Mad About Meatloaf

Take the comfort-food classic to the next level.

Plate of meatloaf

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I never had meatloaf until I arrived in the States. Since then, I have experienced the good, the bad, and the ugly. One of the great things about meatloaf is its versatility — it’s a blank canvas, inviting you to flex your imagination and experiment with different spices, herbs, and seasonings. I keep the flavors straight-forward in Classic Meatloaf — rosemary, thyme, ketchup, and a kick of Worcestershire sauce — that appeal to a simple palate my boys will enjoy.

I prefer to cook meatloaf free-form, not in a loaf pan, so the sides are exposed to more oven heat, making for a crusty, brown exterior that adds flavor and texture. Use a meat thermometer to ensure you’re not bringing a brick to the table. The worst meatloaf I’ve eaten was overcooked and dry. Let the meatloaf rest before cutting, so the flavorful juices have time to redistribute throughout the meat.

Vivid chartreuse and conical in shape, romanesco — a member of the cruciferous vegetable family that includes broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage — tastes similar to cauliflower, but with a delicate, nuttier flavor and crunchier texture. If you can’t find romanesco, you can substitute a head of cauliflower for this pairing — try a yellow or purple variety.

Of course, not only is a meatloaf a hearty dinner, but the leftovers make for a great sandwich to eat while watching a soccer match on the sofa.

Classic Meatloaf

(Makes 8 servings)

Ketchup:

  • 3 ripe medium tomatoes (about 1 1/4 pounds total), quartered
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar

Meatloaf

  • 1 cup cubed (1/2-inch) French baguette
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/3 cup coarsely grated yellow onion (use large holes on box grater)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 2 large eggs, beaten to blend
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup Homemade Ketchup (recipe follows)
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

To prepare ketchup: In blender, puree tomatoes with Worcestershire sauce until smooth. Heat small heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add olive oil, then add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 6 minutes, or until tender. Stir in brown sugar and tomato paste, then stir in pureed tomatoes and vinegar. Bring mixture to boil over high heat, stirring often. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally to prevent ketchup from scorching, for about 1 hour, or until thickened to desired consistency.

Season to taste with salt. Serve warm or cold. Recipe yields 1 1/2 cups. You’ll only need 1/2 cup of ketchup for meatloaf, but remaining ketchup is delicious condiment to have on hand.

To prepare meatloaf: Position rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 350°F. Line large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil (for easy cleanup). Place wire cooling rack on foil.

In large bowl, stir bread cubes and milk together. Soak for about 10 minutes, or until bread is very soft.

Mash bread with your hands. Add ground beef, parsley, onions, Parmesan cheese, tomato paste, eggs, thyme, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Using your hands, mix just until all ingredients are thoroughly combined. Shape meat mixture into 9 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch oval loaf and place on rack on baking sheet. Bake for 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, in small bowl, mix ketchup, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce together. Spread half of ketchup mixture over meat loaf and continue baking for about 20 minutes more, or until instant-read thermometer inserted into center of loaf reads 150°F. Let stand at room temperature for 10 minutes.

Remove meatloaf from rack, slice, and serve with Roasted Romanesco, mashed potatoes, or other side dish.

Per serving

  • Calories: 314
  • Total Fat: 13 g
  • Saturated Fat: 5 g
  • Sodium: 761 mg
  • Carbohydrate: 24 g
  • Fiber: 2g
  • Protein: 22 g
  • Diabetic Exchanges: 3 lean meat, 2 vegetable, 2 fat

Recipe adapted from What’s for Dinner by Curtis Stone. Copyright © 2013 by Curtis Stone. Excerpted with permission of Ballantine Books, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved.

Roasted Romanesco and Carrots with Tarragon Sauce

plate of roasted romanesco and carrots
(Photo by Ray Kachatorian)

(Makes 4 servings)

  • 12 ounces medium carrots (preferably heirloom; about 8), peeled, trimmed, and halved lengthwise
  • 12 ounces romanesco or cauliflower, separated into 2-inch florets (with 1-inch-long stems)
  • 6 small shallots, peeled, halved
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Place large heavy baking sheet on rack in center of oven. Preheat to 425°F. In large bowl, toss carrots, romanesco, and shallots with 3 tablespoons olive oil to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Spread vegetables out on the preheated baking sheet and roast, stirring occasionally, for about 25 minutes, or until tender and deeply browned all over. In small food processor, mince garlic. Add tarragon, parsley, thyme, and red pepper flakes, and continue pulsing until herbs are coarsely ground. Pulse in zest and vinegar. Drizzle in 2 tablespoons oil while mixing. Season sauce with salt and pepper. Transfer roasted vegetables to platter. Drizzle sauce over and serve immediately.

Per serving

  • Calories: 141
  • Total Fat: 18 g
  • Saturated Fat: 3 g
  • Sodium: 73 mg
  • Carbohydrate: 16.5 g
  • Fiber: 4 g
  • Protein: 3 g
  • Diabetic Exchanges: 2 vegetables, 1.5 fat

Recipe adapted from Good Food, Good Life by Curtis Stone. Copyright © 2015 by Curtis Stone, excerpted with permission of Ballantine Books, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved.

Finish out this entrée with Garlic and Herb Mashed Potatoes and Oven-Roasted Broccoli with Lemon, at saturdayeveningpost.com/garlicmash.

This article is featured in the January/February 2022 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.

Featured image: Quentin Bacon

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