American Meat Loaf


Meat loaf was one of the family favorites during my childhood until one day, in our eagerness, we took it from the oven a little too early, and all ended up with food poisoning for the next few days. So by all means, cook it and enjoy it, just give it the time it needs.

This recipe serves about 8.  Breadcrumbs are often added to minced meat dishes, not only as a ‘stretcher’, but also as a ‘lightener’.  So never waste the ends of loaves, instead turn them into breadcrumbs and keep in the freezer, handy for when you need them.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp, vegetable oil,
  • 2 large onions, chopped,
  • 2 large celery sticks, chopped,
  • 1 large green pepper, seeded and chopped,
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed,
  • 1 kg lean minced beef,
  • 75 g fresh breadcrumbs (white or wholemeal)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten,
  • 227 g can chopped tomatoes,
  • 4 tbsp tomato ketchup,
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180 °C (gas 4).  Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onions, celery, green pepper and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes over a medium heat until they begin to soften.  Transfer vegetables to a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add the beef, breadcrumbs and egg to the vegetables, seasoning with salt and pepper and knead the mixture with your hands, watching out for the hot vegetables.
  3. Combine the tomatoes with their juice and the ketchup in a small bowl.  Add half to the meat loaf mixture and mix again.
  4. Transfer the mixture to a lightly greased loaf tin, mounding it slightly in the center.  Make a length-ways groove down the center with the side of your hand and pour the remaining tomato mixture into the groove.
  5. Bake for 75 minutes or until cooked through to the center.  If you have a meat thermometer, it should read 71°C when the loaf is cooked.  Allow to stand for 10 minutes before slicing, using a sharp knife.

Serve with pasta and a green vegetable, or a selection of side salads.

If you don’t have a loaf tin, a baking dish or roasting tin will do.  Just mold the mixture into a loaf shape about 25 x 18 cm.

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