One bite of Ina Garten’s meatloaf with a twist, and you’ll have two thoughts: "Oh my, this is some delicious meatloaf," and, "There has to be some secret ingredient here!"
You’ll be right on both fronts, because it is, and there is. But if you think it’s a complex and daunting take on meatloaf you could never manage to make yourself, you’ll be glad to know how wrong you are on that front. According to chef and recipe developer Stephanie Rapone of Pantry to Plate, "This one is easy and pretty foolproof!"
So, what is the twist? Well, if you follow the career of Ina Garten, aka the Barefoot Contessa, you know that the dishes she shares are always big on flavor. So, it should come as no surprise that the secret ingredient in this meatloaf is … crushed pork rinds (which are so darn tasty)!
The pork rinds add an incredible savoriness and complexity entirely unexpected from an admittedly uncomplicated snack food, which is why said snack food can remain your little secret … and that of anyone else who finds this recipe. Okay, so it’s no secret at all, which is why we’re instead going with the term "twist." Now, let’s go ahead and get cooking!
Gather your ingredients for Ina Garten’s meatloaf with a twist
Some of the ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen. A few others, you likely don’t. (Fried pork rinds, we’re looking at you.)
This recipe calls for olive oil, a bag frozen chopped onions, kosher salt, dried thyme, freshly ground black pepper, Worcestershire sauce, canned chicken stock or broth, tomato paste, ground beef, pork rinds, eggs, and ketchup. Now, to be clear, you can use fresh diced onions, and hey, you can even make your own chicken stock from scratch, but why would you when the frozen chopped onions and canned stock work just as well?
Prep the onions for Ina Garten’s meatloaf with a twist
First off, pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Next, heat the olive oil in a medium sauté pan, then add the onions, thyme, salt, and pepper, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for about eight to ten minutes, until the onions are translucent and fragrant but not brown. Don’t let them start to caramelize, and drop or even cut the heat if they do. Once the onions are good and soft, move the pan off of the burner.
Once off the heat, add the Worcestershire sauce, chicken stock, and tomato paste to the spiced and herbed onions, and stir well. Then, allow the mixture to cool slightly while you prepare the other ingredients.
Crush the pork rinds, and beat the eggs
Place about 2 cups of whole pork rinds in a plastic bag, and then use the bottom of a measuring cup to crush to the coarseness of breadcrumbs. You can also use a wooden mallet or a tenderizing hammer. Just make sure not to crush the rinds too much — you don’t want a fine powder or anything! Measure out ½ cup of the crushed pork rinds for the recipe. (Note that the rinds are not used along with breadcrumbs, a staple in most meatloaf recipes, but rather, they are fully replacing them.)
Next up, beat the eggs with a fork in a small bowl, and set it at the ready.
Combine all the ingredients, and form the meatloaf
In a large bowl, combine the ground chuck, the onion mixture, the crushed pork rinds, and the beaten eggs, and lightly mix everything with your hands. Don’t overwork the meat or it can get too dense and will come out too tough when cooked.
Next, line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil. If you use foil, spray it with non-stick cooking spray. In the middle of the sheet pan, shape the mixture into a rectangular loaf measuring about the width and height of a smaller loaf of bread (so 4 to 5 inches wide and about 3 inches high). Spread the ketchup evenly on top.
Bake the meatloaf, and then enjoy
Finally, it’s time to bake. Pop the ketchup-coated meatloaf into the pre-heated oven, and bake it at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour and 15 minutes, until the internal temperature reads as 160 degrees Fahrenheit and the meatloaf is cooked through.
Then, let the loaf rest for ten minutes before slicing and serving. For the perfect pairing, Rapone recommends sautéed or roasted green beans. And on the off chance there’s any meatloaf left over, Rapone says, "It will keep in the fridge in an airtight container for five days. [It] makes delicious leftovers on its own or as a sandwich. Just reheat [it] in the microwave in one-minute increments until hot."
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 12-ounce bag frozen chopped onions (3 cups)
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- ⅓ cup canned chicken stock or broth
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 ½ pounds ground chuck
- 2 cups pork rinds
- 2 large eggs
- ½ cup ketchup
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium sauté pan, then add the chopped onions, 1 teaspoon of dried thyme, 2 teaspoons of salt, and 1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for eight to ten minutes, until the onions are translucent but not brown.
- Remove from the heat, add 3 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce, ⅓ cup of chicken stock, and 1 tablespoon of tomato paste, and allow to cool slightly while you prepare the other ingredients.
- Place 2 cups of pork rinds in a plastic bag, then crush to the coarseness of breadcrumbs. Measure ½ cup of the crushed pork rinds for the recipe.
- Beat 2 eggs with a fork in a small bowl.
- In a large bowl, combine 2 ½ pounds of ground chuck, the onion mixture, crushed pork rinds, and eggs, and mix lightly with your hands. Don’t overwork the meat.
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil (if you use foil, spray with non-stick spray).
- Shape the mixture into a rectangular loaf, measuring about the height and width of a loaf of bread (4 or 5 inches wide and about 3 inches high) on sheet pan.
- Spread the ketchup evenly on top of meatloaf.
- Bake for 1 hour to an hour and 15 minutes, until the internal temperature is 160 degrees Fahrenheit and the meatloaf is cooked through.
- Rest ten minutes before slicing and serving.