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Perfect Soft-and-Moist Meat Loaf
A tremendous comfort-food rating, and makes it a perfect partner for any pale gravy you'd like to pour over or around it

Ingredients:
3 cups soft white bread cubes
1 egg
2/3 cup milk
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped celery with leaves
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
12 slices bacon, lightly browned and torn into small pieces
2 pounds ground beef

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Place bread cubes in large bowl. Beat egg and milk together in small bowl, then pour over bread cubes. Let stand until bread absorbs milk, about 15 minutes. Mash and stir mixture until bread is in very small chunks.
3. Add mustard, salt, pepper, basil, thyme, nutmeg, onion, celery, parsley, and bacon. Mix well. Add ground beef, and mix well. Refrigerate overnight.
4. Turn mixture into 8 inch by 5 inch loaf pan. Bake in oven for 55 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before slicing.

This style of meat loaf achieves its distinction by using cubes of white bread (not bread crumbs) that have been soaked in eggs and milk; the finished texture is very tender, and not particularly dense. The particular soft-and-moist loaf given here has a few other virtues. It is rather subtly seasoned, allowing the flavor of the beef to come through. It is not free-standing, but cooked in a loaf pan -- which minimizes the browning that occurs on the outside of the meat loaf, further emphasizing the soft and moist textural qualities. And it is pale, without any tomato coating -- which gives it a tremendous comfort-food rating, and makes it a perfect partner for any pale gravy you'd like to pour over or around it. Serves 6