First the meat, then the cheese.

So, we’ve been enjoying the summer around here. And not blogging as much, evidently. But with August more than half-gone, let’s take a moment to share one more recipe. Then we’re going to take a break from our getting-ready-for-another-baby groove and spend the week anticipating another important September event: the Minnesota Cheese Festival.

(Consider that a hint of this week’s posts to come.)

But for now, let’s share another recipe that’s been tucked away in the chest freezer for a night off in the kitchen: meatloaf!

In the interest of full disclosure, I have made this recipe before while on maternity leave – our oldest was about 10 or 11 weeks old at the time, and unfortunately not quite ready for solid foods yet. But in the years since, it’s a constant favorite whenever we make it. But, as with all these other recipes, we wind up freezing half of what we make to eat at a later time. So this time, I decided to experiment with dividing up the recipe into two smaller free-form loaves to freeze for individual meals.

All-American Meatloaf

(From the America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook)

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  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, chopped fine
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk, plus extra as needed
  • 2 teaspoons dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 pounds meatloaf mix (equal parts ground beef, pork, and veal; or you can use a pound of ground beef and a pound of ground pork)
  • 2/3 cup crushed saltine crackers, or breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup minced parsley

Adjust the oven rack to the middle position, and preheat to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and set aside. Heat the oil in an 8-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes.IMG_1786Meanwhile, mix together the ketchup, brown sugar, and vinegar and set aside.

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In a separate bowl, mix the eggs, milk, mustard, Worcestershire, salt, pepper and tabasco together.

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Mix the meatloaf mix, crackers, parsley, sautéed onion mixture, and egg mixture until evenly blended and the mixture doesn’t stick to the bowl (if the mixture sticks, add additional milk, a tbls at a time, until it no longer sticks).

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Turn the meat mixture onto the foil-lined baking sheet and shape into a 9 by 5-inch loaf. Brush with half of the ketchup mixture. Bake the loaf for 45 minutes. Freezer-friendly variation: I divided the mixture into two smaller loaves, and brushed each loaf with about one-fourth of the ketchup mixture instead.

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Brush the loaf with the remaining ketchup mixture and continue to bake until the center of the loaf measures 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 15 minutes. Let cool for 20 minutes before slicing and serving.

IMG_1793Because these were smaller in size, I started checking the temperatures about 30 minutes into cooking to make sure they didn’t dry out. I’d definitely recommend doing this if you wish to break down the recipe into smaller serving sizes. Then, it was simply a matter of sealing them up in freezer bags and off they went to cool their heels until a crisp autumn evening calls for a rib-sticking meal involving meatloaf.

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We’ve still got a couple more recipes to share, but we’re going to break from that for a little bit and let our talk here turn literally cheesy.

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