Unlike most families—at least according to TV—my family did not dread meatloaf night. My mom made good meatloaf with some creative input from my dad. Always, always with baked potatoes and frozen lima beans! You see, my city Grandma, Elizabeth’s, lima bean recipe called for a tablespoon of sour cream, so the rest of it worked for baked potatoes, which baked at the same temperature as the meatloaf. Perfect!
We eat meatloaf, too. But Bill hates lima beans and he’s gluten free, so some adapting has been in order. In fact, meatloaf is a “fast food” blessing in our frequently chaotic universe. Here’s how:
My adapted version of Mom and Dad’s old recipe calls for…
1 ½ lb ground meat. She always used ½ lb each of pork, veal, and beef conveniently wrapped and labeled “meatloaf mix” at Publix. They probably still sell it! I use equal parts local, grass fed ground beef and ground lamb and mild Italian sausage, also local, sustainable…Hot Italian sausage would work, too, or any other variety you like. For this you need a good, local butcher who cuts meat and makes sausage in house. We like Pine Street Market. (Buy the sausage in bulk if they have some or just strip it out of the casings with a sharp knife.)
1 egg, beaten—the best eggs you can get. Most of ours come from a friend’s backyard.
¼ c. chopped onion, preferably organic. Depending on the meat mix you choose, maybe 1 tbsp. of chopped garlic, too.
1 c. buttermilk
1 c. rolled or steel cut oats, preferably organic. NOT instant! If gluten is a major concern, you can now get oats from mills that don’t process gluten grains like wheat. Try Amazon.com
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce. Or red wine. Or even a good vinegarette!
1-2 tbsp. ground, freeze-dried mushroom powder
1 tsp. Celtic sea salt
¼ – ½ tsp. fresh ground pepper, or more to taste
½ tsp. dry mustard, yellow or brown, or more to taste
A little crushed red pepper wouldn’t hurt! (1 tsp. or so, to taste)
This makes one loaf pan sized meatloaf. I multiply this recipe by 4. That’s 6 lb ground meat, as above, etc., etc. The “fast food” part is coming.*
Start ahead by mixing your oats and buttermilk together and leaving them to soak, covered loosely, up to 4 hours at cool room temperature or in the fridge.
After the oats have soaked, preheat oven to 375 F.
Beat the egg(s) in the bottom of a non-wooden bowl big enough to hold everything.
Add all the rest of your ingredients. I do meat first and mix it with the egg, then add everything else. You’re going to have to get in there with your hands. Don’t squish and mash. Turn and combine. When it’s right it will be gooey and sticky but not at all runny.
Now comes portioning. Take out whatever you want for “tonight”. A regular loaf pan, a mound on a sheet tray… You can even cover it with ketchup if that’s comfort food for you!
Bake, uncovered, at 375 F. for about an hour and 15 minutes until crusty, golden brown, and pulling away from the sides. Baking potatoes welcome! (Organic is important with potatoes!) Scrub, dry, prick with fork or knife tip. They’ll be done when the meatloaf is.
If you’re making extra, you’ll want extra loaf pans, sized for your family’s needs. Ceramic will work. Because we give lots of these away, we usually do small eco-foil ones. I get 1 large and 9 small pans with this recipe multiplied by 4, as above. Divide the mixture into the pans and overwrap well with heavy-weight foil. Label and date. Put all those little treasures in the freezer for crazy days or new moms or whatever. With a good helper, it takes just about an hour + baking time to get the entire process done.
*I try to thaw frozen loaves overnight in the fridge but 3-4 hours on the counter, well out of reach of the dog, will do it.
Heat in a 375 F. oven with the foil on top loosened but not open for 45 minutes, then uncover and let go another ½ hour or so until the top browns nicely and it pulls away from the pan.
I won’t tell if you skip the lima beans!