Monday, March 22, 2010

Judy's Meatloaf - my new "reach-for" recipe for classic meatloaf

We all (secretly) think we have the unrivaled meatloaf recipe.  But - I was wrong.  Whenever I served meatloaf, my son-in-law would speak of his mother’s meatloaf in hushed tones.  So I asked him to make her recipe for my birthday dinner a month ago.  I am now sufficiently humbled - this IS the new champion, go-to recipe I’ll reach for.

Judy Baker is one fantastic cook.  Just ask my son-in-law.  This is her recipe, and I’m so happy she was willing to share it.  

No - there are no strange ingredients, or hidden techniques.  It isn’t complicated, difficult, or secret.  That’s what I love about it.  
But it does have two things going for it that I’ve never used in my meatloaf.  1) Carrots.  2) Great sauce.

Grated carrots break up the sometimes stiff texture meatloaf often develops.  
Judy’s sauce is so simple I had to check it twice.  The mustard (if there IS a secret ingredient) has to be the key.  It’s just right.  Yum...
I think one problem with my meatloaf in the past is overmixing.  Judy mixes hers by hand.  I’m a wimp - I use my Bosch mixer, but I’ve learned to just barely combine the ingredients - not treat it like yeast dough with endless mixing.  

I have a book I use when I can’t tell what I’m doing wrong - “The Perfect Recipe” by Pam Anderson.  I checked out the meatloaf section - and Judy’s recipe meets almost all her criteria.  (Judy could have written this book!)
    *Meatloaf has to have a filler to break up the coarse, dense texture.
    *Crackers, quick-cooking oatmeal, and fresh bread crumbs work.
    *Regular milk, buttermilk, and yogurt are the liquids that work best.
    *Don’t use a loaf pan, or the glaze will be diluted with meat juices.
    *Baking it free-form in a shallow pan lets it brown & the glaze works.

Her recipe is so simple, but, being a complicated person, I changed it a touch...
    I used my food processor attachment to grate the carrots first, then the onion.  No tears - I love that.  I will gladly give up dishwasher space!

    I used my Bosch mixer to combine the meatloaf.  I just have to watch myself and not overmix - I’m not making bread you know.

    I've adapted this recipe for serving fewer people.  Check out this post (HERE) for mini-meatloaves you can store in the freezer for later.  

    I doubled the recipe, and stored half of it as mini-meatloaves, the other half large enough to feed my entire crew next time they are home (spur of the moment, which is usually the case...)  And make sure you LABEL whatever you put in the freezer... (with baking instructions, if you're like me and misplace your recipe)

Check out this great recipe, with lots of step-by-step photos & links at:

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