In our home, meatloaf is and has always been a stand-out family fav. Usually, I just make my Grandma’s meatloaf. It’s simple, no-fuss, no-frills, but it’s the best meatloaf I’ve ever tasted. It’s a relatively short list of ingredients, and it’s fairly simple to throw together, but whenever I’m asked for the recipe I have to explain that there actually isn’t one.
Do you have any idea how long it took for me to learn how to make my Grandma’s meatloaf?! There was no. recipe. This meant that any time I wanted to make meatloaf, or she was making up a batch for the freezer, I would pack up my Costco-sized packages of ground beef, and the other ingredients I needed, and go over to her house and stand in the kitchen for hours watching her ‘eyeball’ ingredients as she casually threw everything together into a giant bowl. The only part I was allowed to partici[pate in was getting my hands dirty and smooshing ans squishing everything together. I was an excellent meatloaf masher 😉
After several months of ‘eyeballing’ she must have seen something that told her I was ready for the next step. The next meatloaf day I showed up energized, packing my lean ground beef, and ready to finally give it a go. This lasted through like two ingredients before she ended up taking over and just doing it herself. She said it was easier. This happened every time. Every. time. Do you have any idea how frustrating this was? Yes, I’d end up taking home several great meatloafs, but I couldn’t make them at my own house or by myself. It was beyond me (and totally out of my comfort zone at the time) to experiment by throwing various amounts of food stuffs into a bowl full of hamburger meat and hoping for the best, or knowing when to add more liquidy stuffs and when you needed more dry crap. I thought it was hopeless, and resigned myself to my Grandma making, or taking over making, my meatloaves for the rest of my life. But, Grandma’s been gone for almost 6 years now and it turns out, that unbeknownst to me, she knew what she was doing. Even without a recipe, I can whip up a kick ass meatloaf, and I cherish all those memories of us in her kitchen that I might not have had as an adult without all our meatloaf days. Somewhere along the way, I observed enough to interpret and absorb her secret meatloaf makin’ ways 🙂
While Grandma’s meatloaf will always be our ‘put-up-on-a-pedestal’ favorite, we do enjoy trying other versions, especially ones that incorporate some of our favorite flavor combos. I like to think Grandma would be proud of our ingenuity and of pushing the recipe boundaries– something that would have been way out of her much more traditional kitchen comfort zone 😉 We’ve enjoyed bacon cheeseburger meatloaf, Mexican meatloaf, and even several Chicken versions. This recipe here though, is one of our most often enjoyed variations.
Think of your favorite meatloaf, then imagine that stuffed with your favorite french onion soup. And cheese. CHEESE! In our defense we usually stuff ours with mozzarella, but here Swiss is the perfect companion to the tender caramelized onions tucked up in our savory, prepared ground beef. This gourmet version is sure to wow the socks off of the family, and is a perfect option for those night’s when company’s coming.
French Onion Soup Stuffed Au Gratin Meatloaf
recipe adapted from Cupcakes & Kalechips
For the onions:
1 tbsp olive oil
3 medium-large onions, halved & thinly sliced
½ tbsp fresh thyme or ½ tsp dried thyme
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp pepper
¼ cup beef broth
¼ cup red wine, or red cooking wine
For the meatloaf:
2 lbs lean ground beef
½ cup bread crumbs or quick cooking, ground oats
2 tbsp minced fresh parsley
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp kosher salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups mozzarella, or Swiss, cheese, shredded, divided
For the sauce:
2½ cups beef broth
½ cup red wine, or red cooking wine
3 tbsp cornstarch
salt & pepper, to taste
For the onions:
1. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium. When the oil’s hot add in the onions, salt, and pepper and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently until they’ve caramelized.
2. Next, add the thyme and sauté for a minute or two, then add in the wine and beef broth.
3. Give everything a stir, and allow to continue cooking while the liquid reduces, until very little liquid remains in the skillet. Remove from heat and set aside.
For the meatloaf:
1. In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, bread crumbs or oats, parsley, pepper, salt, and eggs. Using your hands (you can wear latex gloves if you’re squeamish) squish everything together until evenly incorporated.
2. Lay the meat mixture out onto a piece of wax paper and press it out into a roughly 10×12-inch rectangle.
3. Set aside ½ cup of the cheese and ½ cup of the onions. Sprinkle the remaining 1½ cups cheese and onions evenly over the ground beef. Roll up like a jelly roll, starting from the short end, lifting the wax paper or plastic wrap as you roll. Seal the end completely, and place the loaf seam-side down into a 9×13-inch baking pan.
4. Place the meatloaf in the oven and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. While the meatloaf is baking, prepare the sauce. For the sauce: Whisk together the sauce ingredients in a small pot, bring the mixture to a boil, and simmer until thickened. Remove from heat and set aside
5. Remove the pan from the oven, pour the prepared sauce over the meatloaf, and sprinkle the top with the reserved onions and cheese.
7. Return the meatloaf to the oven for another 15-20 minutes, or until the meat is no longer pink on the inside. Place under the broiler for 2-3 minutes, or until the cheese on top is browned and bubbly.
8. Remove from oven and allow to stand 10 minutes. Slice and serve. Garnish with fresh parsley, if desired.