My mother made a great meatloaf. Later, when needing a recipe, we found a good one in one of our cookbooks, which wasn’t that much like my mother’s.

Since then, I’ve been playing around. Made my latest iteration last night; this seems to capture most of the virtues of both of its ancestors (including being tremendously easy to make).

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Mix by hand in a large bowl:

  • 2lb ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1C milk
  • 1C Pepperidge Farm bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 1T Worcestershire sauce
  • 1t salt
  • 2t pepper (30 grinds on my mill)
  • 1t fennel seed
  • 1t dried thyme

Form into a loaf, perhaps a long one for this size. It will stand freely in a shallow pan (needs something to catch the drippings, don’t do it on a flat sheet!). It cooks fine in a loaf pan, but this size is big for one loaf pan and small for two.

Cook until done (interior temperature 160°F). Let sit a bit, slice, eat. Took over an hour, but the exact shape of loaf, and how open the pan is, will make a big difference.

Excellent as a leftover in sandwiches.

Of course this is not at all a precise sort of recipe. The loaf is a more useful size with 1.5lb of beef, in which case probably just one egg.

If you’re using unseasoned bread crumbs, you’ll probably want to add a bunch of herbs, and probably more salt also.

Many people put ketchup in or on (or both) meatloaf. If you like it that way, this may not be the recipe for you; this is intended to eat straight, and the flavor would be overwhelmed by ketchup.

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