I don’t think it was until I was in high school or college that I realized that my mom’s meatloaf was different that most other people’s. Apparently, it’s more standard to have a tomato-based sauce, brown sugar, or BBQ sauce mixed in or coating the meatloaf. Don’t get me wrong, those are good too – but my mom’s meatloaf is better. It’s an indisputable fact… don’t argue with me! This was the only meatloaf I ever knew, but in looking through the family cookbook, I recently noted two separate recipes: “Mama’s Red Meatloaf” and “Mama’s Brown Meatloaf.” (“Mama” in this context being my grandmother.) So apparently my own mother was the one partial to the “Brown Meatloaf.” She probably made it for us once every few weeks, while I don’t think she ever made the red version. The meatloaf itself is simple. There’s not much more to it than the ground beef. But the gravy… oh the gravy… that’s what makes the dish! It’s so savory, thick, and delicious. There’s plenty to coat your meat, as well as whatever starch and/or vegetables your choose to serve with it. My recipe is slightly adapted from my mother’s, which is slightly adapted from her mother’s. This may not be nostalgic for you as it is for me, but it is homey, comfort food no matter what.
PS: Can someone teach me how to photograph meatloaf and gravy so it looks appetizing? I promise you, this is delicious, despite it’s blah appearance!
Meatloaf with Beef-Onion Gravy
- 2 lb ground beef
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 cup fine bread crumbs
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tsp salt
- 10 turns fresh ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp + 2 1/2 cups beef stock
- 3 tbsp butter
- 3 tbsp flour
- 1/4 cup milk
- 1 packet of dry onion soup mix
- Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- In a large bowl, combine the first 7 ingredients (beef through 2 tbsp beef stock). Mix together with your hands until well-combined.
- Form the mixture into a loaf. Place your meatloaf into a glass casserole dish.
- Place in the oven on middle rack. Baking times will vary based on the thickness of your loaf (if you make a longer/thinner loaf, aim for the lower end… if you make a thicker/stouter loaf, aim for the longer end…). Plan on an hour & 15 minutes to an hour & 45 minutes. Safe internal temperature per the FDA is 160 degrees for ground beef.
- After 45 minutes to an hour, begin to make the gravy. Start by melting butter in a pan over medium heat.
- Once butter has melted, whisk in the flour. Whisk continuously until the butter and flour have come together to make a thick roux.
- Next, add the 2 1/2 cups of beef stock in by the 1/2 cup. Continue whisking. (You, of course, may add more or less depending upon how you like the thickness of your gravy.)
- Lastly, stir in the onion mix and milk. Lower heat and stir occasionally.
- With 20-30 minutes left in the cooking time for the meatloaf, remove it from the oven briefly. Pour off any released grease/fat.
- Coat the meatloaf with the gravy. Return to the oven for an additional 20-30 minutes.
- Serve after confirming that it is fully cooked.