Apologies for the lack of posts this month – I’m working back toward some normalcy. My mom had a cancer diagnosis so you can imagine where my brain has been. I haven’t been doing a ton of cooking, but been doing a lot of stress eating. Fortunately though, it was caught early and has not spread. Life is slowly returning to normal. We enjoyed watching the Game of Thrones finale together (I use “enjoy” loosely for this entire season though…) and while I usually go all out and do a huge medieval feast for any GOT finale (let alone the final finale), this one was just a simple evening of meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and sautéed green beans and carrots.
It was nice to pull out a recipe from my childhood to serve up for my mom. It’s modified from my aunt’s recipe (my father’s sister), but it was a favorite in our house growing up once I learned how to make it by myself. Like I said though, I’ve had time to modify this recipe over the years so this is my base version of meatloaf, which also happens to be gluten free. The measurements for this are very rough as I always make this one by scratch. Pay attention to the texture when you’re mixing the meat together – you’ll want something slightly tacky to the touch, well mixed, but not too wet. This can easily be seasoned differently to invoke whispers of any sorts of flavors you like (look back to my non-Greek Easter Greek Easter post when I mentioned “Greek Meatloaf”). Like tomatoey meatloaf? Add some tomato sauce or top it when ketchup when you bake it! Want something smokey? Add some barbecue sauce! Have some herbs you need to use up? Add them! It’s very versatile.
My aunt always served her meatloaf stuffed into bell peppers for individual portioning, so that’s how I thought meatloaf always came. If I don’t stuff this into a bell pepper, I bake it on a foil lined rimmed baking sheet in a free form loaf. It works in a loaf pan if you prefer that. I like having as many exposed crisped sides as possible though.
Snarfy’s Basic Meatloaf
Measurements are very rough. Serves 6
2 pounds ground beef (80-20 or 85-15)
1/4 cup (or so) milk
1/2 cup -3/4 cup coarse oatmeal flour (explained below)
salt, pepper, and garlic powder (or whatever spices and herbs you like)
Preheat your oven to 375 deg F.
Make your coarse oat flour. I get some plain rolled oats and pulse them through my food processor or bullet blender a few times until I end up with a coarse flour. Keep the extra in a mason jar in your pantry as this is a great substitute for bread crumbs in meatball recipes too.
In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, eggs, milk, oatmeal, and spices. Mix with your hands until everything is well incorporated. Your meat mixture should be slightly tacky but not super wet.
Free form your loaf on a rimmed baking sheet or place into a loaf pan. Bake until internal temperature reads 155 deg F, approximately 45-60 minutes depending on the size and density of your loaf. Allow to sit for at least 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
Variations and other suggestions:
- Keep it basic and serve smothered in brown gravy.
- For stuffed bell peppers (like the picture), cut the top quarter off your washed bell peppers. Remove ribs and seeds. Fill with meatloaf mixture and place in a tall sided baking dish (like an 8×8 square Pyrex dish) to bake. You can also halve the bell peppers (top to bottom) for smaller portions.
- For Greek meatloaf, season with a Greek seasoning blend or make your own with dried mint, oregano, rosemary, dill, onion, and garlic. Add crumbled feta to the mix for an extra deliciousness.
- For Italian meatloaf, season with an Italian seasoning blend or make your own with dried oregano, basil, thyme, basil, rosemary, and sage. Top with tomato sauce before baking or sever covered in warmed marinara. If you’re down with cheese, you can also top with shredded parmesan or mix chunks of asiago into meat mixture.