I recently received an email request from my son Adam for my meatloaf recipe and have been delaying my reply because, as you may have guessed, I make meatloaf without a recipe. I'm sure most of us have a list of basic dishes they've made all their life, learned from watching a grandparent, and have never written down the ingredients and amounts especially because it all changes slightly each time depending. But there are some general principles and standard ingredients which will reliably produce a savory meatloaf with the correct remembered taste. So here's my crack at it and feel free to adjust to your own taste.
2 lbs Ground beef
breadcrumbs - preferably Progresso Italian Style or Colonna Italian Style
Onion - finely chopped and sautéed in butter until transparent and slightly brown
2 cloves garlic finely minced and added to the onions for the last few minutes sauteeing
Mushrooms - chopped and sautéed in butter
eggs (approx 1 egg per pound of ground beef)
parmesan cheese - grated
milk to moisten breadcrumbs
salt, pepper, herbs and spices, chopped parsley
Loaf pan - 2lb size usually around 7½ x 4¾ x 3½ inches deep
Basically, I add a small amount of milk to the breadcrumbs and set aside to allow it to be absorbed.
Meanwhile, I chop the onions and mushrooms and saute them in butter.
Put the ground beef into a large mixing bowl and dump the other ingredients on top of the beef.
* Add herbs and spices, salt & pepper - how much depends on whether you use plain or Italian flavoured breadcrumbs. Do give it a few good grinds of black pepper. I hate bland food. Be careful what you add as some herbs have very strong flavors and can easily overwhelm your dish ie oregano, thyme.
Now GENTLY mix it all with your hands. (You did wash your hands carefully with soap and water first, right?) You want everything to form a soft but uniform mix. Do not overmix, squeese, or beat the ingredients - texture is very important.
Place the mix into a loaf pan and bake for about 1 hour at 350F. Check for doneness - meat should be nicely brown with crispy bits at the edges and juices run clear. If needed, leave in another 15 min and check again.
When done, allow to sit for 15 min or so to settle and then serve hot. Can also be allowed to cool and eaten cold. Makes very nice sandwiches.
If you want an actual recipe - here's one I absolutely love (and it's very similar to mine): http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2010/09/my-favorite-meatloaf/