Sliced Meatloaf (Photo by Cynthia Nelson)

I made Meatloaf for the first time, last weekend. Not only did it turn out really well, but it is also very easy to make, feeds a crowd for not a lot of money and satisfies meat lovers. I have to share this with you.

Meatloaf can be thought of as a giant meatball, after all, it’s essentially made with the same ingredients but instead of rolling bits of the meat mixture into balls and cooking them, the mixture is gathered in a mass and baked in a loaf pan or shaped into a log and baked on a rimmed sheet pan. When I picked up the 2-pound packet of ground beef, my intention was to make meatballs, however, given the multitude of things I had to get done the following day, I knew that I would not be in a mood to patiently measure and roll meatballs then stand at the stove cooking the lot in batches. I prefer to cook my meatballs on the stovetop, unless I am cooking them in a sauce – then I bake them. Anyway, into a loaf pan went the seasoned meat mixture for my first Meatloaf.

Everything that I had read, seen, and heard about Meatloaf always spoke of the dryness of the finished product. It seemed to be the one feature of Meatloaf that was, understandably, a turn off for many people. And in most cases, the Meatloaf was served with a gravy to temper its dryness. In my case, I used a ratio of mince that was 80 percent meat and 20 percent fat, which always guarantees me tender meatballs, but I was not taking any chances because the Meatloaf needed to cook for about an hour. Therefore, I opted to include fresh rather than dry breadcrumbs. And, instead of adding them just as they were, I softened them with milk, letting the mixture sit for about 20 minutes and then mashing it with a fork to create almost a thick, porridge-like consistency…..

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