If you aren't preparing to celebrate Christmas in your household this week, then there's a good chance that you are instead erecting a Festivus pole and warming up to face Uncle Joey for this year's Feats of Strength. And since you needed a Festivus miracle last year to pin the old man down, that's where this Festivus meatloaf recipe comes in.
The traditional Festivus dinner is a meatloaf in red sauce (or spaghetti...no one really knows), followed immediately by the Airing of Grievances and, of course, the dreaded Feats of Strength. The purpose of this Festivus meatloaf is twofold: it's so good that your cooking skills will most definitely not be included in the Grievances, and you'll be able to get Uncle Joey to the floor in a heartbeat with all that strength-endowing protein coursing through your veins.
The trick to good meatloaf is this: use good meat. Preferably a lot of it. For my meatloaf, I use three different kinds of meat: ground pork, ground beef and ground veal. If the latter meat bothers you on some ideological basis, then just stick with the ground pork and beef -- don't go trying to throw ground turkey in there because...well, there's a time and a place for "low-fat" meatloafs, and this isn't it.
That said, this meatloaf will be a welcome addition at any dinner table, not just at your Festivus meal.
Festivus Miracle Meatloaf
- 1 lb. ground beef
- 1/4 lb. ground pork
- 1/4 lb. ground veal
- 1 egg
- 1 finely minced shallot
- 1/3 tube crushed Ritz crackers
- 2 T. of ketchup
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 2 tsp. tomato paste (the tube kind, not the canned kind)
- 1/4 c. brown sugar
Since one of the secrets to a good meatloaf is not overworking it, it's best to mix up the egg, shallot, Ritz crackers, 1 tablespoon of the ketchup, salt, 1 teaspoon of the Worcestershire sauce and 1 teaspoon of the tomato paste together first, then add the meats. Mix all together just until combined, but don't overdo it...nobody likes tough meatloaf!
Put the meatloaf onto a piece of foil sprayed with Pam then put on a cookie sheet and form into a loaf with your hands. Do not put the meatloaf into a loaf pan. This is disgusting and will cause your meatloaf to stew in its own juices. Cooking it freeform on a cookie sheet allows the fat to seep out and the outside to beautifully caramelize. See how much nicer that sounds already?
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For the topping, combine the brown sugar with the remainder of the ketchup, tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce in a bowl and mix well. Spread all over the outside of the meatloaf (prior to cooking, please).
Cook your meatloaf at 400 degrees for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until a meat thermometer registers 155º. Take it out and tent it for 15 minutes (remember that carry-over cooking will continue to cook your meatloaf until the proper temperature of 160-165º is reached).
Serve and enjoy as you finish plotting your wrestling moves for later. Happy Festivus!
--- Katharine Shilcutt