I have a hard time thinking of a more polarizing meal than meat loaf. Some people love it, some people hate it. Some are haunted by memories of Mom threatening the end of the world if they don’t finish it… Perhaps that’s why it makes meat loaf a perfect signature meal at 50’s Prime Time Cafe.
Meat loaf isn’t hard to make, but making good meat loaf seems to throw people for a loop. In fact, when I talked to folks about meat loaf, the common complaints I heard was that their meat loaf has soggy sides, the corners are dried out bricks, the meat loaf itself is too dry, the meat loaf is too soft and falls apart, it’s impossible to get that crunchy top because the fat pools on top… And believe it or not, the solution to almost all of these problems is how the meat loaf is put in the pan.
It seems most people simply push the meat loaf into the bread pan, pat perfectly flat on the surface, and mash the loaf so that it fills every square inch of the pan.
However, by doing this, the fat that cooks out of it has nowhere to go but on the top of the loaf (ruining your nice glaze), and the corners of the meat loaf get double cooked as they’re exposed to two sides of the hot pan. No fun!
The absolute best way to make meat loaf is to shape it in a long, rounded mound, something that doesn’t fill every corner of the bread pan.
This way, the fat that comes out of the top of the meat loaf during cooking rolls down the top and sides of the meat, creating that delish crust, and making sure that the meat is actually cooking, not simply boiling in its own fat.
It also makes it easier to drain the pan, which I like to do about halfway through cooking, so I can use fattier ground beef (which makes the loaf more moist).
Also, make sure you really dice your peppers and onions very, very small. The larger they are, the more likely your now super-moist meat loaf will crumble when you take it out of the pan.
Using that trick, along with the recipe for Mom’s Meat Loaf from 50’s Prime Time Cafe, I got two amazing meat loafs… One for dinner and one for the freezer for later. And I love a recipe that gives me leftovers I can freeze!
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Mom’s Meat Loaf
As is served at 50’s Prime Time Cafe, Disney’s Hollywood Studios
For the meat loaf~
- 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
- 1/4 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
- 1/4 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
- 2 pounds ground beef
- 1 pound ground pork
- 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon coarsely cracked black peppercorns (or to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt (or to taste)
For the glaze ~
Preheat the oven to 350 and lightly oil or spray with non-stick spray 2 medium sized loaf pans (about 8.5 inches by 4.5 inches).
In a large bowl, combine bread crumbs, onion, and bell peppers until completely mixed. Add beef, pork, eggs, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, and salt.
Using your hands, combine until all ingredients are completely combined, but take care to not overmix (overmixed meat will become overly mushy). Divide the meat mixture in half and shape into two, rounded loafs. Place in loaf pans.
Place loaf pans in oven and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until juices run clear and a meat thermometer says the inner temperature is 155 degrees. Brush meat loafs with glaze (preparation instructions below) and bake an additional 10 minutes.
Remove the meat loaves from the oven and allow to stand 5-10 minutes before serving. To serve, slice and serve warm with additional glaze or gravy on top.
To prepare glaze, while meat is cooking, prepare the glaze by combining ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, and mustard and stirring until combined.