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recipe collector...civil engineer...cookbook devourer...looking to share cookbook & recipe reviews and my real-life kitchen dramas as I re-engineer recipes ...

Friday, February 11, 2011

Three Free Thursday Part I: 30-Minute Meatloaf

Happy Three Free Thursday, Blog Readers! This is the second entry of my new biweekly "Three Free Thursday" blog entries.  To recap the process, on the first Thursday, I select three free recipes from sources on Twitter.  On the following Thursday, I report back via blog entry the full results of my adventures in the kitchen and let you know if you should try these recipes at home. Enjoy!

Recipe: 30-Minute Meatloaf
Source: @TestKitchen
Link: http://www.cookscountry.com/recipe.asp?recipeids=3658&bdc=43896

I hate meatloaf. Wow - it feels really good to get that off my chest after decades of suppressing my disgust towards these dry bricks of ground meat masquerading themselves as comfort food.   A meatloaf is either a perfect Stepford-like square loaf that cuts in solid, tasteless slices or an uneven humped hot mess with bits of aluminum foil clinging to its burnt bottom bits. And a meatloaf doesn't last just one meal.  Meatloaf lives on for days as hot, dry leftovers and disgustingly solid cold sandwiches.  Meatloaf may be the worst thing that ever happened to sliced bread. I hate meatloaf.

So why make meatloaf for Three Free Thursday?  First, I aspire for Three Free Thursday blog entries to shake all of us (myself included) out of our usual cooking and eating ruts. Also, I trust @TestKitchen and appreciate their thorough means and methods of recipe testing and recipe writing.  Mainly, it was the challenge of "30-Minute Meatloaf".  I have a love/hate relationship with simplified recipes.  Simplified recipes tend to over-simplify by severely limiting ingredients and minimizing important cooking steps. I personally love dicing and peeling vegetables, using fresh herbs and slowly roasting meats. 

Armed with a hatred of meatloaf and wariness of simplified recipes, I put this recipe to the test.  After a full day of work, followed by an hour of GroupPower gym lifting class, I arrived at my kitchen counter with tired, achy muscles and a cranky attitude. The perfect remedy for my maladies - crushing Saltines.  While others might efficiently pulse the crackers in a food processor, I prefer to crush the Saltines by hand.  The best therapy is watching weak crackers cower in a little, clear sandwich bag while I repeatedly pound them into crumbs.


The 30-Minute Meatloaf was the perfect weeknight comfort food.  Every step of the recipe looks and smells delicious.  The meatloaf mix included the usual suspects - fragrant fresh parsley and savory Worcestershire sauce - but utilize garlic and onion powders to speed up the prep work. You honestly won't notice the lack of onions or minced garlic at all.  The recipe produces four hearty meal servings, which is perfect so that you aren't saddled with tons of leftovers.  Great "prep ahead" instructions in the recipe suggest completing the recipe up to forming the loaves and then wrapping up the loaves tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate overnight and then thaw for 20 minutes before adding to the skillet.

Added bonus, I completed the recipe in just over 30 minutes (and that includes a "few" wine and Tweet breaks).  Serve with mashed sweet potatoes & steamed green vegetable for a  tasty, nutrient-rich meal. Turns out, I'm a "30-Minute Meatloaf" believer! Thanks @TestKitchen.

  • Take the time to form the loaves well.  You want consistent cooking and good cohesion when handling the loaves.
  • Transfer loaves for skillet to broiler plate VERY carefully to avoid breaking up loaves.
  • Save the extra glaze for leftovers.  It is delicious - a sweet alternative to boring ketchup.

Rating: 5 out of 5

Thanks for reading Part I of this week's Three Free Thursday! Feel free to send in recipe suggestions for Three Free Thursday on Twitter to @RecipEngineer or by e-mail RecipEngineer@gmail.com

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