What to CookMeatloaf

The Most Tender, Juicy Meatloaf Merrill Has Ever Cooked

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My favorite dish is my mom’s red beans and rice. It takes her all day to make it, simmering the beans until they soften into a creamy, comforting consistency and the scent of ham perfumes the house. Note, it’s not red beans and rice that’s my favorite, but my mom’s version. Because, let’s face it, whether it’s mom, dad, grandfather, or aunt, sometimes, all that matters is who makes the meal.

Back in 2010, Food52 co-founder Merrill Stubbs took a New Year’s vow to cook simpler food more often, like chicken cutlets, hearty ragu, or savory sweet potatoes. But one dish intimidated her: meatloaf.

Tender, juicy, and (almost) as good as Mom's.
Tender, juicy, and (almost) as good as Mom's. Photo by Julia Gartland

“Knowing that my fiancé's mother's meatloaf is pretty much his favorite meal in the world made me more than a little nervous,” she said.

To be safe, she turned to a recipe written by Jonathan Reynolds in an article about his friend, actor (and excellent home cook) Oliver Clark.

Here’s the trick to getting meatloaf nearly as juicy as Mom’s: Don’t overmix. Use two forks to “paw” the ingredients together, making sure everything is just combined before gently forming the mixture roughly into the shape of a football. After a 40-minute bake, brush the top with ketchup and put it back in the oven for 10 to 20 more minutes.

“The resulting meatloaf was certainly the most tender and juicy of its kind that I have ever produced,” Merrill said. “And I was assured that it almost—but not quite—lived up to my future mother-in-law's famous version.”

Oliver Clark's Meatloaf

Oliver Clark's Meatloaf

Merrill Stubbs Merrill Stubbs
Serves 6 to 8
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • Salt
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 pound ground chuck
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 pound ground veal
  • 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 pinch cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup, plus more for glazing
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons crème fraîche (or whipped cream cheese)
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
Go to Recipe

Who makes your favorite meal? Have you been able to re-create it? Share your stories in the comments!

Automagic Spring Menu Maker!
Automagic Spring Menu Maker!

Tags: Meat, Weeknight Cooking, Winter, Amanda & Merrill, Comfort Food