Erin French, chef and owner of The Lost Kitchen in Freedom, Maine and star of The Lost Kitchen on Magnolia Network, recently shared her father’s recipe for meat loaf with Ina Garten. This family recipe is legendary in Erin’s house, and she was excited to share the tradition with Ina.

There are a few interesting ingredients along the way that make this meat loaf an intriguing twist on the classic recipe—like shredded carrots, pecorino and fresh thyme.

How to Make Erin French’s Meat Loaf


Meat loaf:

2 cups (1/2-inch-diced) bread cubes, such as crusty sourdough
1/2 cup whole milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup grated carrots
1/2 cup chopped shallots
1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese
1-1/2 pounds ground beef
1-1/2 pounds ground pork
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons kosher salt
6 to 8 twists of a pepper grinder


3/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard


Step 1: Soak the bread

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

In a large bowl, add the bread cubes, whole milk and lightly beaten eggs. Mix to combine and allow to soak while you prepare the remaining meat loaf ingredients.

Step 2: Mix the meat loaf

To the bowl, add the grated carrots, chopped shallots, pecorino cheese, ground beef, ground pork, fresh thyme, salt and pepper. Mix with your hands until combined. Do not overmix! You don’t want the finished meat loaf to be tough.

Divide the mixture between two 9 x 5-inch loaf pans and set aside.

Step 3: Make the glaze

In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar, ketchup and mustard. Brush the top of each meat loaf with a thick coat of the glaze.

Step 4: Bake the meat loaf

Transfer to the oven and bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the middle registers 150°, about 45 minutes.

Step 5: Rest and serve

Let the meat loaves rest for 10 to 15 minutes, unmold from the pans, cut into slices and serve.

Here’s What We Thought

We can see why this meat loaf recipe has survived the test of time in Erin French’s family! It’s the perfect combination of a traditional homestyle meat loaf that we all know and love, along with a few surprising additions that make it stand out.

The cornerstone of Erin French’s meat loaf recipe is the addition of grated carrot to the mix. She says this was the signature ingredient of her dad’s recipe and what makes it so special. Erin suggests grating the carrot on the coarsest part of a box grater, since she really wants you to see the carrot in every slice. We loved this addition and found it added a pleasant sweetness and unique texture.

Another interesting twist in this version of meat loaf is that Erin calls for 1/2-inch cubes of bread instead of fresh bread crumbs or torn bread. Again, this results in small pieces of bread throughout each slice of meat loaf, adding texture and interest. While she and Ina used sourdough on the show, Erin noted that her dad would use the leftover heels of soft white bread from the end of breakfast service at his restaurant.

Finally, we like the flexibility this recipe provides. Erin prefers to use pecorino cheese in the meat loaf, but her dad would often toss in a handful of mozzarella. While she likes the saltiness and flavor that comes from the sheep’s milk cheese, she allows the home cook leeway to use whatever cheese they happen to have on hand.

In the end, this recipe has taken up residency in my kitchen as part of our regular meal rotation!

The post We Made Erin French’s Meat Loaf Recipe, and It’s Going to Be Our New Sunday Night Dinner appeared first on Taste of Home.