The Clara Project: A new take on old-fashioned meatloaf.

I suppose you can divide people into groups any way you want: Democrats or Republicans, East Siders or West Siders, UC fans or Xavier fans, meatloaf fans or non-meatloaf fans. I, for one, am a meatloaf fan. Love it. Give me a fat slice of juicy meatloaf and a pile of mashed potatoes, and I’m a happy girl.

So I wanted to again share this fantastic old-fashioned meatloaf recipe from The Clara Project, which I’ve updated with a simple twist. Some folks don’t like this classic comfort dish because it’s too dry, or because it takes too long to bake. But by forming the meatloaf mixture into individual servings, you reduce the baking time and get a result that’s juicy and delicious. Plus, this is a great stock-the-freezer recipe: You can wrap the meatloaves in foil; place them in a zip-top freezer bag and have an easy main dish ready to bake when you need a quick dinner.

old-fashioned meatloaf with ketchup glaze

(serves 12)

1 lb. ground chuck
1 lb. ground pork
2 slices bacon, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1 cup finely chopped onion
3 cups fresh fine breadcrumbs (one hamburger bun = 1 cup of fresh breadcrumbs)
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
1 cup milk
2 eggs
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper

1/4 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. steak sauce or Worcestershire

Into a large mixing bowl, crumble the ground chuck and ground pork; add finely chopped bacon. In a medium sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat until it shimmers; add chopped celery and onion. Season with salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are translucent, 6 or 7 minutes. Remove from heat and cool. Drain the tomatoes (reserve the liquid for another recipe) and chop them roughly; drain off any remaining liquid. In a small bowl, whisk the 2 eggs together. To the meat mixture, add the sautéed vegetables, fresh breadcrumbs, tomatoes, milk, eggs and salt and pepper. Use your hands to gently toss the ingredients to combine, like you'd toss a salad.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Use a half-cup measure to scoop out generous portions of the mixture; gently form each portion into a ball; you'll have 12 meatballs. (At this point, you may opt to freeze some or all of the meatballs: Place meatballs on a baking sheet lined with waxed paper, cover with foil and place the tray in the freezer for at least an hour or until meatballs are firm. Transfer them to a zip-top freezer bag and store up to 6 months.)

Spray a baking rack with cooking spray and place it on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Place the meatballs on the rack, about 1 inch apart. Make the glaze by stirring together the ketchup, brown sugar and steak sauce or Worcestershire; spoon some glaze over each meatball. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until a meat thermometer inserted into the center of a meatball registers 160 to 165 degrees. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let meatballs rest for 5 minutes before serving.

3 thoughts on “The Clara Project: A new take on old-fashioned meatloaf.

  1. Bryn,
    This is even more clever than making individual meatloaves in a muffin tin–no need to wash the crud out of the pan afterwards.