I usually shy away from meatloaf. A. It is called “Meat-loaf”…it just doesn’t sound appetizing. B. The shape…it is meat trying to masquerade as banana bread. C. Meatloaf seems to be one of those dishes that is either REALLY good or REALLY bad.
Despite my misgivings about meatloaf, I decided to try Ina Garten’s “1770 House Meatloaf” recipe that is featured in her cookbook, Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust. This recipe isn’t a Barefoot Contessa original. It actually comes from one of Ina’s favorite restaurants, the 1770 House, in East Hampton, New York.
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped Spanish onion (I used 1 large white onion)
1 ½ cups diced celery
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground veal
1 pound ground pork
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
3 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons kosher salt (I used only 1 tablespoon since I had less meat)
1 tablespoon black pepper
2 ½ cups panko
I edited this recipe (as usual). For starters, I only purchased 1 pound of ground beef and 1 pound of ground pork. (The meatloaf was PLENTY big with only 2/3s the meat). I also went without chives (a no-go at the store), substituted regular milk for the whole milk, and halved the amount of salt (only 1 tablespoon). If I had had them in my fridge, I would have mixed in carrots and bell peppers too. (I love veggies).
To begin, I pre-heated my oven to 350 degrees. Next, I added the olive oil to a sauté pan and heated it over medium heat. When the pan was hot, I added the chopped onion and celery. Ina says that “2 stalks” are equal to 1 ½ cups of celery. If you use smaller, shorter stalks (like I did), chop up 3 to 4 of them. I cooked the celery and onion for 5 minutes—until the onion was slightly translucent—and then set the pan aside.
Next, I put the beef, pork, parsley, thyme, dill**, eggs, milk, salt, and pepper into a large mixing bowl.
**I couldn’t find chives at the store on Saturday, so I decided to imitate their flavor instead. Chives have a garlic/onion-y flavor, so I added some garlic powder to the mix (about 3 shakes) to compensate. I had fresh dill on hand (and I love dill) so I decided to add it in as my personal “twist.”
Ina says to put the panko in a food processor and process it with a steel blade until it is finely ground… I honestly don’t think this step is necessary. I added the (untouched) panko to my meat mixture and started to lightly toss it in the bowl. Next, I added in the onion and celery that had been cooling. (Please be careful because these veggies can still be quite hot.)
After the ingredients were sufficiently mixed, I laid a piece of parchment paper on a sheet pan and started to arrange the meat. Ina doesn’t do meatloaf in bread pans—and neither do I. She says to arrange the meat in a cylindrical shape down the center of a cookie/sheet pan. It will look odd, but it is much easier to cut and serve this way.
With the meat artfully arranged, I placed the pan in the oven for 40 minutes (until a thermometer inserted in the middle read between 155 and 160 degrees). I allowed the meatloaf to rest for 10 minutes before I started slicing it up–that was a long 10 minutes because it smelled so good!
I do not have a picture of the end result because meatloaf doesn’t photograph well (I’m sure you can understand). Instead, I will sing its praises–starting with the admission that this was the best meatloaf that I have ever had. The meat was moist and extremely flavorful (I recommend that dill). I could eat this stuff all day… really.
I highly recommend this recipe to other meatloaf skeptics. Happy cooking!