3ouncesMonterey Jack cheesegrated on small holes of box grater (about 1 cup)
1/2cupcelerychopped fine (about 1 stalk)
1clovegarlicminced or pressed through a garlic press (about 1 teaspoon)
2teaspoonsminced fresh thyme leaves or 3/4 teaspoon dried
1/2cuplow-sodium chicken broth
2/3cupcrushed saltine crackers
2tablespoonsminced fresh parsley leaves
1/2teaspoonground black pepper
1poundground beef chuck
2tbsppacked light brown sugar
Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 375 degrees. Spread cheese on plate and place in freezer until ready to use.
Heat butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until foaming; add onion and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Add garlic, thyme, and paprika and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Reduce heat to low and add tomato juice. Cook, stirring to scrape up browned bits from pan, until thickened, about 1 minute. Transfer mixture to small bowl and set aside to cool.
Whisk broth and eggs in large bowl until combined. Sprinkle gelatin over liquid and let stand 5 minutes. Stir in soy sauce, mustard, saltines, parsley, salt, pepper, and onion mixture. Crumble frozen cheese into coarse powder and sprinkle over mixture. Add ground beef; mix gently with hands (I used a wooden spoon, a fork works well too, just don’t over mix it) until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute.
Shape meat mixture into a loaf, or use a loaf pan with a removable draining bottom like mine.
Spread half of the glaze over the meatloaf then put in the oven. After 40 minutes in the oven, remove and add remaining glaze. Put back in the oven and cook additional 15-20 minutes. (Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into center of loaf reads 135 to 140 degrees, about 55 to 65 minutes.)
Let meat loaf cool about 20 minutes before slicing.
I suggest both ground sirloin and ground chuck, but you can use one type of ground beef with a fat content of roughly 85/15. You want some fat for juiciness and flavor, but not too much that it's a greasy mess. In addition, meat with too high of a fat content will shrink, a lot.
Don't over mix the meat, it will make your meatloaf tough. Use a fork, or a wooden spoon, but only mix until everything comes together, you don't want to compact it and smash it all together. A few squeezes at the end with your hands will help bind the proteins. This will help the meatloaf stay together so it won't fall apart when cooked.
I use a meatloaf pan with a drip insert. If you haven't heard of one of these, and you like to make meatloaf, you should have one. It's basically an 8x4 loaf pan, but there's an additional insert pan with drain holes that you place inside the main pan. The meat cooks in the pan with the drain holes, this allows the fat to drip down away from the meat, landing in the pan below. There's one at Amazon here, I've had mine for several years.
Run a butter knife around the edges, assuming you used the pan I mention above, especially if there's any fat that pooled around the top and didn't drip down. This sometimes happens as the meat cooks, it blocks the crevice along the side. Just jimmy the knife around the loaf and let the fat fall down the side of it so it can drain.