Fun with egg-free meatloaf
Particularly this week, when playing with the guys' new toys -- the ones that aren't broken, that is -- is more interesting than cooking but I'm sick to death of soups and sandwiches.
That means it's time to raid the stash in the freezer, and tonight's selection was meat loaf with make-ahead mashed potatoes. I remembered to take both out to thaw this morning, so I had a classic comfort meal with next to no prep time.
The prep time was all months ago, when I loafed five pounds of ground beef in a single Sunday and shaped it in 8x4 pans for later use. It seemed like torture back then, particularly as I stuck my hands in the chilly meat to mix it. Have I mentioned lately that I can't stand being cold?
But by now, everyone knows my theory: Better to clean up mess once and get it over with than to clean it up six times.
There's no law, of course, that says this recipe has to be made in five-pound lots. Sane increments work just as well. Maybe even a bit better, because you can vary spices, sauces and cheeses.
The original recipe was my mom's, and I think it probably came off an oatmeal cannister years ago. My version borders on mystery meat, because it's often a surprise even to me as to how it will turn out.
Mom's recipe calls for tomato juice, but that's kind of boring. I've branched out to include virtually any tomato-based sauce -- ketchup, barbecue, salsa, marinara. If you're allergic to garlic, you'll have to either make sure your sauce is garlic-free or improvise a sauce with tomato sauce, onion powder and other spices.
The cheese was my addition, and I vary it according to the sauce. Ketchup gets American; salsa, Monterey or pepper jack; marinara, mozzarella or provolone; barbecue, cheddar.
Going wild with meatloaf? Dang, I lead a boring life.
- 1 1/2 pound ground beef -- half turkey works well, but totally turkey seems dry to me.
- 3/4 c. uncooked oats
- 1/4 c. chopped onion -- I leave out this and the salt and pepper if I'm using ketchup, etc.
- 1 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. pepper
- 1 c. tomato juice
- 1/4 c. water -- this replaces 1 egg in the original recipe.
Combine all ingredients and mix thoroughly. If you can do it with a spoon, you're a better person than I am. Pack half firmly in a 9x5 loaf pan. Add a layer of cheese, but keep a half-inch border of meat around it or the cheese will ooze out as it bakes and that's no fun. Pack the rest of the meat mixture firmly in the pan. Bake at 350 degrees for and hour and 15 minutes. I've also been known to spread additional sauce or cheese on top during the final 15 minutes of baking. Let stand 15 minutes before removing from the pan.
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Copyright 2008 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.