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Ellen's Mom's Nebraska Meatloaf

We make this at every family holiday, and never less than two loaves at a time, since lots of people like the end pieces and EVERYBODY loves meatloaf sandwiches. No mushy texture, no tomato sauce, just good basic meatloaf. At home I make a double recipe in 4 small loaf pans to give extra end pieces.

You know how hamburgers made with lean ground beef are often too dry? This recipe can be made with 90% lean beef because the sausage keeps it juicy. If you use very lean beef, reduced fat sausage and some ground turkey, you will get a much leaner result but a little firmer, dryer texture.

Mom's Nebraska Meatloaf

1 9x5 inch loaf

1/2 cup onion (1 small) with juice, grated or finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 slices bread soaked in
1/4 cup milk
2 eggs
1 pound pork sausage OR chicken sausage
2 pounds ground beef OR may substitute 1/2 ground turkey (whole, not breast) or ground chicken thigh

Preheat oven anywhere from 300-375 degrees. Baking time depends on the size of the loaves and temperature of the oven. If you use pork sausage, cook to an internal temperature of 160 degrees, approximately 1 1/4 hours for a 9x5 inch loaf at 350 degrees. Vary to let you bake potatoes, apples, squash, or pie at the same time.

Grate the onion into a large bowl, add the bread, milk and eggs. Beat all smooth.

Crumble in the ground meats and mix EVER SO GENTLY with the hands until all the ingredients are distributed evenly. The principal cause of rubbery meatloaf (or meatballs) is overhandling and overpacking the meat.

Place in loaf pan. Handle the ground meats gently and get the tops smooth and rounded, but not super tight. Bright pans bake better meatloaf, dark bake better bread. Glass require lower temps and cook faster.

Into the oven it goes. Check the pan halfway through and pour off melted fat from the pan, then drain again as soon as it comes out of the oven. If you let it sit in the drippings, it will reabsorb them and become mushy. Save those tasty drippings! The drippings can be saved in the refrigerator, skimmed, frozen, and used to season a pot of beans or vegetables.

Variations: Some folks really like to add 1 tablespoon ketchup or 1/4 cup grated bell pepper or coat the top with ketchup or tomato sauce.
Crockpot: This recipe may be cooked on high in a crock pot for 3-4 hours. Drain as directed above.