When I was growing up, I don’t really recall eating a lot of meatloaf. It’s a very basic, homey kind of dish, yet I do not have a lot of memories of my mom cooking it for dinner.
Once I started cooking on my own, it was not a dish I would have chosen if I had my pick. Red meat, while tasty, has never been my go-to entree of choice, primarily because I’d rather have something more healthy and more vegetable-heavy. For better or worse, ground beef is always generally inexpensive and that’s a definite plus when shopping on my limited budget. Save for the rest of the ingredients, which are generally pantry staples, one meatloaf runs a little over 4 bucks and can serve almost as many people. It’s great because you can still turn out an easy, delicious meal when hard times are upon you. I’m glad I decided to embrace the humble dish that is meatloaf. Now, it’s one of my bi-weekly staples for dinner, and I just love it. Try this version and I dare you to tell me that you don’t also love it!
I like to use an 85% lean ground beef. Any more lean, and the meatloaf can end up slightly dry. Any less than 85%, and you’re entering Greaseville, population: you. Let’s at least try to pretend that meatloaf is a somewhat healthy dish, shall we?
(this dish serves up to 4, depending on how large you want your meatloaves. Title for these baby meatloaves coined by my boyfriend)
1 lb 85% lean ground beef
1 c panko bread crumbs
3/4 c milk
1 large egg
1/2 medium yellow onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1 tsp soy sauce
3/4 c of your favorite barbecue sauce (I like Famous Dave’s Sweet & Zesty)
Preheat oven to 350. Line a sheet pan with foil, spray with cooking spray, and set aside.
Chop the onion into a small dice. Throw into a large bowl with the ground beef, bread crumbs, milk, egg, minced garlic, salt, pepper and soy sauce. If raw meat weirds you out, feel free to use foodservice gloves if you’ve got them handy, otherwise proceed at your own risk. Mix the meat and other ingredients by hand until it’s all smooth and there are no unmixed pockets of milk and breadcrumbs.
Divide the mixture into quarters, or even thirds if you and your dinner companions are feeling particularly hungry. Place the portions of meat on the lined sheet pan and form into small loaf-like shapes. Brush with your favorite barbecue sauce and place the pan in the middle of the oven. Bake for about 35-40 minutes. Here is where a meat thermometer is your absolute lifesaver. When the meatloaf is done, test it with a digital thermometer. Place it in the center of each loaf, and then pull up a bit so that the end of the thermometer isn’t touching the sheet pan. When it’s fully cooked, the meatloaf should register 165 degrees.
Once the meatloaf is fully cooked, turn on the broiler setting of your oven and once it’s fully heated, put the meatloaves under the broiler for about one minute. I like to do this step because it slightly caramelizes the sauce on top and adds a touch more flavor (as if it needs it!).
Serve this with a simple green salad and potatoes. This meatloaf practically screams for a potato side dish. May I suggest my super creamy mashed potatoes? It’s always been my side of choice. Happy eating!