I think meatloaf must be the quintessential comfort food dish. Everyone has a mom who was famous for it, and there must be as many fabulous recipes as there are moms. Usually the mainstream meatloaf comes down to meatloaf with either (1) gravy, (2) barbecue sauce, or (3) tomato sauce. I happen to like all three.
The loaf with the gravy demands to be served with mashed potatoes, but with the others I am also fond of serving it with macaroni and cheese or a gratin of potatoes. So it really all comes down to your mood. Served with a simple vegetable side or tossed salad, it is a good home-cooked meal.
The base on this one is one that I prefer. I find cracker crumbs too tight and using the fresh bread crumbs really does give a tender texture. I have made meatloaf this way since I can remember.
The tomato sauce on this is one of my husband's favorites. We really love this for a standard tomato sauced meatloaf, but the beauty of it is, you can leave that off and top it with beef gravy or barbecue sauce when you find the loaf is one you love. Bake the barbecue sauce on in a similar fashion, but gravy can just be poured at the table so it does not get a skin to it.
I do hope you enjoy the recipe and return to it time and again when you want something with the feel of home.
Meatloaf with tomato sauce
Serves 7 to 8
1-1/2 cups chopped onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 pounds ground beef
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon dry thyme
salt and black pepper
3-1/2 ounces soft fresh bread crumbs
1/3 cup milk
For the tomato sauce:
3/4 cup chili sauce (tomato based, such as Heinz)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Saute onions in olive oil until they are soft and lightly browned.
3. Pulse bread in a food processor until it forms soft crumbs (I used four slices of white bread; amount may vary due to type and brand)
4. Place beef, onions, garlic, eggs, Worcestershire, mustard, thyme, salt and black pepper in a food processor and mix on med-low until combined.
5. Add in bread crumbs and milk and mix until it incorporates evenly.
6. Line a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick foil (easier cleanup, preserves pans).
7. Place meat mixture on the foil and form it into a compact loaf.
8. Stir together the ingredients for the sauce and spread 1/4 cup sauce onto the top of the raw loaf.
9. Place pan in oven and bake 45 minutes.
10. After 45 minutes, add half the remaining sauce to the top and bake 15 minutes more, then add the last of the sauce and bake for another 20-30 minutes or until your meat thermometer reads 160 degrees F. in the center of the meat.
11. Allow loaf to rest 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving.
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