This slightly spicy meatloaf is flavored with ancho chili, sautéed jalapeños, onions, and garlic. It takes inspiration from this awesome Cook's Illustrated recipe, which incorporates a bit of powdered gelatin and chicken stock to help the loaf stay moist and tender as it cooks. A molten cheddar cheese core oozes out when you slice it open and homemade chili sauce forms a burnished crust.
To get the cheese in the center, I lay half of the meat mixture (a combination of beef, pork, and veal) in a loaf pan, make a well in the center, and fill it with cubed cheese before adding the top layer of meat.
Why this recipe works:
- Bloomed gelatin is incorporated into the mixture, helping to keep the loaf moist and meaty.
- Flavor bombs, including tomato juice, Dijon mustard and ancho chili powder, banish blandness.
- A quick, easy chili glaze forms a glistening crust as the loaf bakes in the oven, while a cheddar cheese filling turns gooey and lush.
- For the Glaze:
- 1 cup ketchup
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/2 tablespoon cider vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- For the Meatloaf:
- 1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, minced (about 1 cup)
- 1 large jalapeño, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
- 2 large eggs, lightly whisked
- 1/4 cup homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock
- 1/2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
- 1 pound ground beef
- 1/2 pound ground pork
- 1/2 pound ground veal
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons Dijon or prepared mustard
- 1 1/2 tablespoons tomato juice
- 1/2 teaspoon ancho chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 21 Saltine crackers, finely crushed
- 1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
- Non-stick cooking spray
- 6 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, cut into long strips
For the Glaze: Combine ketchup, tomato paste, water, brown sugar, cider vinegar, and chili powder in a small saucepan. Season with salt and pepper, whisk again and set aside.
For the Meatloaf: Heat olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, jalapeño, and garlic, and cook, stirring often, until tender and translucent, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool.
Whisk eggs and chicken stock in a medium bowl. Sprinkle with gelatin and let rest for 5 minutes. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 375°F.
Add beef, pork, veal, Worcestershire sauce, Dijon, tomato juice, ancho powder, oregano, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, saltines, and Parmesan cheese to the bowl with the cooled onion mixture. Add egg mixture and combine using hands, taking care not to over-mix.
Spray loaf pan with cooking spray. Pack half of the meat lightly and evenly into the loaf pan, creating a well lengthwise down the center and leaving about an inch not indented on either end. Fill well with cheddar cheese. Top with remaining half of meat mixture, pressing to seal and enclose the cheese. Spread with half of the glaze and transfer meatloaf to the oven to cook.
Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted in center of loaf registers 150 to 155°F, about 55 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest 20 minutes. Meanwhile, simmer the remaining glaze over medium heat until slightly thickened. Slice meat loaf and serve, passing additional sauce alongside.