Welcome to our exquisite Cracker Barrel Meatloaf recipe, a timeless classic that combines the richness of ground beef, the savory essence of Ritz crackers, and the perfect blend of seasonings, all topped with a delightful ketchup and brown sugar glaze. This is a dish that will transport you back to the good old days of hearty home-cooked meals. So, let’s dive into the history, ingredients, and detailed step-by-step instructions to help you recreate this culinary masterpiece in your own kitchen.
History of Cracker Barrel Meatloaf
The origins of meatloaf can be traced back to the early 19th century, where it was a creative way to use up leftover meat and extend it into a full meal. The term “meatloaf” itself is believed to have been coined in the United States in the 19th century. Over the years, meatloaf recipes have evolved, and regional variations have emerged. One of the most beloved renditions is the Cracker Barrel Meatloaf, known for its comforting and familiar taste. It’s a dish that’s synonymous with warmth, nostalgia, and good old-fashioned American cooking.
For the Meatloaf:
- 2 eggs
- 2/3 cup milk
- 32 Ritz crackers, crushed
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 4 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
- 1 1/2 lbs ground beef
For the Glaze:
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon mustard
Preparing the Meatloaf
- Gather the Ingredients: Assemble all the components for your Cracker Barrel Meatloaf. This step ensures a smooth and efficient cooking process.
- Preheat the Oven: Begin by preheating your oven to 350°F (175°C). Proper oven temperature is essential for even cooking.
- Mix the Wet Ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs and then add the milk. Stir until they are well combined.
- Incorporate the Ritz Crackers: Now, it’s time to add the crushed Ritz crackers into the egg and milk mixture. Stir until the crackers absorb the liquid and form a thick, cohesive mixture.
- Add Chopped Onion and Cheese: Gently fold in the chopped onion and shredded sharp cheddar cheese. These ingredients will infuse the meatloaf with their wonderful flavors.
- Season to Perfection: Sprinkle in the salt and pepper. These seasonings are key to enhancing the overall taste of your meatloaf.
- Integrate Ground Beef: Incorporate the ground beef into the mixture. Knead it gently but thoroughly to ensure that all ingredients are evenly distributed.
Shaping the Meatloaf
- Form the Loaf: On a baking sheet or in a loaf pan, shape the meatloaf mixture into a loaf form. Ensure it’s compact and evenly shaped to allow for uniform cooking.
Preparing the Glaze
- Create the Glaze: In a separate bowl, combine ketchup, brown sugar, and mustard to make the glaze. This sweet and tangy glaze will add an irresistible layer of flavor to your meatloaf.
- Glaze the Meatloaf: Generously spread the glaze over the top of the meatloaf, ensuring it’s completely covered.
- Bake to Perfection: Place the meatloaf in the preheated oven and bake for approximately 1 hour. Keep a close eye on it during the last 10-15 minutes, and if needed, you can add more glaze for a glossy finish.
- Check for Doneness: The meatloaf is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 160°F (71°C). Use a meat thermometer to verify this.
- Rest and Slice: Allow the meatloaf to rest for a few minutes before slicing. This helps the juices redistribute, ensuring a moist and flavorful result.
Serving Your Cracker Barrel Meatloaf
Serve your Cracker Barrel Meatloaf alongside your favorite sides, such as mashed potatoes, green beans, or a fresh garden salad. The combination of flavors and textures will surely delight your taste buds.
Now, you have the perfect recipe for making a Cracker Barrel Meatloaf that’s sure to impress your family and friends. Enjoy this classic American comfort food, and create lasting memories around the dinner table.