mother-in-law. I was certain I had pushed the boat out too far. Au contraire! She referred to it as a terrine and asked for the recipe. Translating the ingredients to French suddenly made grandma’s mix of ground beef and sausage sound très chic.
My grandmother and mother would tell you the recipe should be followed with exact measurement. I find the recipe almost foolproof and never measure the ingredients. And, whereas grandma’s original recipe called for only Heinz 57 ketchup, I use equal parts of ketchup and barbecue sauce.
It’s your meatloaf. Follow your taste buds.
England benefits from wonderful sausage links and good quality ground sausage. I tend to buy from our local farm shop or preferred grocery store, Waitrose, which carries a range of seasoned sausages links. When making a meatloaf I simply remove the pork from the casings. Growing up in Texas, mom always used Owen’s sausage, As we like a bit of heat, she regularly used Owen’s Hot Sausage Roll. Where available, shop your local butchers for fresh ground pork or sausages.
1 lb lean ground beef
1/2 lb ground sausage meat
5 saltine crackers
1/8 cup ketchup plus additional 2 tablespoons for glaze
1/8 cup barbecue sauce plus additional 2 tablespoons for glaze
salt and coarse ground pepper to season
2-3 bay leaves (optional)
2-3 strips of smoked streaky bacon
- Pre-heat oven to 180ºC (350°F).
- Mix the beef and sausage in a large bowl. (I find using my hands is the best mixer.)
- In a separate bowl beat the egg then mix with meat.
- Crush saltines in small bowl and soak with a little milk. Add to the meat.
- Add ketchup and barbecue sauce.
- Season with a few pinches of salt and generous dash of coarse ground pepper.
- Mould meat mixture into a loaf. For best in show presentation, use a bread tin to form an even loaf. Turn out into a Pyrex dish.
- Place strips of bacon along length of loaf.
- To create a nice glaze on top, lightly coat loaf with a few tablespoons of ketchup and barbecue sauce.
- Pour enough tap water to just cover the bottom of the Pyrex dish.
- Place bay leaves in water.
- Place the meatloaf in center of pre-heated oven and bake for approximately 1 hour, or until cooked through.
- Remove and let rest for at least 2 minutes. Skim fat off edges and carefully transfer meatloaf to a carving board.
* Leftover meatloaf can be refrigerated for up to one week.
For an easy family dinner, bake a few sweet potatoes alongside the meatloaf. Served with salad or a steamed green vegetable, you have cooked a well balanced meal.