A Kitchen Experiment Gone Ridiculously Right (No Tomato Meatloaf)

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Okay, so I did a thing today. I’ve been craving meatloaf but every recipe I’ve ever used has had ketchup in it. Ketchup in the actual loaf and then a honey/ketchup sauce on top.  Since tomatoes now cause allergic reactions, this was a problem.

Finally it hit me. Gravy! A mushroom and roasted garlic cream sauce to be exact. I wasn’t sure what to do with the ketchup in the recipe itself but I figured with such a nummy gravy, I could wing the rest.

I started posting pictures on my Facebook profile throughout the experiment and the response was almost as excited online as it was in the kitchen. This stuff smelled amazing!

(I promise there are pictures further down the post. And an explanation. But you have to keep reading.)

Sadly, as I so often do when winging things, I didn’t write anything down. I also didn’t really measure anything so all I have for you is a guide to the most incredible no tomato meatloaf I could have imagined.

Are you ready?

Let’s begin by constructing the loaf.

I started with somewhere around a pound and a half of ground sirloin. I think. I don’t know. Our grocery stores are rationing meat so when I saw ground beef I got super excited and grabbed two packages. I’m pretty sure it was ground sirloin.

I scrambled one egg, tossed in a handful of oats, a handful of panko breadcrumbs, and a handful each of green and red peppers. Then I saw the basket of sweet onions and chopped one of those up too.

No, I don’t exactly know which peppers I used. This last time that I ran to the grocery store I was a wee bit tired and when it came to chopping up the veggies I didn’t bag up the peppers correctly. Normally each pepper type gets its own bag, but for whatever reason (Was that you ‘Rona?) I decided to bag them by color. That means the red bag had both red sweet peppers and red jalapenos.  The green bag had a mixture of at least bell pepper, poblano, and jalapeno.  Maybe some Anaheim peppers.  Maybe some Serrano.  Just go with what you feel and I’m sure it will be fine.

At that point I added a few grinds of pepper, a small spoon (definitely not a 1/4 teaspoon or a tablespoon) of salt, and then a healthy pinch (probably closer to a full finger grab) each of thyme, rosemary, and sage.

I also might have added a figure eight of soy sauce.

That’s not a unit of measurement? It totally is. Trust me.

Then I just mixed it all together with my hands and formed it into a respectable loaf shape. Not too long, not too wide…just right.

If you’re wondering, this is a great time to remember to preheat your oven.  350 sounded just right to me.

Honestly all of that was just an excuse to make the gravy at this point. I was really excited to make the gravy.

I started by chopping an obscene amount of portobello mushrooms. And tossing a few…maybe five… tablespoons of butter in the cast iron skillet over low heat while I chopped.

I’m pretty sure it was five tablespoons. The kids leave me little knobs of leftover butter on all the refrigerator shelves as they cook so I just gathered what was there and went with it.

The smell of those mushrooms hitting that hot butter…it is life, People.  As always, when cooking mushrooms give them a sprinkle of kosher salt and let them go through the full process of cooking. First they release their liquid and then the get dry and beautifully browned. Just as that liquid was starting to cook off I added generous grabs of sage, rosemary, and thyme.

Probably a hefty teaspoon of each if I was measuring. I go by smell in these cases so you may need more or less depending on the potency of your herbs.

This is where I realized that I should probably take pictures.

Once it started really smelling good, it was time to up the ante. Roasted garlic. I just smooshed it right into the mushrooms and let it cook long enough to warm it up.

If you don’t keep roasted garlic in your refrigerator for moments like these, you might need to start rethinking your life.

Very quickly I added three spoons of flour into the skillet and stirred it around. Yep, just plain spoons like you eat cereal with. You really want that flour to cook for a minute or two to cook off that raw flour taste. It’s there for thickening, nothing else.

Again, I didn’t measure… I think added somewhere between half to three quarters of one of those boxes of beef broth. Watch your labels! It is incredibly hard to find a store bought beef broth that has neither tomato product or caramel coloring. You can do it, I have faith in you.

Better yet, find someone in the community that sells Mason jars of beef broth. Hello, Heaven.

Move quick with your spatula to stir it all in because it is going to thicken up fast, but don’t be overly concerned about lumps. As the great Chef John says, “Hot roux, cold liquid, no lumps!”

Then add in however much cream makes you slightly uncomfortable. I might’ve added more but I wanted to save some for my mashed potatoes and these perfectly ripe blackberries that I just picked up.

And that’s it! Our gravy is done!

Let’s slide our meatloaf into the gravy, and…

Time to put the baby in the oven!

I might have said that out loud and scared my children.

Kitchen witch problems. Hansel and Gretel gave us such a bad reputation.

Anywho. I let mine brown for about twenty minutes or so. No measurements means no timers, right?

After that I basted it with that amazing gravy whenever the mood struck.

Probably three or four times over the course of an hour and a half.

Long enough at any rate for the internal temperature to reach 160.

It was a little denser than I would have liked. And definitely a little more on the hot pepper side than I would have intentionally made it, but the flavor was absolutely amazing. It was almost absurd how well the heat from the peppers played off the creaminess of the gravy and the earthiness of the mushrooms. And the underneath all of it was just the hint of roasted garlic.


It was so good. All four kids went back for seconds, and Momma has the tiniest piece leftover for lunch tomorrow. With maybe a dollop of mashed potatoes. It’s ridiculous. But they don’t know about the cream and blackberries I hid in the outside fridge so I’m not complaining too loudly.

If you give the vague directions a try, let me know how it turns out. And remember…write down your experiments so you can share better with your friends.

Bright Blessings, Y’all!

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