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Thursday, August 11, 2011


I am of the "I love meatloaf" school. I think most people do--it's a comfort food. But I know people who don't like it. My brother used to refuse to eat it because it was peasant food--I won't point out to him it's on some of the most upscale menus. My oldest daughter never liked it, and I remember once when I tried a recipe for cold meatloaf, she said, "Omigosh! You aren't serving it cold, are you?" She claims now mine was always gelatinous (even the word is horrible). Her older brother swears she'll eat his meatloaf these days, but I haven't tried mine on her in years.
Then there are so many varieties of meatloaf. A basic question: do you want tomato sauce on it or not? I never put sauce on it when I make it, but just last night I had one of my favorite meatloaf dishes at the Old Neighborhood Grill: it's heavily covered with a chunky tomato sauce with onions and green peppers (I usually can't eat green peppers but these are cooked to mush--probably canned tomatoes with onion and peppers). At the Star Cafe, they use my friend Betty's recipe which calls for green peppers--sometimes I pick them out, but I love meatloaf day up there.
Then there's buffalo meatloaf, all the rage these days when we've learned that buffalo is such lean meat. You have to use a recipe specifically designed for buffao or else mix in a little ground beef--otherwise your meatloaf will be too dry. I have one recipe that uses chopped musthrooms to add moisture. You can find a variety of bison meatloaf recipes on the internet.
I've even made a stuffed meatloaf, where you spread the seasoned meat in a jellyroll pan, cover it with whatever--I think this was chopped hard boiled eggs, croutons, spinach and herbs--and then roll it jellyroll fashion.
I admit in my salad days I made less than perfect meatloaf. My mom, if I remember correctly, used half pork sausage, half ground beef, salt and pepper, maybe a bit of bread crumbs, and probably an egg. Besides, Megan's accusation of gelatinous (which probably comes from making it in a bread pan where the juices collected at the botom), Colin used to say when I made meatloaf from scrach, I got more filler than meat in it. Then I discovered Hunt's Meat Loaf Fixin's and followed their directions--pretty good.  I've been tempted a time or two by cheeseburger meatloaf, but now I have a standard recipe I really like. I adapted it from one published in Texas Co-op Power several years ago and the big thing is you make it in an iron skillet.

1-1/2 lbs. ground beef (I often use a lb. of bison and 1/2 lb. ground chuck)
3/4 cup white bread crumbs--Panko is you're feeling elegant, otherwise whatever bread is left in your freezer than you can turn to crumbs in the processor
5 Tbsp. ketchup
3 Tbsp. salad mustard (not Dijon or that fancy stuff)
3-1/2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
1-1/2 tsp. black pepper
3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
3 garlic cloves, mashed in a garlic press
3/4 tsp. onion powder
2/3 cup chopped celery
4 Tbsp. chopped onion
If mixture is dry, add a little water--never more than 1/4 cup
Note: there are no eggs in this

The only way to mix meatloaf is to wash your hands thoroughly and dig in until all ingredients are thoroughly mixed. Then spray your cast iron skillet with oil and pat the meatloaf evenly into the skillet. Bake at 375 for 45-50 minutes, until it is well browned. Want a sauce? That's up to you, but my family likes it plain. You can use a premade tomato sauce, invent  your own, pour Rotel tomatoes over it--do this for maybe the last ten minutes of cooking. Or make up a cheese sauce with canned cheese soup and white wine and serve on the side. Serves six.


  1. I am in the "love meatloaf" camp but only in the fall/winter. I make mine with 1/2 ground turkey and 1/2 ground beef to make it leaner. But you really have to mix it well.

  2. I love meatloaf! Heard about your new book, it sounds great!! =)

  3. Thanks, Melissa--hope you look up Skeleton in a Dead Space. And Cara, turkey is a good idea. I made a turkey meatloaf once with chopped mushrooms to keep it moist. My son-in-law, who hates mushrooms, ate two huge helpings. Jordan and I just grinned.