From what I've heard, meatloaf has a bit of a bad rep even though it's considered to be a quintessential American comfort food. Apparently, school cafeteria meatloaf with its mysterious lump of meat submerged in some runny brown sauce has some people scarred for life. I wish I could relate but I really can't because I wasn't raised in the American public school system and had never actually tasted meatloaf until I was in my late twenties.
My first encounter with meatloaf was at a Claim Jumper restaurant and I must say, I really enjoyed it. I also tried it out at a few other restaurants before finally attempting it at home. The biggest trial and error I've had with meatloaf is texture, specifically moistness. It took me quite a few tries before I was finally able to make one heck of a moist meatloaf and folks, this is it!
I used to top the meatloaf with plain ketchup but now I jazz it up with a few more ingredients to make it a spunkier ketchup-based glaze. Serve this meatloaf with some fluffy mashed potatoes and those school cafeteria meatloaf days will become nothing more than a distant memory.
I usually like to prepare the meatloaf mixture about one-hour before baking so that the meat can infuse the seasonings better but you can certainly put it together right before baking if you lack the time.
2 lbs. of lean ground beef (I used 90/10)
1 cup of fresh bread crumbs
1 medium carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 a large onion, roughly chopped
2 celery ribs, roughly chopped
2 eggs, beaten
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. rubbed (ground) thyme
1 tsp. dried parsley1-1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 cup ketchup
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. onion powder
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. soy sauce
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Place the chopped carrots, onions and celery in a food processor and pulse a few times until they are finely chopped but not pureed.
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and saute the garlic until fragrant but not browned. Add the minced carrots, onions and celery and sweat them for about 4 to 5 minutes until they've softened a little. Remove from heat and set aside.
Place the ground beef in a large mixing bowl. Add the cooked carrots, celery, onion and garlic followed by the bread crumbs, salt, pepper, beaten egg, Worcestershire sauce, thyme and parsley.
Using clean hands, gently fold the ingredients into the ground beef a few times until everything is mixed in and distributed well. Transfer the mixture to a loaf pan and pack it in well.
In a large bowl, combine all glaze ingredients together with a whisk.
Brush the glaze over the meatloaf and bake it in the oven for one hour.
When the meatloaf is done, remove from the oven and set aside for about 10 minutes before slicing and serving. Serve with leftover glaze and accompany with mashed potatoes and vegetables.