There is nothing more basic than the meatloaf. Except that there are hundreds of ways to make it and another thousand ways for it to fall apart. Mine is very basic, tastes fantastic and doesn't fall apart. What more could someone ask for?
Meatloaf is one of the meals that Mikey requests the most often. I don't mind, it's something I can mix up early in the day and stick in the refrigerator until I'm ready to bake it. You don't need to make it ahead of time. I like to because I can have all the dirty dishes washed up and be able to relax during dinner knowing almost everything is done.
This is going to be one of those recipes that I will have to stop and think about how much of something I'm using. I just throw things in a bowl and mix it up. But here goes:
1 1/2 pounds ground beef (use a mid fat range, not the lean but not the 80/20 either or your loaf will split like mine did tonight)
2 large eggs
1 Tablespoon onion flakes
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
3/4 cup bread crumbs
1/2 + 1/4 cup ketchup
Why onion flakes? If you like the taste of onion but don't want your meatloaf to fall apart these work perfect. There is enough moisture (as you will see) to hydrate the onions.
Mikey loves pepper! If you're not as much of a fan you can use half the amount.
Bread crumbs. You can buy it in a can at the store or make your own very easy. When your bread goes stale just take the slices and lay on a cooking rack, cover with a towel and let them dry. Mine are usually dry the next morning. Alternately you can place them in the oven on the lowest setting or use your dehydrator. And I do that depending on the amount of bread I have.
Find an oblong pan. I use a Pyrex 7x11 pan. You don't want to use a loaf pan because the fat needs somewhere to go. (another step to make sure your loaf doesn't fall apart.) There is no need to grease it but if you want to save clean up time line the pan with heavy duty aluminum foil. I don't because meatloaf has a tendency to take some of the foil with it.
Take the rings off your right hand and just start squishing the mixture through your fingers until it's well mixed. The consistency will be moist and slimy but enough to be thick enough to hold it's shape.
Cover the top with the remaining ketchup. You can use more or less depending on your tastes. I am not a big ketchup eater but meatloaf should be a little tangy. If Mikey were making this he would layer bacon over the top.
Now you can put it in the fridge until later or place it in the oven turned on to 375F. No need to preheat. (If something has a cook time of longer than 20 minutes there isn't a need to waste energy preheating unless the top might burn during the preheating.)
Bake the meatloaf for 1 hour and 15 minutes. The ideal time to cook a meatloaf for is until it reaches 160F degrees internal temperature. 160 degrees ensures that all bacteria have been killed off. It is really important to let your meatloaf rest for at least 20 minutes before cutting it. No matter how pretty your loaf it will fall apart if you cut it fresh from the oven.
For tonight's dinner we are going to have both whipped potatoes and rice. One of those nights when we can't agree on the starch so we do both. Tonight the whipped potatoes are made with sour cream, butter, milk, salt and pepper. I'm thinking green for vegetable. I don't do fancy side dishes, just the basics. We never eat as much as I make and I don't see the need. I'll leave that up to the restaurants.