Made With Love - Country Kitchen Meat Loaf

Made With Love is a column dedicated to first time cooking experiments.  I love to cook and put my own spin on old standby recipes.  Join me as I document the triumphs and failures of my culinary adventures.
Shane has been asking me to make meat loaf for a few months now.  Although that doesn't seem like too strange of a request, for him it was.  He is my meat and potatoes guy and so, one would think, meat loaf should be a staple.  Unfortunately, as a child, he experienced meat loaf made with peaches 'n cream oatmeal. Yeah. He hadn't ate meat loaf since.



I've never made meat loaf.  I knew he wouldn't eat it and, although I grew up on the stuff, I could take it or leave it.  After Shane requested it for the bagillionth time I decided to take the plunge.  After all, I'd been pondering on how I was ever going to come up with enough recipes to use up the ground beef from the 3/4 of a steer we had in the freezer.


I read multiple recipes on the net to come to only one conclusion - I can put whatever I want in the meat and cook it.  Sounded simple enough.


I started with lean ground beef:
Then I began adding....
And adding....
And adding....


Until I couldn't think of anything else to add. 


At this point I was really glad I cook by smell.  Basically, I open each jar of spice and smell it to decide if that is a flavor I'm looking to add into my meal.  I also like to cook by taste... and that just wasn't going to happen here so I was hoping my nose was up for the challenge.


Then I mushed it all together: 


Until it looked like this:


I was having a mild panic attack while I was mushing.  "What if I put in too much binder?" "What if I didn't put in enough seasoning?" kind of thoughts were running through my head.  


And then, well and then I had my biggest issue.  WHAT do I put this in?  It was much too huge to put into the bread pans I'd seen my dad use when I was a kid.  I contemplated putting it into a square pan but decided that even I wasn't that much of a rebel.  I mean after all, it's supposed to be a "loaf" not a "patty". 


Finally I decided on this:
A 15" x 10" glass pan.  I plopped the hunk 'o meat down in the middle and shaped in into a loaf... wondering the whole time if it would hold it's loaf shape or if it would morph into something else.


I stuck it in the oven at 350 degrees then decided that that was not hot enough so cranked it to 375.


Then it was time for the topping.  I opened the refrigerator and my heart sank.  Worcestershire!  I didn't put any Worcestershire in my meat loaf!  How could not? What was I thinking?!


FINE! I said... It's going on top!


A little whisking and...
De-lish! This spicy little concoction should be bottled I tell ya!


After the meat loaf had cooked about 40 minutes I took it out and:


Then back into the oven for another 40-ish minutes:


10-ish minutes of resting and then, oh then it was time to eat! Served up comfort food style with mashed potatoes and green beans from the garden. 




Lessons Learned:
  • A little bit of red pepper goes a long ways! I put just a smidge of a dash... I literally probably could have counted the flecks.
  • If I'm going to share my recipes I really need to measure the ingredients.  Sorry.
  • I have a love-hate relationship with the mushing together part.  It's fun but it's gross.
  • Meat loaf really is easy (and tasty!).
  • Next time I would make more of the topping to use as dipping sauce.
  • It's good. It's really good. 
And now... the "recipe" 

2 lbs lean ground beef - We purchased a 1/4 steer this spring and a 1/2 steer this fall from local growers. 
2 eggs
2/3 c Matzo meal unseasoned - I really prefer this over bread crumbs in almost any recipe.
2 garlic cloves - minced and munched and crushed up really fine
Tinsy amount of red cayenne pepper (fine ground)  
Black pepper according to your tastes... I used probably 2 tsps
Onion Powder - I put in two palm fulls... so probably 2+ Tbsps. 
Cumin... My go to spice.  If I can put it in something I do.  About 1 Tbsp went in this.
Salt... maybe 1 tsp? Again, I'm not a big salt user.
Paprika - a few shakes from the container, about 1-2 tsps
Ground Mustard - a dash... no more than 1 tsp I'd figure
Ground Nutmeg - a smaller dash... probably just shy of 1 tsp
Dry Oregano - a few pinches 
1/2 c tomato sauce
Topping:

Ketchup - about 1 cup
Spicy Brown Mustard - couple Tbsps
Worcestershire - maybe a 1/2 cup
Chili Powder - about 1 Tbsp

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Mix the meat and spices together until well blended. Spray your pan of choice with cooking spray. Plop the meat into the pan and mold into desired shape.  Cook for 40 minutes, pull out and cover with the topping.  Return to oven for another 40 minutes or until meat thermometer reads at least 160 degrees.

PS - Clean up was a breeze. Thank you Pam cooking spray

PPS - It was even more de-lish the next day! Nom nom nom




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