Monday, July 20, 2009

Killer Meatloaf with Sweet Barbecue Sauce

My Venture into Classic American Food:
This recipe is a variation of my mother's. We had meatloaf all the time when we were growing up. It was a frequently used weapon in my mother's culinary arsenal – so much so that when my sisters and I would hear that we were having meatloaf, we'd all shriek in unison, "Meatloaf AAAAGAIN?!"   Now that I'm older, I realize that kids will complain regardless of what you fix them. In fact, I'm sure last night at dinner, some rich kid somewhere complained to his mother, "Foie gras with truffle mousse and tangerine gelee AAAAGAIN?!"

Today, I think back to Meatloaf Mondays with fond memories. I have never had any other meatloaf that even comes close to the mother's. She never put a sauce on the top like I do mine but it was delicious just the same. We always had leftovers and the meatloaf sandwiches the next day were to-die-for. The recipe below makes a lot so it will easily feed a hungry family. To use up the leftovers, just butter a couple pieces of bread, slap on some cold meatloaf, and throw the sandwich into a panini press or sandwich maker (butter facing outward) and, a few minutes later, you'll be laughing at the rich people who got stuck eating leftover foie gras. If you don't have a panini press or sandwich maker, just use a skillet and cook your masterpeice as if you were making a grilled cheese sandwich. Yum! You have to make this meatloaf and make it often. Your kids might complain now but, 20 years from now, they'll be begging you to make it again. Enjoy – and happy loafing!

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Killer Meatloaf with Sweet BBQ Sauce
(Printable Version)

1 sleeve of saltine crackers, pulverized into crumbs
1 large onion, roughly cut into large chunks
4 cloves garlic
2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 TBSP liquid smoke
Dash of cayenne (optional)
2 eggs, beaten
1 TBSP kosher salt (or 1/2 TBSP of table salt)
1/2 TBSP black pepper
2 1/2 lbs lean ground beef

Preheat the oven to 350F. Add the crackers to a food processor and pulse until they are fine crumbs. Add the cracker crumbs to a large mixing bowl. Wipe out the food processor bowl and add the onion and garlic. Process until liquefied (about 30 seconds). Add about 1/3 of the onion mixture to a medium saucepan. This will be for the barbecue sauce. Add the remaining onion mixture to the cracker crumbs, which will be used for the meatloaves.

Sauce Mixture:
To the onion mixture in the saucepan, add the ketchup, brown sugar, liquid smoke, and cayenne (if using). Stir to combine but do not start heating it yet.

Meatloaf Mixture:
Remove one cup of the sauce from the saucepan and add it to the cracker crumbs. Yes – the meatloaf is going to have some of the sauce baked right in! Also to the cracker crumbs, add the beaten eggs, salt, and pepper. Stir everything together. Add the ground beef and mix with your hands until thoroughly combined. Split the meat mixture in half because it will be used to form 2 loaves. Spray a sheet pan (with sides) with cooking spray. Add both mounds of meatloaf mix to the sheet pan and form 2 loaves in oval shapes about 1 1/2" thick. Smooth out the top and sides. Bake for 45 minutes (with no sauce on top).

When the meatloaf has been in the oven for about 30 minutes, start heating the saucepan of barbecue sauce over medium heat. As it heats, you will need to stir it often or it will splatter all over the place. When it has starting bubbling well, reduce the heat to low or medium-low and continue to stir it periodically. After the meat loaves have been in the oven for 45 minutes, add the hot barbecue sauce to the tops of each loaf. Return to the oven and continue baking about 20 to 25 minutes longer or until the loaves are well browned and the sauce has thickened. Pull the sheet pan out of the oven and elevate one side so that the excess oil flows to one side of the pan. Allow the meatloaves to rest a few minutes before cutting into them. Meat loaf sandwiches the next day are to-die-for!

Advice for Busy Mom's:
Before going to work in the morning, mix the sauce and meatloaf per the above instructions. Leave the meatloaf mixture in the mixing bowl, cover, and refrigerate. Add the sauce to a glass bowl, cover, and refrigerate. When you get home in the evening, just preheat the oven, shape the meat loaves, and continue cooking per the above instructions.


  1. Are you kidding?!!! I'm your sister and I ate moms's meatloaf and it was AWFUL; hopefully, yours will taste better.

  2. Well obviously, you have bad taste in meatloafs. Thankfully, you have good taste in brothers. :-)


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