My 4-year-old son sat at the table, arms folded across his chest, a mutinous scowl radiating his displeasure. Glaring at the plate in front of him, he growled, “Meatlope. I HATE meatlope!”
Honestly, I didn’t blame him. Even a healthy dosing of ketchup couldn’t make the dry crumbling loaf any more palatable.
That was 17 years ago and since then I’ve been on a quest to change his mind about meatloaf. I finally succeeded with a recipe that’s both tasty and easy to prepare. Now, not only can Alex say meatloaf correctly, he tries to drop by the house when he knows I’ll be making it.
Of course, I had to try a lot of recipes before finally landing on a winner. While meatloaf is as American as apple pie and just as simple to make, it’s amazing how a few ingredients can be combined with spectacular – or awful – results.
To make meatloaf all you need is some kind of ground meat, a filler and a couple of eggs. In my meaty experiments, I’ve tried ground beef, ground turkey and ground pork – and a combination thereof – before finally settling on lean ground sirloin. The sirloin’s texture and flavor best pleases my husband and four sons.
I also discovered the filler can make or break the dish. I’ve used crushed saltines, bread crumbs and rolled oats with varying degrees of success. The true test of a good meatloaf is that it’s moist and firm and won’t crumble when sliced.
A few years ago, a friend sent me a recipe she’d discovered online at Kraft.com, and I finally found the dish that would become a family favorite. The recipe calls for a box of stuffing mix as filler and that simple ingredient proved to make all the difference as far as flavor and texture.
It also doesn’t hurt that it calls for barbecue sauce. My kids put barbecue sauce on everything but their breakfast cereal.
I usually serve it with the traditional side of baked potatoes, but if I have time I’ll whip up some garlic mashed potatoes. A green salad or other vegetable completes the meal. But make no mistake: the real star is the Easy Pleasing Meatloaf. After all, it made a meatloaf lover out of a “meatlope” hater.
Easy Pleasing Meatloaf
2 pounds lean ground beef (I use ground sirloin and usually use 3 pounds instead of two)
1 cup water
1 package Stove Top Stuffing (I use cornbread, but any variety will do)
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup bottled barbecue sauce (I use Sweet Baby Ray’s Sweet-n-Spicy)
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 9-x-13 pan with foil and spray foil with nonstick cooking spray. (The original Kraft recipe doesn’t include this step, but my friend included it. I think it makes for easier cleanup).
Mix meat, water, stuffing, eggs and ¼ cup of the barbecue sauce in a bowl until blended. (I’ve read you can do this is a large zip-top bag for those of you who hate getting ground beef under your fingernails, but I do it the old-fashioned way: with my hands.)
Shape into an oval loaf, place in baking dish. Brush with remaining barbecue sauce. (I don’t brush it or measure it. I squeeze it liberally from the bottle). Bake 1 hour or until cooked through.