Monday, August 9, 2010

The Meal-Plan Featured Meatloaf

I come from a meatloaf loving family. It was the first food my parents ate together after they got married, and it was at the center of many family dinners. I know many people find it unappealing, but honestly, I can’t see how it’s much different from a hamburger, at least in terms of the basic components. After all, both contain ground meat, some sort of grain, and vegetables.

Since I got married almost 5 years ago, I’ve been working on developing the perfect meatloaf recipe (perfect at least to my meat-and-potatoes loving husband). I’ve even tested out versions of the recipe on my dad, the meatloaf connoisseur (it is his favorite food). After successes and failures, I’ve modified it to one my family loves. Here it is:

1 lb. ground pork
1 can Rotel
1 egg
½ c. chopped bell pepper
½ c. diced onion
1 c. bread crumbs
Dash of pepper
Dash of salt
Dash of garlic powder

Just combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl. I do it by hand to ensure it is thoroughly mixed, but if that is too hands-on for you, a spoon works well also. It cooks best when divided into two loaves in a 9x13 Pyrex dish. It bakes for about 1 hour (give or take 15 minutes depending on the weather) at 375 degrees.

The bread crumbs may need to be adjusted up or down depending on how lean the meat is and what size the egg is. It also depends on the coarseness of the bread crumbs (I used crumbs from stale homemade bread that I’ve thrown in the food processor).

An area of contention is the chopping and dicing of the bell pepper and onion. Countless times I have heard my dad say “It needs more bell pepper,” but no matter how much Mom or I added, it didn’t seem to make a difference. The answer is not how much bell pepper is added but how large it is cut. The more finely it is diced, the more masked the flavor becomes. I like to cut mine in 1/3” pieces so I can see it and taste it, but that is always up to the chef.

The sauce should be spread over the meatloaf after it’s browned in the oven for about 20 minutes. I like my sauce a little sweet, so it consists of 1/2 c. ketchup, 1 T. mustard, and ¼ c. brown sugar.

While I always love mashed potatoes with my meatloaf, I can’t have them now because I put milk in them, and I’m on a dairy free diet while I’m breastfeeding. This time we substituted potato wedges. Just slice a wash potato (organic if you plan to eat the skin!), rub with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Spread the wedges out on a baking sheet and pop it in the oven with the meatloaf for about 30 minutes.

I’m always looking for new dinner ideas, so tell me, what’s your favorite side dish with your meatloaf?

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