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Whenever I’m thinking of a dish to make for company, I always go to meatloaf first. Not that there aren’t more exciting things to make for dinner, but meatloaf is that perfect dish to make to appease all appetites.
On a recent weeknight, I was having guests over that all had certain dietary restrictions. One was pregnant, the other couldn’t eat spicy foods or dairy-rich foods, and my partner likes nothing but chicken breasts or ground beef.
After trying to think of something fun and new to try with chicken, I decided against type (because don’t we all eat enough chicken as it is?) and made meatloaf instead. It’s one of those dishes that you never think to make for company because you might think it a little homely. But in my experience, it’s one of the few dishes that people truly fawn over; it’s so unexpected and virtually everyone loves it.
This recipe, in particular, is a winner because it can be made a day ahead of time, and then when you come in from work, simply popped in the oven, and in an hour, you’ve got dinner. A flavorful mix of onions, garlic, herbs, and Worcestershire sauce are cooked first, and then cooled off. Once mixed with the meat and binders, it’s formed into a loaf (this recipes works great as burgers too), and wrapped up until you need it. A slathering of ketchup on top keeps it moist and offers that taste of familiarity to the dish you’d forgotten you loved so much.
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Serves 6 to 8
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped rosemary leaves
Kosher salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon tomato paste
6 tablespoons chicken stock
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 1/2 pounds ground beef
3/4 cup plain breadcrumbs
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup ketchup
- Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, thyme, rosemary, and a generous seasoning of salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent and just beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste, and cook, stirring to incorporate, until lightly caramelized, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the chicken stock and Worcestershire sauce; let cool to room temperature.
- Place the ground beef in a large bowl, along with the breadcrumbs and eggs, and then pour in the cooled onion mixture. Using your hands, toss mixture until evenly combined. Transfer to a foil-lined 9- x 13-inch baking pan, and form into a flat loaf, leaving about 1 inch of free space around the sides. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 12 hours, if making the next day.
- Heat oven to 325°F. If meatloaf has been refrigerated, let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Uncover, and spread the top with the ketchup in an even layer. Place meatloaf in oven, and bake until cooked through and an instant-read thermometer reads 160°F, about 1 hour. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving
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