(OK.. it is JUST a meat loaf, but ULTIMATE brings in more viewers)

Fun dinner item or horror movie reject? You decide!

Difficulty: 2. Relatively easy to make, though it will take an hour or so to cook.

Visual Appeal: 2, 1 when covered in sauce (which looks like blood).

Taste: 3. Meat loaf has a good, solid flavor that made it a staple of the Cleavers and other 50's families. It won't impress your significant other with a "melts in your mouth" flavor, but it is better than eating T.V. dinners and left-over pizza.

Nutritional Value: 4. This is PURE PROTEIN, BABY! You want big muscles? Eat meat loaf. Add a green veggie as a side dish and you're eating healthier than you probably have in years.

Reheatability: 5. NOTHING re-heats like meat loaf. Not only will it last longer than most meat dishes in your 'fridge, many people actually think it tastes BETTER as a left-over.

Cooking Time: 1 Hour plus.

Why you should learn how to make this dish: Meat loaf is the ultimate late night/dorm/on-the-go/I'm-in-a-pinch-for-time food. Why? Because it reheats almost perfectly in the microwave. But it is also versatile: you can eat it cold, hot, on bread, covered in gravy, or raw. Make one of these on Sunday and you're covered for meals for most of the next week.

Who should avoid this dish: Vegans and anyone not particularly keen on eating dead flesh and muscle. Sure, you can try and sneak it by them by calling it a "Tofu-loaf," but somehow they always seem to guess it is made from animals. Go figure.

Godzilla says: "RAAARRRGGGHHH!!!!!" (translation: "I love meat loaf! It tastes like unsuspecting tourists, but without the hard-to-swallow cameras or annoying aftertaste.")
    The ultimate guy food, nothing says, "I am a bad-ass dude that hasn't sold out" more than eating a large slab of ground beef shaped like a loaf (except maybe letting someone kick you in the groan and just laughing it off.. but that's a bit too extreme for most of us). Ladies, cooking your boyfriend up a meat loaf every now and then lets him know you think he's a REAL MAN, if only for a moment. Men, even your most hardcore friends won't question your masculine nature if they catch you in the kitchen making a MEAT LOAF - unlike those tiny French dishes I always tried to.. er.. never mind. The point is, unless you're a vegetarian, there's no reason NOT to learn this recipe. It is cheaper than fast food, lasts longer, and is better for you. So why keep putting it off? Let's begin.

Equipment List (Necessary)

1 Oven (Do any of you really have more than one and USE them both? And no, telling your servants to bake with both at the same time does not count!)
1 Baking Pan (Not the type you usually use on a burner, people.)
1 Large Bowl (everything gets mixed into this, so make sure it is BIG.)

Equipment List (Recommended)

1 Kitchen Timer (Also called an egg timer or baking timer. It should go for at least an hour. Sure, you can use the VCR clock to cook with or even try to time it using the duration of various television shows, but is that really the best way to go? What if you are watching a special two-hour Friends and don't know it? Then you're screwed.)
1 Measuring Cup (Sometimes the plastic Garfield cup in the cupboard just isn't a legitimate cup-sized vessel. Make sure to call your State Bureau of Weights and Measures if you discover this to be true.)
Measuring Spoons (Some people like accuracy. Bah! Cooking is an ART, not a SCIENCE!)
1 Meat Thermometer (and no, you can't use the one in your medicine cabinet unless.. you're one sick puppy.)
1 Basting Brush (Only if you want to coat the outside with sauce. I usually just use a spoon.)

Ingredients (Necessary)

2 lbs. Ground Beef (Any type. I like ground round. Remember that fat adds flavor, but can also make the meat taste "slimy" if too abundant.)
2 Eggs (And you thought the chickens would be safe when making meat loaf! Ha!)
1/2 cup liquid (I use 1/4 cup condensed tomato soup and 1/4 cup 2% milk. You can use either one, or try other liquids like wine or V8. Hm. I wonder how beer would work...)
1/2 cup Bread Crumbs (I use spicy italian, but you can use whatever type you want. Some people use oatmeal instead, but to me, that just seems wrong - oatmeal is a BREAKFAST food, and should not be served with any other meal under penalty of death.)
2 Teaspoons Salt (There's nothing funny about salt, especially when some idiot throws it over his shoulder and it gets in your eyes. No jokes here!)

Ingredients (Recommended)

1 Small Chopped Onion (Increase or decrease this amount depending on how bad you want your breath to smell. Most cookbooks recommend 1/4 cup per 2 pounds of meat.)
Dried Spices (1/2 teaspoon basil, 1/2 teaspoon rosemary, 1/4 teaspoon marjoram, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1/4 teaspoon sage, and 1/4 teaspoon thyme. Spices like garlic and Lawry Salt can also be used.)
Butter (To grease the pan with. I use unsalted. Other people use Crisco. Try not to get too kinky with this part.)
Chili Sauce (I usually use half a bottle of Heinz Chili Sauce. Delmonte makes a sweeter sauce, though. And some of you inbreds will just use ketchup. Blah.)

    Directions: Pre-heat your oven to 350F. Take all of the above mentioned NECESSARY INGREDIENTS and put them into a bowl. Add any onions and spices you want into the bowl and MIX it together so that it is all just one consistent lump of meaty-goodness. Real men will use their hands to do this, which will result in said appendage appearing like a horribly mutilated monster-claw. You know, there's just something about squeezing all of that meat through your fingers that makes you feel powerful. To clean up your monster-claw afterwards, wipe it with a paper towel after scraping all the excess meat off with a spoon, and then wash the appendage with Dawn.
    Moving on: Once you've mixed the meat, you need to grease your baking pan and create your loaf. Hint: Greasing means lightly covering the INSIDE of the item in question, and does not require adding an inch-thick layer of motor oil or hand lotion to the pan. Now, some people use a bread pan to form the "loaf" shape, but most of us don't have the extra money to burn for such items. Therefore, shape the meat with your hands until it resembles a loaf of bread (those of you that have never seen a loaf of bread need to get out more. I'm serious. TURN OFF YOUR COMPUTER NOW AND GO EXPERIENCE THE WORLD IF YOU HAVE NEVER SEEN A LOAF OF BREAD!!!!!). Once it is loaf shaped, TURN OFF the "pre-heat" setting on your oven (if you have such a setting) and make sure it is set to bake. Then pop the loaf-filled pan onto the middle shelf, close the door, and set your timer. If you like your meat a bit on the raw side, set it for 50-60 minutes. Medium? About 60-70 minutes. Well done? Around 70-80. Of course, you COULD always use a meat thermometer and get an accurate reading, but that would just be too darn easy. For those of you that are wimping out and using such a device, here are the rough temperatures you should be shooting for: 140 for rare (which doesn't keep very well), 155 for medium (my favorite), and 160+ for well done (which usually means you messed up and burned it).
    Finale: Once cooked, take the loaf out of the oven and let it cool uncovered. Remove it from the pan (the bottom of which should be filled with melted fat and other nasty stuff) and put it on a plate to serve (your girlfriend will get mad at you if you just take the whole loaf in one hand and start stuffing it into your face. This is considered bad manners for some reason). Serve hot, usually with a side of mashed potatoes or green vegetables. Cover the left-overs with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Professional Moves

- Cover the meat loaf with chili sauce to give it that added flavor and make people think you did more than just drop a big hunk of ground meat into the fire for an hour. For those of you that like the sauce warm but not crusty, cover the loaf using either a spoon or a basting brush when it only has 15 minutes left to cook. For those that like the sauce a bit stiffer, apply it with 20-25 minutes left. Want it crusty? 30-40 minutes prior to the end, "finish" the loaf at high temperatures (450F). FYI, I usually put my chili sauce on 25 minutes early.
- To avoid "crunchy" outsides, occasionally open the oven and cover the loaf with a basting mixture made of 1 part wine and 1 part butter. In my opinion, you're better off just drinking the wine WITH your meat loaf, but some people like to go all out when cooking.
- To truly re-visit your childhood, cover the top of the meat loaf with mashed potatoes. Put them on 20 minutes before the loaf is done. After that 20 minutes, increase the heat to 400F and cook until the mashed potatoes turn a golden-brown in color.
Meatloaf says, "ARGH! Someone replaced the stage lights with heating lamps again! I'm burning!! I'm BURNING!!!" Only cannibals want to eat this type of meatloaf; (semi-) Normal people follow the above recipe instead. Enjoy!

- Another great recipe by Markup (11/28/2000).

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