Mostly Guilt-Free Meatloaf

Everyone’s got a particular meatloaf recipe that they love. It might be passed down from Grandma, or found online, or from a much-loved cookbook. I never really liked meat loaf much when I was growing up; I don’t know what recipe my mother used, but it was merely ok. I vaguely remember a tomato sauce over the top of the whole thing.

Mom hasn’t made meatloaf in a zillion years, mostly because she and Dad had to worry about fats and cholesterol in their diets. I’m no different; I’ve got my own stash of statin drugs that I have to take. But I will NOT consume foods that may be healthy for me that don’t taste good. Meatloaf is a staple in my household, and I am not willing to compromise on its flavor. So I’ve experimented to come up with something that I don’t have to label “heart attack on a plate.” (And don’t tell me to use ground turkey, I HATE that stuff.)

Trick #1: I got one of those loaf pans that’s actually 2 pans in one, where the inner one contains holes on the bottom so that fat can drip through.

Trick #2: Use egg substitute instead of eggs to bind the ground beef mixture. In a meatloaf, egg substitute works just fine; you can’t tell the difference between that and regular eggs.

Trick #3: I use extremely lean ground beef. Foodies may take issue with this, because fat=flavor. Yeah, well. Fat also equals heart disease in my family, so I try to reduce fat without sacrificing flavor. My current favorite ground beef packages contain 96% beef, 4% fat. I can deal with that. (Your typical ground chuck is 80% beef, 20% fat. ‘Nuff said.)

My recipe is adapted from the one in the Pillsbury Kitchens Cookbook. I love tweaking recipes to suit my needs! Here’s what I’ve done:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. (Note that my oven runs about 25 degrees cold, so I’ve got mine at 375. Maybe someday I’ll get this fixed…)

Take a large onion and chop it coarsely. Saute the onion in a frying pan in about 1/2 Tbsp. of olive oil over medium-high heat, until the onion is somewhat carmelized. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, mix ground beef, egg substitute, ketchup, corn flake crumbs, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and carmelized onions together. I use my hands to get it mixed together well; the squeamish can use a spoon or farm it out to another member of the household. This was always popular with my girls.

And after mixing, it looks like this:

Spray a loaf pan (or special meatloaf pan like I described earlier) with non-stick cooking spray. Note that I like to use the “grilling” version for everything except baking. It works just as well if not better as the standard version, but it’s designed for high heat. Have you ever had your pans gunk up from cooking spray when you’re doing some sauteing? Now you know why I use the other stuff! Does spraying the pan really make a difference in sticking? It does. It especially makes cleaning the pan later a LOT easier. Trust me. And then you don’t have to soak the pan to get all the stuck-on bits off – which looks absolutely revolting the next morning.

Place the meat mixture into the pan. I typically round the top so that it looks like a loaf and fat that could accumulate on top will run off (and down through the pan).

Bake the meatloaf at 350 for about an hour. Let rest for about 5 minutes before serving. I particularly like the crunchy bits on the top…

Variant: If you really love the tomato sauce glaze, take about 1/4 cup ketchup mixed with about 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce and spoon that over the top the last 15 minutes of cooking. Can you tell I’m a big Worcestershire sauce fan? It causes magic to happen in the oven. Really.

Robin’s Mostly Guilt-Free Meatloaf

2 lbs. lean ground beef
1 large onion, diced
1/2 cup corn flake crumbs
1/4 cup egg substitute
1/2 cup ketchup
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a loaf or meatloaf pan with non-stick cooking spray. Saute the diced onion in about 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil until carmelized. Let onion cool slightly. Mix all ingredients with the cooled onions, and place in the prepared pan. Bake for about 1 hour, let rest for 5 minutes before serving. (If using a glaze on top, add that for the last 15 minutes of baking.)