By adding packaged bread crumbs or stuffing mix to a favorite meat loaf recipe and by making small loaves, you not only speed up the preparation but shorten the baking time by as much as 20 minutes – these little loaves need just 15 to 20 minutes to cook through. Season them as you wish; I like to add fresh garlic and chopped parsley and often a dash of Italian seasoning. Begin with ground round and you will have little fat drain out of the loaf and into the pan. What to serve alongside the meat loaves? Mashed potatoes – naturally!
Yield: Serves 4 to 6
2 large eggs
1 cup plain bread crumbs or plain stuffing mix (see Note)
1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
½ medium-size onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ cup fresh parsley leaves
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 pound ground beef round
1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F.
2. Crack the eggs into a large mixing bowl and beat with a fork until lemon colored. Stir in the bread crumbs and tomato sauce. Cut the onion half in half. Place the onion halves, garlic, and parsley in a food processor. Pulse several times until finely chopped. Add the onion mixture to the bread crumb mixture along with the Italian seasoning and stir to combine. Add the ground round to the bread crumb mixture and mash it with a fork to combine.
3. Divide the ground round mixture into 6 even portions and form these into loaves Place the meat loaves in a 13-by-9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish. Bake until the tops brown and the meat loaves have cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the meat loaves from the oven, serve at once, or let cool, wrap in aluminum foil, and freeze for a later meal. The meat loaves will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Using a food processor to chop the onion and parsley saves time here, especially since the pieces don’t have to be perfect and uniform, just chopped.
Be careful not to overwork the ground beef. You want to mix it only enough to combine the ingredients so that the loaves stay light and moist when baked.
I am not a fan of sage-flavored stuffing mixes, so I like to use a plain stuffing mix or the coarse bread crumbs that come in bags.