Classic Meatloaf

My sweetheart came over to my parents the other day for dinner. He wasn’t exactly thrilled when he heard we were having meatloaf, and insisted on taking only a very small piece. All that changed the minute he took his first bite. (You should have seen the expression on his face—that look of amazement? priceless.)

He couldn’t stop raving about how good it was as he went back for seconds, thirds, and fourths. (Good thing the loaf feeds a lot!)

This meatloaf is one of the first recipes we put on Simply Recipes ten years ago. It’s one of my father’s favorite things to cook and anytime we kids know he’s making it, we make our way to my parent’s house for dinner. My dad’s trick? He mixes Italian pork sausage (half sweet, half spicy) in with ground beef. The original recipe came from an old issue of Gourmet (April 1994) and my father has been changing it over the years to his taste (including using Italian sausage instead of plain ground pork).

It’s no ordinary meatloaf. It takes a little extra prep time to make the “sofritto” base of minced carrots, onions, celery, and garlic, but it is so so worth it! Like a giant Italian meatball, in loaf form.

From the recipe archive. First posted in 2004.

  • Prep: 20 minutes
  • Cook: 1 hour, 10 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 to 6, with plenty for leftovers for meatloaf sandwiches.

Italian sausage makes a difference in this recipe! We use a combination of spicy and sweet, but it you only have one, choose sweet Italian sausage. If you don't have access to spicy ground pork or Italian sausage, mix in a half teaspoon each of fennel seeds, Italian seasoning, and hot sauce into regular ground pork.

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 cup of finely chopped onion
  • 1 celery rib, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup of finely chopped green onion, including the green onion greens
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 Tbsp)
  • 2 teaspoon salt (use 1 1/2 teaspoons if using Italian sausage)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2/3 cup ketchup, divided 1/3 and 1/3
  • 1 1/2 pounds of ground beef (chuck)
  • 3/4 pound of spicy ground pork sausage or Italian sausage (a mix of sweet and hot if you are using links)
  • 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
  • 2 large eggs, beaten slightly
  • 1/3 cup minced fresh parsley leaves

Method

1 Preheat oven to 350° F, with a rack in the middle of the oven.

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2 Melt the butter in a large, thick-bottomed skillet, on medium heat. When the butter starts to foam, add the finely chopped onions, celery, carrot, green onions and garlic to the pan and cook for  5 minutes. Cover the pan and cook for another 5 minutes, until the carrots are tender, stirring every so often. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add the Worcestershire sauce and one-third cup of ketchup. Cook for another minute and remove from heat to cool.

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3 Once the vegetables have cooled to the touch, place them in a large bowl with the ground beef, Italian sausage, eggs, breadcrumbs and parsley. Use your (very clean) hands to mix them together until everything is evenly distributed.

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4 Place the meatloaf mixture into a loaf pan (either 4x8 or 5x9) and press to make compact in the pan. Or you can form a free-standing loaf onto a rimmed baking pan. Cover the meatloaf mixture with the rest of the ketchup.

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5 Bake for 1 hour at 350°F, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the center of the meatloaf reads 155°F. Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes. Then use a metal spatula to gently lift the meatloaf out of the loaf pan to a serving plate.

Make thick slices to serve. The meatloaf makes great leftovers, just chill and reheat. Slices are good in sandwiches as well.

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