My Meatloaf

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Notes Until recently, meatloaf was often viewed as being ordinary by food professionals and "gourmet" home cooks. Although meatloaf is now touted as "chic" in trendy restaurants focusing on American cuisine, many home cooks still hesitate to serve this truly comforting entrée when entertaining. What a shame! This meatloaf recipe will fill your home with a sensational aroma and fill your mouth with extraordinary flavor, whether you're one of those secret admirers or an out-of-the-closet meatloaf fan. Although I specify a combination of ground beef and veal, feel free to substitute all ground turkey (mix dark and light meat), only ground beef (round, chuck or top sirloin), beef and pork--or a combination of all four. For best results, ask the butcher to grind the meats together for the best balance of flavors and try to assemble the meatloaf early in the day (or as much as one day ahead) so the mixture binds together well. To complete a comforting menu, serve Mashed New Potato Casserole (), omitting the Swiss cheese in either the meatloaf or the potatoes, and Sautéed Fresh Corn (). And leftover meatloaf makes the most fabulous sandwiches when thinly sliced and piled high on toasted slices of Crusty Deli Rye Bread ().
SPECIAL EQUIPMENT
Wide blending fork or large serving fork
9x13-inch glass baking dish

Ingredients

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup minced yellow onion

2 large cloves garlic, minced

1 green bell pepper, seeded and minced

3 slices homemade-type white bread, crusts removed and the bread cut into very small cubes

1/4 cup milk

2 pounds ground beef

1 pound ground veal (preferably ground together)

1/2 cup prepared chili sauce* plus 1 bottle (12 ounces), for topping

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 cup chopped Swiss cheese (optional)

3 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten

salt

freshly ground pepper

Preparation
1) To sauté vegetables: Heat a 10-inch skillet over medium heat and, when hot, add olive oil. When oil is hot, add chopped onion and garlic and sauté, 3 to 5 minutes. Add green pepper and saute until softened and fragrant, about 3 minutes more. Remove from heat and let cool.

2) To assemble meatloaf: In a small bowl, soak bread cubes in milk. Place ground meat in a large mixing bowl and add the 1/2 cup chili sauce and all the remaining ingredients (except chili sauce for the topping). Gently squeeze bread cubes to remove excess milk and add bread to the bowl along with the cooled vegetables. Combine ingredients gently using a wide blending fork or a large serving fork. Avoid mashing or squeezing the mixture, which tends to result in a tough meatloaf. Transfer mixture to a 9x13-inch baking dish and, using your hands, gently shape into a freeform loaf. Smooth the top with your hands and sprinkle generously with more freshly ground black pepper.

3) To top and bake: Pour and spread the entire bottle of chili sauce over the loaf, covering the top and sides completely. Place loaf into a cold oven, turn on heat and bake at 350°F for 1 hour (375°F if not using a glass dish). Remove from oven, cover loosely with aluminum foil and let meatloaf sit undisturbed for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, warm a serving platter.

4) To serve: Insert 2 turning spatulas under opposite ends of meatloaf, so that they meet close to the center. Carefully lift and transfer the loaf to the warmed platter. Slice and serve hot or at room temperature. Or enjoy chilled directly from the refrigerator.

 
* See section on Staples
Time Management Tips
The listed vegetables may be chopped or minced 1 day ahead and kept refrigerated in separate, well-covered bowls.
The meatloaf can be assembled totally, but not topped or baked, 1 day ahead and kept refrigerated well covered. Bake straight from the refrigerator following the prescribed baking time.

Yield
serves 8

 
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