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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Meatloaf

Meatloaf was never one of my favorite foods growing up.  It was always kinda bland, boring, and tasted like... well, like bland boring meat, I guess.  But I think that had more to do with the way it was prepared rather than the dish itself.  Meatloaf, I have discovered, can be very tasty.  It all depends on the kind of flavor you want to mix into it.  I like mine to be a little zesty.  I've come up with a recipe that adds just the right amount of zest without being overpowering and still tastes like a traditional recipe.

It starts with crackers.  Put them in a plastic bag and crush them to smithereens.   I like to use my rolling pin for this.

Sometimes I use plain bread crumbs, but I think the crackers add a nice flavor.

Add the cracker crumbs to some ground beef.

Also add an egg,

some salt

and pepper.

 Now set the bowl to the side and grab a cutting board.  Finely dice some onion and mushrooms.
Normally, I would also dice some red bell pepper, but I was out.  But you should add red bell pepper.  It totally helps.  Totally. 

You're going to saute these before adding them to the mixture, so prepare a pan with some olive oil.
Saute the veggies until soft and fragrant.

Now add the sauteed veggies to the meatloaf mix.

Using a large spoon or your hands, mix the ingredients together until they are well incorporated into the ground beef. 

On a large, rimmed baking sheet or baking pan, form the meat into a loaf.

In a small bowl combine some ketchup with some balsamic vinegar.
Stir this together to form a glaze for the meatloaf.  The glaze is what really makes this recipe.  Its tangy and sweet and adds just the right amount of zest to the final product.  I like to brush it on really thick.

Pop this into the oven at 350 degrees for about 45-50 minutes.  When you pull it out, it will look like this:

The glaze has thickened and crackled from the escaping juices.  It may look burned, but that's just the balsamic coming through.  On the inside, it will be tender and juicy. 

Slice this up and serve with some mashed potatoes for a very comforting meal! 

Enjoy!

Meatloaf Recipe
serves 4
1 lb ground beef
1/2 c. cracker crumbs or plain bread crumbs
1 egg
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground pepper
1/4 c. finely diced onion
1/4 c. finely diced mushrooms
1/4 c. finely diced red bell pepper

for the glaze
1/3 c. ketchup
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

Saute the onions, mushrooms, and bell pepper until soft.  Combine sauteed veggies with all other ingredients and mix well.  Transfer meat to a baking pan and form a loaf.

In a small bowl, stir together the ketchup and balsamic vinegar.  Generously spread all over the surface of the meatloaf.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes.

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