1-1½ pounds ground chuck (85/15 preferred)
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon onion powder
2 teaspoons celery salt
4-5 cloves garlic, minced
Splash of hot pepper sauce
1 medium/large onion
1 green pepper
3 green onions
12 ounces Colby Jack cheese
4 cups oats (not instant)
2 cans (12 ounces each) tomato juice, divided
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with wax paper.
In a large bowl place the ground meat, eggs, seasoning and spices, garlic and hot sauce and mix together until well combined. Set aside.
Rough chop the vegetables and throw them into the mix. Cut cheese into cubes about the size of the tip of your pinkie and add to the mix.
Pour in three quarters of the first can of tomato juice and start adding the oats, mixing by hand as you incorporate the oats and juice (save a bit of the juice). Add oats and juice as needed to get a nice thick consistency, not too runny, but not completely like dough.
Form the mixture into two, evenly sized loaves (see note) and place on the prepared pan. Pour the remaining tomato juice over the tops of the loaves to keep them moist and bake for 1 hour. Pour the second can of juice into a bowl and baste the loaves with juice every 20 minutes or when it looks like it might dry out. Cooking is love, check on your creation, and pamper it! Let rest 10 minutes and serve.
Serves five to six, generously, with leftovers.
Cook's notes: I have found that loaf pans tend to burn and do more harm when used for a meatloaf so I form my loaves by hand.
I generally take all the scraps from the onions, peppers, and scallions, along with some of the same seasonings, and I toss them in a pot with some sliced red potatoes, extra cloves of garlic and a stick of butter and cook until the potatoes are tender.
The next day slices of meatloaf, and sliced potatoes fresh from the fridge hold up well between two pieces of white bread making a hearty sandwich sure to be the envy of the guys at work or the other kids in the lunchroom. A beast of a meal packed in a sammy to ensure a good midday meal for your loved ones!
Chef Trevor McGrath, Bella Luna, Glendale Heights