Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Why, yes, it actually is my mom's meatloaf

There was an infamous thread on Serious Eats a few years ago where some newcomer posted a one-sentence introduction to a meatloaf recipe, but never posted the recipe. No one knows if it was an intentional bit of humor, or a technical glitch. That poster never came back. At least not with that same screen name.

However, much hilarity ensued as people commented about the "recipe." It ended up being one of the most popular comment threads for the week, and "Not your mom's meatloaf" almost achieved meme status. Or at least it became a meme on Serious Eats.

And when I think about meatloaf, I think about that goofy thread. And mom's actual meatloaf.

Meatloaf and mashed potatoes was the first meal I fed to my husband when he came home from the hospital on February 2. He likes meatloaf. He loves the meatloaf I make. It's a dead-simple recipe that my mother used to make.

Sometimes I add a bit of flare, but the basic recipe works well, and it makes great day-after sandwiches.

(Yes it is) Mom's Meatloaf

3 slices not-super-fresh bread
1/4 to 1/2 cup milk, as needed
3 pounds ground beef
1 medium onion, diced
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
Several grinds black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cut the bread into cubes, or tear into pieces. Put in a large bowl. Drizzle the milk over the bread to moisten it a bit. You don't want it soggy. The amount of milk you need depends on the bread you're using. If you toss in too much milk, don't fret. You can add more bread later if need be.

Add all of the rest of the ingredients and mix well with your hands. One thing my mother told me is that the texture of the meatloaf before you cook it is what you'll get when you're done. The meat will firm up as it cooks, of course, but if you have a loose, wet, sloppy mixture, it will be a sort of soggy, loose meatloaf. If it's really dense and tight, that's what the meatloaf will be.

So, if you added too much milk and the meat mixture seems too loose, tear up some more bread and add it.

Shape the meat into a round or oval shape, whatever you prefer. Place it on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees until the internal temperature reaches "well-done" - 160-170 degrees.

Let the meatloaf rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing.