''For the most tender, moist meatloaf, use meat with 20 percent fat,'' writes cookbook author Diane Rossen Worthington. Cook meatloaf in a regular loaf pan, unless you have a meatloaf pan. Ms. Worthington explains that this is a ''wonderful recent invention consisting of one pan with drainage holes set inside a second pan - allows excess fat to drain out during cooking.'' She suggests serving her meatloaf with a generous helping of mashed potatoes.
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large yellow onion
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs. 80-percent lean ground beef
1-1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, crumbled
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2/3 cup ketchup
1/2 cup tomato sauce, plus tomato sauce for serving (optional)
In a nonstick frying pan over medium heat, warm the vegetable oil. Add the onion and carrot and saute, stirring occasionally, until the carrot begins to soften and the onion is almost translucent, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute longer. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly oil a 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pan.
In a large bowl, combine the beef, bread crumbs, and the cooled vegetable mixture. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, salt, pepper, thyme, parsley, Worcestershire sauce and ketchup until combined. Pour the egg mixture over the beef mixture. Using your hands, mix the ingredients together, handling just enough to combine evenly. Do not overmix or the loaf will be too compact and dry.
Pat the meat mixture gently into the prepared loaf pan; don't press too firmly. Pour the 1/2 cup tomato sauce evenly over the top. Bake until the loaf has begun to shrink from the sides of the pan and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 150 degrees F., about 1-1/4 hours. Transfer to a rack and let cool for 10 minutes.
Cut the meatloaf into thick slices and, using a spatula, lift out of the pan and place on warmed individual plates. Serve warm or cold, accompanied with more of the tomato sauce, if desired. Serves 6.
''Any kind of potato can be mashed. Waxy white, red, or yellow varieties yield cream purees, while baking potatoes produce the fluffier results usually found in diners. Evaporating the moisture after cooking the potatoes helps make them even lighter and fluffier when mashed.''
3 lbs. white, red, yellow-fleshed or baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
1-1/2 teaspoons salt, plus salt to taste
1/3 cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons half-and-half, heated
Ground white pepper
In a large bowl, combine the potato pieces with water to cover and let stand for 5 minutes to remove excess starch. Drain.
Bring a large saucepan three-fourths full of water to a boil. Add the 1-1/2 teaspoons salt and the potatoes and return to a boil. Boil until tender when pierced with a fork, about 15 minutes. Drain well and return to the empty pan.
Place the pan over high heat and, turning the potatoes to prevent scorching, heat to evaporate the moisture, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Using a potato masher, mash the potatoes until they are almost smooth. Add the butter, mash together, and then add the half-and-half, a little at a time, switching to a spoon when the potatoes are smooth. The potatoes should be creamy but not soupy.
Season to taste with salt and white pepper, transfer to a warmed serving dish and serve immediately.