This recipe was one of the five meals my mom had in her heavy weeknight rotation to feed our family of six. I loved the way she made three holes in the loaf and filled each one with a reservoir of spicy ketchup, so each bite had a touch of it. Little details like a pool of ketchup create a memorable dinner experience for a little kid -- never to be forgotten.
I grate the onions to avoid unpleasantly large chunks in the meat loaf; use a box grater and they'll melt into the meat mixture as it cooks. Grated carrots help keep the loaf moist.
1. Preheat the oven to 325°F with a rack in the middle position. In a large bowl, soak the bread crumbs in the milk for 5 minutes.
2. Add the beef, onions, carrots, egg, salt, and pepper to the bread crumb mixture. Mix gently.
3. Shape the meat mixture into a loaf and put it in an 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-inch loaf pan. Make 3 holes, evenly spaced lengthwise, in the meat loaf and fill them to the top with the sauce. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until firm to the touch. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
4. Pour any accumulated juices over the top of the meat loaf. Slice and serve with the remaining chili sauce on the side.
Makes 3/4 cup
Excerpted from Mad Hungry Cravings by Lucinda Scala Quinn (Artisan Books). Copyright 2013. Photographs by Jonathan Lovekin.
Many well-known chefs work with food scientist Harold McGee, author of Keys to Good Cooking: A Guide to Making the Best of Foods and Recipes. McGee explains why thawing small cuts of meat in 100-degree water is perfectly safe.