Family Favorite Meatloaf
Basic Southern meatloaf that has the most delicious topping with the perfect balance of sweet and tangy. Next time, I will make extra sauce for serving.
- 2 1/2 lbs. good quality lean ground beef (I used 93/7)
- 1 cup freshly ground white bread crumbs* (4 slices, crusts removed)
- 1/2 cup crushed saltine crackers* (12 single crackers)
- 1/2 cup very finely chopped yellow onion
- 1 jumbo egg, beaten
- 1 (8 oz) can tomato sauce (I use Hunt's)
- 2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, or to taste (I added a little more)
- 2/3 cup ketchup (I use Hunt's)
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon yellow table mustard (I use French's)
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
Pulse the bread slices in a food processor until semi-fine crumbs then spread them out on a jellyroll pan to dry out a bit while you prep the other ingredients. (I put them in a slightly warm oven (not on) until needed).
In a small bowl, whisk together all the Topping ingredients. Set aside.
Remove breadcrumbs from the oven, then preheat oven to 325° F.
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the egg well; add the remaining meatloaf ingredients and mix lightly until combined. (Do not overmix or the meatloaf will be tough.) Dump mixture into a shallow baking dish and lightly shape it into a log or circle about 4" high. Coat top and sides of meatloaf with sauce. You can either brush it on or spoon some on top and smooth it onto the sides with the back of the spoon. Reserve the remaining sauce for basting as the meatloaf cooks.
Bake on center oven rack for about 1 1/2 hours, or until center or thickest part reaches 165-170° on a meat thermometer, basting 2 or 3 times with the sauce periodically during bake time. (When mine was almost done, I removed it from the original baking dish (to get it out of the greasy drippings) with a wide spatula onto a rimmed pizza pan then basted the final time and finished baking.
Remove from oven and let rest 5-10 minutes before slicing. Serve with homemade mashed potatoes or mac and cheese and a green vegetable. About 8 servings.
I think you could use all saltine crackers, or all bread crumbs instead of using both, if desired, though I have not made it that way yet.