Sometimes this obsession with food has its benefits. (Excuse me, please, while I pat myself on the back for this one, although I’m quite certain someone somewhere has also thought of it – they can get equal kudos for their obvious culinary brilliance.)
I love burgers. I love meatloaf sandwiches. (Meatloaf sandwiches are the best, aren’t they? I mean, they are more often than not my motivation for making meatloaf in the first place. On soft bread, with ketchup.)
I don’t often make burgers at home, partly because I hate the pressure of grilling them to perfection without over-or-under-cooking them, and not wanting to poke the tip of the knife into the middle of each one to be sure. (This could also have something to do with my underlying prejudice against homemade burgers, instilled at an early age when my Dad would broil patties made with extra-lean ground beef and oat bran in approximately a 50-50 ratio. He’s a gastroenterologist; I suppose this excuses him for being a particularly vocal advocate of fiber. Needless to say, my first fast-food burger was, unfortunately, a mind-blowing revelation.)
So it occurred to me that one could morph meatloaf and burgers on the barbecue. You make your meatloaf, using whatever recipe you like, and then chill it. Later, you cut thick slabs and heat them through on the grill, brushing them with barbecue sauce or the sticky glaze normally reserved for the top of a meatloaf. This technique relieves any pressure of whomever is in charge of the barbecue to ensure they cook the burgers through. Because hey, the meatloaf is cooked already. If you’re a cheeseburger person, add a slab of aged white cheddar (or, you know, whatever) after the first flip, and close the lid so that it melts. (Closing the lid traps heat, creating an oven environment. SO much is possible on the grill. Come back later this week and I’ll fill you in on grilling pizza.)
Meanwhile, here’s a good, basic meatloaf recipe for ya:
canola or olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped or grated
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 1/2 2 lb. ground beef, bison or a combination of beef or bison and pork
1 cup bread crumbs or 1/2 cup crushed crackers or quick oats
1/2 cup tomato sauce or ketchup
1 large egg
1-2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
salt & pepper
1/4 cup ketchup, tomato sauce or chili sauce
1 Tbsp. packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp. grainy mustard
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil (if you want to do your loaf freehand otherwise you can use a 9×5³ loaf pan.
Heat a drizzle of oil in a medium skillet set over medium heat and sauté the onion and garlic for about 5 minutes, until soft. In a large bowl, combine the meat, sautéed onion and garlic, bread crumbs, tomato sauce, egg, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper. Mix everything together with your hands until it’s well-blended; just don’t work it too hard or it could get tough. Shape the meat mixture into a loaf shape that’s roughly 9×5³ on the baking sheet or press it into a 9×5³ loaf pan.
To make the glaze, stir together the ketchup, sugar and mustard in a small dish. Brush the loaf with half the glaze and bake for 30 minutes. Brush with the remaining glaze and bake for another 30-45 minutes. (If you have a meat thermometer, the internal temperature should read 160°F.) Let the meatloaf rest for about 15 minutes before you cut it. Serves 6-8.