Welcome to Slow Cooker Week, in which The Takeout uses its favorite cold-weather kitchen appliance in the dead of summer.
To my mind, meatloaf really has an unfair bad rap (the dinner, not the singer). It’s often dissed as a lesser evening meal unless it’s dolled up with some pricey cuts of beef or wrapped in pancetta with a veal reduction or something. I’ve always been a fan of the basic domestic dish, which is unsurprising since the only person who likes ground-beef-based family dinners more than I do is Carol Brady. Tacos, sloppy joes, spaghetti and meat sauce? I am down.
So I was already on the meatloaf train, but my ardor increased several levels once I started making it in the Crock-Pot. I don’t even remember how I got the idea, except at the time, with twin babies crawling around, I was putting every thing in the Crock-Pot, from my garbage chicken dish to applesauce. Now I can say straight up that it’s the dinner I most enjoy with the least amount of prep work. Yes, even more than garbage chicken. I don’t know why, exactly (something something science), but the dryness that plagues regular oven-cooked meatloaf is nowhere to be found in the delectable moistness of the Crock-Pot meatloaf, which practically falls off of your fork. It has to be tasted to be believed. Mash some potatoes, boil some frozen peas, and you have a dinner classic.
So I’m including my recipe honed over several years below; I’ve learned to sauté the vegetables in butter before I stir them in and toss in some cream of balsamic (reduced balsamic vinegar with some brown sugar and black pepper added) for some added flavor. But if you have a beloved meatloaf recipe already, go for it; just suit it up and throw it in the Crock-Pot. The only caveat is that this is not one of those set-it-and-forget-it dishes. A one-pound meatloaf only needs about five hours in the Crock-Pot on the low setting. If you let it go all day, it will resemble shoe leather. And nobody wants a ruined meatloaf on their hands, when they could be having the greatest, easiest dinner of their lives. I made this in the Onion, Inc. kitchen last week and people actually turned away from watching the World Cup to taste it, that’s how good it was. Meatloaf fans unite.
- 1 lb. lean ground beef
- 1/2 cup diced onion and green peppers, sautéed in a little butter and cooled
- 1/4 cup breadcrumbs
- 1 egg
- 1 Tbsp. ground oregano
- 1 Tbsp. ketchup
- 1 Tbsp. cream of balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp. kosher or seasoned salt
- 1/2 tsp. pepper
- More ketchup for artistic ketchup glaze on top
Use hands to combine all ingredients thoroughly in a bowl. Then form into a football-like oval shape and squirt more ketchup on top. Wrap in tin foil and place in Crock-Pot. Cook for five hours in low or until the meat thermometer reads 150 degrees. Serve with ketchup or barbecue sauce if you so desire.