It shouldn't be like this. I want my seasons, dammit. Eating is so centered around them, if you live in an area to appreciate seasonal change. Sometimes Chicago has four seasons, but most years you get three. You're bound to have at least one chilly spring or a warm fall, negating those shoulder seasons that shift into the big ones. Of course it was 25 a couple days ago and now there's a string of days at bout 70F. That's to be expected.
Why would I want it to be cold, gloomy and possibly rainy outside? Because I want to have meatloaf. Classic meatloaf, with a mix of protein for varying taste and texture, complete with the well-known ketchup-based glaze on top. You can make it with any blend of meats, I do prefer the common meatball/meatloaf ratio of half 90-93% lean ground beef and half ground pork. Some stores package their own a mix, some include ground veal as well.
What was your version as Ma used to make it? Mine was covered in ketchup and sprinkled with Kraft parmesan cheese. Here we have this much loved and familiar flavor, tweaked with some updated techniques- don't even bother digging out a loaf pan, that just holds the fat in and it inhibits tasty browning with the extended surface area. And to adhere the glaze better you should broil the loaf before baking.
Classic Meatloaf, updated technique
1 C ketchup
1/4 C brown sugar, packed of course
2.5 TB cider vinegar
couple dashes your favorite hot sauce
EVOO or veggie oil
1 medium onion, fine dice
3 cloves garlic, minced
2/3 C crushed saltine crackers (bout 15 crackers)
2/3 C milk (high fat good)
1 lb. lean ground chuck or sirloin
1 lb. ground pork
2 large eggs plus one 1 yolk
2 ts good Dijon mustard
2 ts Worcestershire sauce
1/2 ts dried thyme, or a couple springs fresh
1/2 C fresh parsley, finely chopped
For the glaaaaaaze-
Add all ingredients to a small saucepan and whisk over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Remove a 1/4 C and reserve. Turn the heat down to low and simmer until slightly thickened, bout tree fo minutes. Then cover and keep in a warm area on the stovetop.
For the loaf-
Place a few turns of oil in a skillet over medium heat, then add the onion. Cook, stirring often, until softened, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and stir to combine, cook for 1 minute and then remove from heat. Transfer to a small bowl to let cool.
Pour the milk in a small bowl and then add the crushed saltines. Mix well and let sit for 5 minutes. During this rest, add the meat, onion, eggs, yolk, mustard, Worcestershire, thyme, parsley, and bout 1 ts kosher, 1/2 ts freshly cracked black pepper to the bowl of your stand mixer. Add the milk/cracker mixture. With the mixing blade, stir on 1 or 2, low, until just combined. Alternatively you can do this by hand, I just think it's easier this way if you process until just combined and don't kill the damn thing by mixing the hell out of it.
Place your top rack about 4" from the broiler, turn on high. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil, coat with spray, butter, or a touch of oil. Transfer the meat onto the sheet and shape by hand into a 9X5" loaf. Broil for 5 minutes, turning a few times to adjust to your broiler's temperance. You haven't mapped your broiler's hotspots? Brush 2 TB of the of the reserved glaze onto the loaf, then return to the broiler for 2 more minutes. The glaze should be nice and shiny brown, caramelizing them sugars.
Switch the oven to baking mode, set at tree fifty. It will probably be higher than that from broiling, which is fine for a bit. Brush with the remaining reserved glaze. Place the sheet in the middle of the oven and bake for about 40-45 minutes. The internal temp should be 160 degrees. Let rest, covered with foil, for at least 10 minutes. Slice and then serve with some of the cooked glaze.