1 T butter
1 large sweet onion, minced
1 large green bell pepper, minced
2 lbs ground chuck
1 lb ground pork
3/4 cup ketchup
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 t ground black pepper
20 smashed Saltine crackers
3/4 cup ketchup
1 1/2 T brown sugar
1/4 t dried mustard
In a large pan set over medium heat, melt the butter. Once that is spreading out nicely, add the onion and bell pepper. Sauté until both veggies are softened but not browned. Remove them to a bowl and put in the refrigerator to cool off for about half an hour.
Preheat the oven to 350° F
Spray two 8×4 (or 9×5) inch bread loaf pans with your favorite non-stick spray. In the photo, the meatloaf sits in 9×5 pans.
Put the meat in a bowl, pinching off a bit of chuck then a bit of pork, until you have finished breaking up both packages of meat and spread them rather evenly throughout the bowl. This will prevent you from smashing the meat overmuch which leads to dense meatloaf. Use your hands and mix it all together for a minute.
Add the 3/4 cup ketchup, eggs, ground black pepper, and cooled off sautéed veggies. Mix again with your hands.
Use your hands and crush the Saltines into the bowl. Don’t fuss the crushing. Some pieces will be larger than others and that’s not just ok, that’s best. Don’t process the pieces to the point of store bought bread crumbs.
Continue to mix by hand until everything is reasonably evenly distributed.
Ok, be truthful here. Did you go a little overboard on the ketchup? Is the mixture a bit soupy? You can cook it like that but it may become a little too lose to slice at the table. Otherwise, to fix it, crumble another five Saltines and mix well. The goal is not to make it dry, just not soupy.
Use your hands (I am sensing a theme here) and divide the meat evenly between the two loaf pans. Press lightly to make the surface even.
Mix together the 3/4 cup ketchup with brown sugar and mustard. Spread out thinly and evenly between the two loafs.
Pop the pans in the oven for about an hour, or until the center of the meat reaches 155° F. If you use the larger pans, your loaf will not be as dense and will cook just a little faster, so keep an eye on it.
Remove from the oven and let the meat stand in the pans for 10 minutes.
Use two flexible spatulas and carefully lift the loaf out of each pan and place upon a platter.
Meatloaf is, of course, superb with mashed potatoes and green beans, peas, or broccoli.
Use one great big huge pan and put all the meat inside. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours. Follow the same temp and standing instructions.
Or bake one loaf and place the other in the freezer until solid. Then pop out of the pan and wrap with freezer plastic and then foil. Replace in the original pan and let it thaw before cooking at 350° for about an hour.
Or, divide the meat out into 3-4 smaller uncooked loaf shapes and freeze them. Place one frozen loaf inside a small casserole dish and put it in the fridge for a couple days where it will thaw nicely. When you come home from work, just pop it in the oven at 350° F for about 45 minutes or until it is 155° in the center. This makes meatloaf an easy dinner for a smaller or working family.
An alternative to brown sugar and mustard is to add a bit of honey to the ketchup. It’s delicious.