The real title of this post should be “Mom’s Meatloaf,” as this is the very same recipe I grew up eating as a child. A perennial favorite in our household, few meatloaves deliver in the way this barbecue sauce-topped rendition does. The epitome of comfort, my Mom would be the first to tell you that this dish is “hard to screw up.” In fact, it’s the simplicity of this recipe that makes it a true standout in my mind. Perfect for company, yet quick and easy enough for a weeknight meal, this tender and juicy meatloaf comes together in no time and feeds a crowd for next to nothing. Covered with a sweet, tangy homemade barbecue sauce, this meatloaf is sure to please even the pickiest of eaters as few can resist it’s sticky, ketchup-like topping. If you love meatloaf but can’t justify the saturated fat, substitute ground turkey for a version that is just as tasty and quite a bit healthier — you’ll barely notice the difference. As good cold as it is served warm, this recipe also makes for a killer meatloaf sandwich. So, in a world filled with so much bad meatloaf, do yourself a favor and go with a tried-and-true recipe that works. Your family, friends and significant others will thank you.
The beauty of this recipe is in its simplicity. I like to briefly saute the onion prior to adding it to the loaf mixture in an effort to bring out a bit of its sweet character and remove a bit of its rawness. I use panko instead of traditional breadcrumbs as I find their addition creates a more tender, lighter textured final meatloaf. The barbecue sauce in this recipe is what makes this version a true winner. I’ve outlined the basic technique below, but feel free to add any of your favorite ingredients to this simple sauce. It will still appear to be a bit thin when added to the top of the meatloaf prior to baking, but don’t worry; it will thicken substantially during the hour and a half bake time in the oven. Once cooked, the meatloaf will have given up some of its juices. This is normal. Allow the meatloaf to rest, as this will ensure that it reabsorbs some of those precious, flavorful juices. If you are inclined to do so, defat the accumulated juices and reduce them in a small saucepan over low heat until slightly thickened for a killer gravy to top your sliced meatloaf. Finally, feel free to use a combination of beef, pork and veal or go all beef or turkey if you want. Either way, it’ll still turn out solid.
- 1 medium onion, finely minced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1 14-ounce can tomato puree, divided
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 4 teaspoons Kosher Salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/3 cup chopped parsley
- 2 tablespoons mustard
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2-3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon chipotle pepper powder or BBQ seasoning
- Preheat the oven to 350°
- Heat the olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat until hot and sweat the onion, stirring occasionally until just translucent and no longer raw, about 5 minutes. Transfer the onion to a plate and allow to cool.
- In a large bowl, combine the beef, pork, breadcrumbs, cooled onions, half the tomato puree, eggs, salt, pepper, thyme and parsley. Using clean hands, mix the ingredients thoroughly until well combined. Lightly pack the mixture into a greased loaf pan and set aside while you prepare the barbecue sauce.
- In a small saucepan, add the remaining tomato puree along with the mustard, cider vinegar, brown sugar, and chipotle powder. Season the barbecue sauce to taste with salt and pepper and bring to a gentle simmer and allow to thicken slightly, about 5-8 minutes. Remove the sauce from the heat and allow to cool a bit.
- Pour the warm barbecue sauce on top of the prepared meatloaf and bake in the oven for 1 1/2 hours, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the meatloaf registers 150°. Remove the loaf from the oven and place it on a rack to rest for at least 15-20 minutes. Once rested, pour off excess juices (setting aside for gravy if desired), remove the loaf from the pan and slice into 1-inch thick slices. Serve at once.