Welcome to the most educational Spilled Milk episode you'll ever hear. We welcome J. Kenji Lopez-Alt and his magnificent meatloaf while he spins tales of luxurious band camps, coed fraternities, and three-meat mixtures. We discuss the loaves of our youth, meat juices, and what this classic American comfort food means to us. Warning: contains MSG, slooshing, and deja vu.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/3 cups fresh breadcrumbs
About 1/3 cup whole milk, or enough to saturate the breadcrumbs
1 pound ground beef
1 pound ground pork
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 teaspoons fish sauce
2 large eggs, beaten well
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/3 cup minced fresh Italian parsley
1/3 cup ketchup, plus 1/4 cup for topping the loaf
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment or aluminum foil.
Warm the oil in a medium saucepan over moderate heat. Add the onion and garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is softened and translucent but not brown. Set aside.
Put the breadcrumbs in a small bowl, and drizzle the milk over them, stirring to moisten. Set aside.
Put the beef and pork in a large mixing bowl, breaking up any large hunks. Add the salt, fish sauce, eggs, mustard, parsley, and 1/3 cup ketchup. Add the onion and garlic. Using your hand, squeeze the milk from the breadcrumbs; then add the breadcrumbs to the meat mixture (discard the milk). Holding one hand in a claw shape, press it down into the ingredients, and briskly stir with your hand to mix evenly. When the meat and seasonings are uniformly mixed, pick up the mixture and turn in over in the bowl, and briefly mix again (Turning it over helps to ensure that no ingredient settles to the bottom and clumps there.)
Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking sheet, and use your hands to pat and shape it into an approximately 9 by 5-inch loaf. (If you find that the mixture is sticking to your hands, rinse them well and leave them slightly wet; the moisture will keep the meat from sticking). Brush the loaf evenly with the remaining 1/4 cup ketchup.
Cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until a thermometer inserted into the center of the loaf reaches 155 F to 160 F. Cool for at least 20 minutes before slicing.