This classic meatloaf recipe is one of the first recipes we put on Simply Recipes over ten years ago. Meatloaf is one of my father's favorite things to cook and anytime we kids know he's making his homemade meatloaf, we make our way to my parent's house for dinner.
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My dad's trick to meatloaf? 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.
Homemade Meatloaf Is Worth the Time
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. Meatball meatloaf.
It may look like the sofritto is a time consuming extra step for meatloaf, but you can easily put the vegetables in a food processor or mini chopper to speed up the prep time. The smaller mince size that you can get with the food processor will also help the meatloaf hold together better.
How Long to Cook Meatloaf
Since meatloaf is quite dense packed into a loaf pan, it takes a little while to bake. It also needs to be baked at a relatively low temperature so the outside doesn't finish baking and start drying out before the center is done.
Bake this meatloaf for about an hour at 350°F, and then check it with a meat thermometer inserted into the center of the meatloaf -- the center should be at least 155°F when done.
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Italian sausage makes a difference in this meatloaf 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.
Save prep time by roughly chopping the celery, carrot, onion, green onions, and garlic and pulsing them in a food processor or mini-chopper to get them finely chopped. You can also use a food processor to make the breadcrumbs: take a couple slices of fresh bread and pulse in until you have crumbs.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup finely chopped onion
1 rib celery, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped green onion
3 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
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 1/2 pounds ground beef chuck
3/4 pound 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, slightly beaten
1/3 cup minced fresh parsley
Preheat oven to 350°F, with a rack in the middle of the oven.
Cook the vegetables:
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 the ketchup. Cook for another minute and remove from heat to cool.
Make the meatloaf mixture:
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.
Place in loaf pan, cover with ketchup:
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.
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.
Cut into thick slices to serve. The meatloaf makes great leftovers, just chill and reheat. Slices are good in sandwiches as well.