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~ My Cut-to-the-Chase Pan-Seared Meatloaf Burgers ~

IMG_1227Eating a meatloaf sandwich the day after a meatloaf dinner is like eating a turkey sandwich the day after Thanksgiving -- the anticipation of the ritual gives you a reason to get out of bed in the morning.  I adore a good old-fashioned back-to-basics meatloaf dinner with all the trimmings (with mashed potatoes and gravy or macaroni and cheese) as much as I adore a traditional, well-appointed Turkey dinner.  It's simple, straightforward, mouthwatering comfort food.  That said, in my food world, the all-important sandwich I indulge in the following day is almost better.  

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d27640d2970cIt goes without saying, everyone has a favorite meatloaf recipe -- including me.  None of that greasy meatloaf mix for me, and, dry, bland ground turkey need not apply.  My meatloaf (my mother's recipe) is made exclusively with ground beef, and, slapping bacon on it or painting it with ketchup or barbecue sauce is strictly prohibited in my kitchen.  My meatloaf is crispy-on-the-outside and fork-tender-'n-juicy on the inside, with enough drippings to make some gravy too. The leftovers are unadulterated -- ready to be slapped between two slices of soft Wonder white bread.

IMG_1102All said, when it's a mouthwatering meatloaf sandwich I'm craving, I cut straight to the chase.  I get out my skillet and pan-sear some meatloaf burgers.  My recipe makes 8, 8-ounce burgers, enough for Joe and I to enjoy in different ways for four full days.

IMG_1032For eight burger patties:

2 1/2-3  pounds extra-lean ground beef (90/10)

4  ounces saltine crackers (1 sleeve of crackers from a 1-pound box), crumbled by hand into small bits and pieces, not processed to crumbs.

1  cup milk

2  extra-large eggs, lightly beaten

2  tablespoons salted butter

1  cup small-diced yellow or sweet onion

1  cup small diced celery

2  tablespoons dried parsley leaves

2  teaspoons granulated beef bouillon

3/4  teaspoon sea salt

3/4  teaspoon coarse-grind black pepper

6  tablespoons corn oil, just enough to coat bottom of pan, for frying burger patties

1/2  cup water, (optional), for deglazing pan if gravy is wanted 

IMG_1036 IMG_1036 IMG_1036 IMG_1036 IMG_1036 IMG_1036 IMG_1036~Step 1.  Place crackers in a large bowl.  Using your fingers, crush crackers into small bits and pieces.  Add the 1-cup milk and stir to combine.  In the same 1-cup measuring container, use a fork to lightly-beat the 2 eggs, then stir them into the cracker mixture.  Set aside about 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, to allow the crackers time to absorb all of the liquid.  The resulting mixture will be thick and pasty.

IMG_1055 IMG_1055 IMG_1055 IMG_1055 IMG_1055 IMG_1055~Step 2.  In a 10" skillet melt butter over low heat. Add the onion and celery along with the parsley flakes, beef bouillon, salt and pepper. Adjust heat to medium and sauté until onion and celery are nicely softened, 4-5 minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to cool about 10 minutes.  Stir the still-warm vegetable mixture to the cracker mixture.

IMG_1076 IMG_1076 IMG_1076~Step 3.  Add the ground beef to the cracker and vegetable mixture.  Using your hands (it's the most efficient), combine the two.  Using a kitchen scale as a measure, divided mixture into 8 equal portions, about 8-ounces each.

IMG_1086 IMG_1086 IMG_1101 IMG_1101 IMG_1101 IMG_1101~Step 4.  Form the burger portions into 4"-round patties, placing them in a 12", 5 1/2-quart chef's pan to which 6 tablespoons corn oil has been added.  Turn heat on to medium- medium-high and sauté patties until golden on both sides, about 10-12 minutes per side, flipping them over only once during the cooking process.  Transfer burgers to a large plate or platter and set aside.  Add 1/2 cup water to the pan.  Using a spatula, deglaze the pan by scraping the flavorful browned bits from the bottom and continue to cook until almost all water has evaporated and only loosened brown bits remain in bottom of pan, about 1 minute. In this same pan of meat drippings, prepare gravy, according to the following directions:

IMG_1195 IMG_1195 IMG_1195 IMG_1210 IMG_1210 IMG_1210 IMG_1210 IMG_1210~Step 5.  To prepare the optional gravy (read Cook's Note below), over low heat, melt 6 tablespoons salted butter into drippings.  Once butter has melted, stir in 6 tablespoon flour. Increase heat to medium.  Stir until  mixture (referred to as a roux) is pasty (it will not be completely smooth because there are bits of ground beef goodness in there), 1-2 minutes.  Add 2 cups beef stock to pan. Adjust heat to medium-high and simmer, until nicely thickened to your liking, about 3 minutes.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.  Recipe yields 2 cups gravy.

Served hot w/shredded lettuce, steak sauce & French fried onions:

IMG_1263Served cold w/mayo, shredded lettuce & sliced tomato:

IMG_1235Served hot or cold w/creamy coleslaw & dill pickle chips:

IMG_1252My Cut-to-the-Chase Pan-Seared Meatloaf Burgers:  Recipe yields 8, 8-ounce meatloaf patties/8 servings.

Special Equipment List:  cutting board; chef's knife; 1-cup measuring container; fork; 10" skillet; large spoon; kitchen scale; 12"-14" chef's pan w/straight, deep sides; spatula

IMG_1156Cook's Note:  Meatloaf burgers are great served exactly like sliced meatloaf, on a plate to be eaten with a knife-and-fork.  There are enough drippings in the pan to make 2 cups of flavorful gravy, which makes them great served next to some mac and cheese, or, atop a bed of fluffy mashed potatoes with a green vegetable to the side.  For another way to serve meatloaf burgers as a knife-and-fork meal, try my easy recipe for ~ Oh-My-Goodness Retro Rice-a-Burger-Roni ~. 

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2020)


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