Glazed Little Red Meatloaf

You know what they say about invention being the product of necessity?  Well, I had a pound of ground beef, and some sorry-looking vegetables that were on their way out the door.  Something told me that a meatloaf was in order! 
Meatloaf can be wonderful, homey, comfort food that you just dig into and feel satisfied beyond words after eating.Or, it can be dry, bland (or overly seasoned), chewy, tough, and about a dozen other unappealing adjectives.  I tried to solve all of these issues with my recipe and I think I did a pretty good job!  You will have to make it to see for yourself.

Ingredients:
Meatloaf:

1 lb ground beef (80/20 is preferable, but definitely no leaner than 85/15)
1 large carrot, diced fine
1 large rib of celery, diced fine
1 medium onion, diced, you guessed it, fine (Yellow or red is fine)
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tsp dried thyme
1 piece of white sandwich bread, crusts removed
1/4 cup milk
1 large egg
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp tomato paste
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 tsp oil
1 tsp butter
salt and papper

Glaze:
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. ketchup
1.5 tbsp. cider vinegar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp. brown sugar
pinch of cayenne pepper
**I know these ingredient lists look long, but if you actually take a look at what’s on them, it’s almost all things that you have on hand already.

Because I know the importance and value of leftover meatloaf, I will tell you that this recipe makes enough for 2 with leftovers, or enough for 3 or 4 without.  It’s a little guy; hence, the little red meatloaf!  I’d wager that you could easily double this recipe, but you may have to adjust your cooking times.

Step 1:
Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Melt the butter and oil together over medium-low heat, then sauté the carrot, onion, and celery with a tsp of salt for 6-7 seven minutes, until they are softened and translucent.  We’re not looking to brown here.
Then add the garlic and thyme and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant.  Remove from the heat and set aside.

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Step 2:
Put the piece of bread in a large bowl and pour the milk over it.  Mash this up with a spoon or fork.
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Looks gross and unnecessary, doesn’t it?  Well, this mixture is called a panade, and as that milk-soaked bread distributes throughout the meatloaf, it’s going to ensure that it stays moist.  It’s just as effective in meatballs too!To this bowl, add the egg, Worcestershire, tomato paste, Dijon mustard, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper.  Stir to combine.Step 3:
Add the vegetables from the pan to the bowl, followed by the ground beef and the breadcrumbs.  This is where you want to mix the meatloaf together, preferably with your hands.  It’s pretty critical that you are gentle in this process.  Don’t compact the meat or overwork it; this is what produces that tough, chewy loaf in the end product.  Instead you want to use your fingers to mix until everything is just combined.

Step 4:
Turn the mixture out onto the parchment, and shape into a loaf.  This is where the parchment comes in handy.  Bring the sides of the parchment up and use them to gently press the meat into the shape you want.

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Bake for 20 minutes at 350, then turn the oven up to 400 degrees and cook for an additional 15 minutes, or until the meat registers about 140 degrees, if you have an instaread thermometer (which I recommend having in your kitchen!).
Step 5:
While the meat is cooking, you want to prepare the glaze, which is super easy.  Simply add all of the glaze ingredients into a small saucepan and whisk to combine.  Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes, until the mixture has darkened, and thickened.  A good trick is to hold the pan upright, and if the glaze doesn’t slide down the bottom but clings to it, you are there.
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Step 6:
Just set the glaze aside, and once the meatloaf has cooked for those initial increments at 350 and 400, pull it out and paint the top and sides of the meatloaf with the glaze.  Then crank the broiler on and bake for about 3 minutes, until the glaze has darkened even more and formed a tantalizingly sticky exterior.
Pull the meatloaf out and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes before digging in!
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This meatloaf has great beefy flavor, with subtle kicks of the Dijon, Worcestershire, garlic, and veggies in the background.  The glaze adds a great tangy, sweet contrast, and actually if you don’t feel like making it yourself, substitute your favorite barbeque sauce.  Or even just ketchup and brown sugar would work fine.  Just serve it up with mashed potatoes and a nice glass of wine, and I don’t think comfort food gets more comforting than that.~Lauren
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