Never having liked meatloaf much as a kid, I enjoy the heck out of this recipe. It has some of my favorite things - rosemary, for one; and carmelized onions for another. If you enjoy these as much as I do, hold onto your hats because you're going to love this loaf.
Get started by preheating your oven to 400°. While that's happening, peal and thickly slice one large sweet onion and saute it until it's golden brown in a little olive oil on medium high heat. Add a couple tablespoons of water and continue to saute until the water evaporates. Take the pan off the heat and set it aside.
Next, remove the crusts from three slices of bread, tear them up into cubes, put them in your food processor and process until turned into fine crumbs. Pour into a large bowl.
Now, roughly chop up a stalk of celery, half an onion, and a carrot and put them in your food processor along with a half cup of fresh parsley leaves, and 2 peeled and smashed cloves of garlic. Pulse the processor until the vegetables are minced, but be sure to stop well short of making a puree. Add to the bowl of bread crumbs.
Into your bowl, add a half cup of ketchup, two teaspoons dry mustard, two eggs, two teaspoons salt, one teaspoon ground pepper, one teaspoon hot pepper sauce, a half teaspoon chopped rosemary, and a half pound each of ground veal, pork, and beef. Mix with your hands just until everything is combined, but be careful to not over-mix. You don't want a dense and heavy loaf.
Get a piece of baking parchment or tin foil about the size of a loaf pan and put it on a rack in a roasting pan. This will keep the meat loaf from falling through the cracks, so to speak, while allowing the fat to drain away. No greasy meat loaf here! Place your mixture on the parchment and form it into a loaf. If it hangs over the edge a bit, that's fine.
Here comes the good part...
Mix together three tablespoons of ketchup, one tablespoon dry mustard, and two tablespoons brown sugar. Smear this all over your loaf. Now, take those beautifully carmelized onions and put them on top of everything.
Bake for a half hour and then sprinkle rosemary needles on top. How many? Depends on how much you like rosemary. I like it a lot. Return the meat loaf to the oven and continue baking for another half hour or until a thermometer reads 160° when stuck into the center. Allow to rest for fifteen minutes before serving.
Some thoughts and suggestions:
- The quality of this delectable meat loaf is dependent on the quality of the ingredients. Do try not to skimp. Fresh parsley is crucial, and fresh rosemary makes a big difference. Making your own bread crumbs is also important. I've made this loaf using dried ingredients and it's still pretty good, but can't hold a candle to one made with fresh ingredients.
- I simply can't get enough of the carmelized onions on the top, and so use the largest onion I can find.