Ultimate comfort food, made safe!
Well, it’s here. The middle of winter in the Midwestern. For those of you not familiar with the Midwestern United States, I’ll explain. At this time of year, there are basically two different types of weather: ridiculously cold and snowy, or sort of cold with dreary, drizzly rain. We’ll have beautiful sunny skies but instant frostbite, or steel grey skies with nonstop misty rain that makes it impossible to dial in your windshield wipers and has everyone self-diagnosing as having Seasonal Affective Disorder. I love the first big snowfall of the season, but after that, winter can just go somewhere else. So in this bleak season when the skies are the color of granite and the cold unrelentingly grips your toes, I feel the need for good comfort food. And in my mind, there are few better comfort foods than meatloaf.
The only meatloaf I have ever liked was the one my mom made. Simple, but delicious. Since I grew up helping her out in the kitchen, I had a pretty good handle on making it myself. I haven’t made meatloaf in years because every recipe I’ve ever seen requires an egg for binding. Since Reese can’t have egg, that’s not an option. But as I sloshed through a puddle of slush-rain-parking-lot-grime (stupid Midwestern winter), I decided I needed to find a way to make it work, taking my mom’s meatloaf and making it my own: Dad’s Meatloaf.
Most meatloaf recipes call for torn-up hunks of bread (or at least breadcrumbs). I’m not a fan of that because I feel like you get bits of soggy bread. So instead, we used rolled oats. It adds a bit more texture without getting overly wet. To add a little more texture and flavor, I decided to throw some veggies in as well.
Caramelizing the onion adds a nice complexity to the flavor and keeps you from biting into hunks of crispy onion. It’s super easy to caramelize onions. I cut the onions into smallish pieces because I wanted smaller pieces in the meatloaf. Then melt some light oil or Earth Balance in a skillet, salt the onions, and cook them slowly until they get brown and sweet. Keep the heat low – your not trying to sauté them. I opted to leave the bell pepper raw, but you can cook those with the onions, too, if you’d like.
Mix the caramelized onions, diced bell pepper, minced garlic, and rolled oats into the ground beef. Add your favorite barbecue sauce (my mom used ketchup, but I wanted to change it up). Some black pepper, salt, and smoked paprika will round it out. To replace the egg, I used Ener-G egg replacer. The thing with Ener-G is that it works really well for somethings and not at all for others. Great for cookies, but don’t even bother if you’re making brownies (at least not the boxed kind). In this case, though, the equivalent to one egg did the trick, holding the meatloaf together nicely.
It’s really easy to overmix meatloaf. The best way to avoid that is to just use your hands to mix it. It’s a little messy but super effective. Just make sure everything is well-distributed. Then shape it into a loaf and put it into a baking dish.
I like to add some chopped up potatoes and carrots around it to make it a one-dish meal. Cover with foil and bake for about an hour at 375.
My mom’s meatloaf never had a glaze on it (like I said, it’s was really good, but it was simple), but I decided to try to make a simple one. Two tablespoons of barbecue sauce mixed with 1 teaspoon of honey and a pinch of salt seemed like al I would really need. Turns out I was right! Once the meatloaf is done, brush the glaze over the top and broil it for about 5 minutes, or until the glaze is sizzling but not burnt. There’s a fair bit of sugar, so watch it – it will burn easily!
Let it rest for about 5 minutes or so. Slice and serve! Emily, our oldest, likes to put ketchup on everything while Lennox, our middle one, is a purist. Both of them, though, raved about it. They each got seconds (Emily tried for thirds!). Lennox, who doesn’t like any meat other than chicken and hot dogs, ate two helpings! Needless to say, this is going into our meal rotation for sure.
There is no shortage of meatloaf recipes out there, but hopefully, this one helps you make a delicious meal that is safe for your family. It can easily be adjusted to your family’s tastes. Let me know how it turns out, and I would love to hear about any variations you try!
- 1 1/2 lbs ground beef
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- 1/2 bell pepper, diced
- 1/4-1/2 yellow onion
- 1/2 tsp vegetable oil or Earth Balance
- 1 clove of garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup barbecue sauce
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Ener-G egg replacer, equivalent to one egg
For the glaze:
- 2 tsp barbecue sauce
- 1 tsp honey
- pinch of salt
- Slice the onion. Cook over low heat in a skillet with the oil/Earth Balance and a big pinch of salt. Cook slowly so the onions caramelize rather than sauté.
- Using your hands and a large bowl, mix ground beef with all other ingedients (except for the glaze ingredients). Be sure everything is well-integrated, but be sure not to overmix.
- Shape into a loaf and place in a baking dish. If desired, surround with chopped potatoes and carrots.
- Cover with foil and bake at 375 for about 1 hour.
- In a small bowl, stir together glaze ingredients.
- Brush glaze over meatloaf and broil (uncovered) for 5 minutes or so.
- Let rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving.