I hope you don’t mind my eking out the last few not-terribly-springy recipes here. I try to post at least relatively seasonal dishes, but sometimes life (or attempting to be handy at home when you’re not, or NHL playoffs, or laziness) get in the way. That said, my kids are meatball and meatloaf-obsessed, so they are more than happy to eat these year-round, and I can’t say I would argue with them.
I mentioned a while back that I’d never made a true meatloaf until fairly recently, but before that I used to make mini meatloaves pretty frequently. It actually started with a Kraft recipe that used Stovetop Stuffing in the meatloaves and then evolved from there. I’d later disguise meatballs as meatloaves (loaf shaped, but with a marinara glaze and stuffed with mozzarella), which allowed me to basically swap out pasta for mashed potatoes. I’ve had these mini meatloaves on my to-make list since I got Deb’s book but, like I said, life.
This is a pretty standard meatloaf/meatball recipe with just enough subtleties to make it a little different. The smoked paprika is a great addition and what is essentially a “pestata” of minced carrots/onion/celery add flavor and moistness to the meatballs. The glaze is perhaps not as sweet as traditional glazes (I actually added a bit more honey and less Dijon, because I don’t like Dijon in large doses) but pairs well with the meat and is so easy to make. It can be hard to make moist meatballs using just beef (and I am here to admit I used pretty lean beef, on top of it) but these are it.
Tomato-Glazed Mini Meatloaves
Adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
4 tsp. vegetable or canola oil
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 Tbsp. cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. honey
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. Dijon
salt to taste
2 slices sandwich bread, torn up
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 celery rib, chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled and chopped
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt, plus more for vegetables
ground black pepper
2 lbs. ground beef
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. Dijon
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Combine the glaze ingredients in a small saucepan. Simmer, whisking constantly, for about 2 minutes, until smooth. Set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350º.
Place the bread in a food processor and pulse until breadcrumbs are made. Remove them from the processor and put them in a large bowl.
To the food processor, add the onion, garlic, celery, and carrot and pulse until very finely chopped. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat and add the pulsed vegetables and salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring frequently, until they begin to brown, about 10 minutes.
To the bowl with the breadcrumbs, add the salt, pepper, ground beef, eggs, tomato paste, smoked paprika, Dijon, Worcestershire, milk, parsley, and softened vegetables. Use your hands to mix everything until just combined, being careful not to overmix. Form 3-4 oz. meatballs (about 12-16 total) and space them out in a baking dish or rimmed sheet. Brush or drizzle each meatball with 1-2 tsp. of the glaze and bake until cooked through, about 22 minutes. Serve with remaining glaze.