Monday, September 26, 2011

Buttermilk Meatloaf: A Crowd Pleaser!

There are countless wonderful meatloaf recipes out there, and this is just one. Meatloaf is one of those quintessential American dishes that many consider ultimate "comfort food," and when you are enjoying a real good meatloaf it sure makes you feel good! One of the obstacles to preparing a meatloaf is thinking about ways to insure that it won't dry out during the baking process. A dry, crumbly meatloaf is not comfort food - it's like a bad burger that all the ketchup in the world won't fix. It makes sense to me that in order to prevent it from drying out, extra moisture should be built in from the get-go.

I like to use ground round or chuck as the primary meat. I think it has enough fat to contribute to the moisture and also has great flavor. I augment the ground beef with some ground pork, which also brings moisture and balances out the beefy flavor a bit. I go with a two-to-one ratio with the meat. In this recipe, I use 1 1/2 pound ground round, and 3/4 pound ground pork. If you wanted to, you could use a pork sausage of some kind.

The buttermilk, high in fat and rich flavor, provides a lot of the moisture. Soaked up by the breadcrumbs (I like to use panko, Japanese-style, breadcrumbs), the buttermilk is distributed throughout the meatloaf. The great thing about meatloaf is that you can add in the things that you like best. Maybe you want to put in some spinach, or mushrooms, or olives, or whatever - add them in!! This dish allows one to be creative, which is always a plus! I put in canned diced tomatoes with chili peppers (like a Ro-Tel), because I like how tomato flavor works with meatloaf, and the tomatoes have a lot of added moisture - so again, another element to help prevent the meatloaf from drying out.

You can also have fun with the glaze you put on top of your meatloaf. Use ketchup, chili sauce, a little hot sauce, or go with a mustard sweetened with brown sugar or honey - lots of possibilities. I find that two coats of glaze is best - one at the beginning and then reapplying halfway through the baking.

And as good as the meatloaf is when it comes out of the oven, the leftovers are even better! It's always good to make a little more than you need so that the next day you can have sandwiches. Cook once and eat twice!

Buttermilk Meatloaf
1 1/2 pounds ground round
3/4 pound ground pork
1 cup buttermilk
1 large onion, diced and browned in butter
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 tsp Worchestershire sauce
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 can DRAINED diced tomatoes with chili peppers (like Ro-Tel)

Glaze for meatloaf
3/4 Chili Sauce (or Ketchup)
2 TBSP BBQ Sauce
a couple of shakes of hot sauce - I use Sriricha

Preheat oven to 350. In a small skillet, brown onion in butter (about 4 TBSP) until onion is slightly brown and soft. Remove from heat and let cool. In a large bowl, place ground meats and and all other ingredients. Lightly mix with fingers or fork. Do not squeeze mixture - this will make for a tougher texture. Mix to combine all ingredients throughout. On a baking sheet (or a 9x13 baking dish) that has been sprayed with non-stick spray, transfer meat mixture and shape into loaf. I like to try to keep the top flat as it holds the glaze and it a good shape for sandwiches. Once shaped, apply one coat of glaze to the entire outside of the meatloaf. Put in oven for 30 minutes. Remove, coat meatloaf with glaze again, and put back in oven for another 30 minutes. Remove meatloaf and let rest for 10 minutes prior to cutting. Enjoy!!

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