I grew up eating meatloaf on a regular basis. It was a popular item in my mom's dinner rotation, usually served with baked potatoes - because they could bake at the same time - and a green vegetable, like broccoli. Although I've knocked my mom's cooking on occasion (sorry, mom) I actually liked her meatloaf quite a bit. And the leftovers made for a good sandwich on toasted bread with cheese and ketchup. But not everyone has happy memories of meatloaf and there's that association with bad cafeteria food. Just the sound of it is perceived as a bit unappetizing. A loaf of meat? Surely someone could have thought of a better name. Though isn't it strange how no one reacts that way to meatballs, especially when a meatloaf and a meatball are so similar? Hmm.
Traditional meatloaf "mix" is packaged with beef and pork. But as I browsed around the Rutland Co-op last week, turkey caught my eye over pork. I guess my turkey craving couldn't wait for Thanksgiving. Mushrooms called to me as well and add an extra savory depth to the loaf. And that's what I love about foods like meatloaf, meatballs and burgers - you can always play with the flavors.
Chopped onion, garlic, sage and thyme flavor the meat as well, while egg and breadcrumbs bind it all together. It's really pretty simple to put together, that must have been why my mom relied on it so often. Once the meat is mixed it bakes unattended for nearly an hour.
The best tool for mixing meat is your hands. Don't be afraid to get a little dirty.
You don't need a loaf pan for a meatloaf. It bakes up fine just shaped on a baking sheet. See the large flecks of onion? Yum. But if you're not an onion fan, chop those up a bit more than I did here.
A little homemade gravy cannot be overlooked when serving meatloaf. Just save some of the onion from the loaf, cook it with tomato paste, mustard and flour, reduce with apple cider and it's good to go well before the meatloaf comes out of the oven. Or if you're on top of your game and have the gravy made before the meatloaf is in the oven, spoon some over top before baking.