There are countless meat loaf recipes in the world, but after trying this one, you may renounce all others: The meat is super moist and flavorful, the glaze is sweet and zingy, and because we shape the loaf wider and lower than is typical (think pillow, not football) and bake it on a sheet pan, there’s more delectable browned crust for everyone to fight over. The meat loaf cooks faster that way, too. Thickly sliced leftovers paired with good crusty bread and a generous smear of mayo also make killer sandwiches.
Many supermarkets carry premixed packs of “meatball” or “meat loaf” meat, a combination of ground beef, pork, and veal. If yours doesn’t, use one-third of each or half beef and half pork.
SERVES 6 TO 8
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 tablespoon (or to taste) Sriracha or hot sauce of your choice
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 cups cubed bread (supermarket bakery bread is fine)
1/2 cup buttermilk or whole milk
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
2 small carrots, finely chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 scant teaspoon dried
2 pounds “meatball” or “meat loaf” meat (see note above)
4 ounces pancetta or bacon (about 4 slices), finely diced
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 350°F, with a rack in the middle position. In a small bowl, stir together the ketchup, Sriracha, and vinegar, then set the glaze aside. In a large bowl, combine the bread and buttermilk and let soak while you prepare the onion mixture.
Line a sheet pan with foil for easier cleanup, if you like, then set aside. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, garlic, and thyme and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions and carrots are softened, about 8 minutes, then let the onion mixture cool for a few minutes.
Gently squeeze the bread, discard the excess buttermilk, and return the bread to the bowl. Add the meat, pancetta, egg, mustard, Worcestershire, onion mixture, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Gently mix together with your hands until evenly combined.
Turn the meat mixture out onto the prepared sheet pan and form a mounded loaf that’s about 5 inches wide and 12 inches long. Coat the meatloaf with the glaze, then bake until cooked through (160°F on an instant-read thermometer inserted horizontally into the center), about 45 minutes. Let rest for about 5 minutes, then cut the meatloaf crosswise into slices and serve.