Thursday, August 6, 2015

Days of Wine and. . Meatloaf?

One of the first things I want when I return from the road is real home cooking.  I am not a fan of most restaurant food, no matter where I'm at (with the exception being good Thai food). I'd prefer just a meal like Mom used to make.

Like meatloaf.  Meatloaf dates back to Roman times, and pretty much every generation has found a way to combine ground or minced meat with savory items.  It really took off in the Depression, where homemakers got creative stretching those small precious portions of meat during hard times and war time.

Being a little kid in the 60's I remember meatloaf was on about everyone's menu each week,  I still grin when I look at some of the elaborate meals featured in  magazines and cookbooks from that decade.  Sure - after putting in a 12 hour day and commuting in traffic, I have the inclination to make a meatloaf igloo to go with my jello salad iceberg.
Whether topped with ketchup glaze, barbecue sauce, or mashed potatoes, meatloaf is one of those dishes that will always be around.

You can make it simple or complicated.  My brother's method was to simply throw a package of instant single serving  maple oatmeal in with a pound of hamburger ,add a splash of milk and an egg, wrap it in bacon, sprinkle some Jane's Krazy Mixed Up Salt on top and bake. He's put a piece of stale bread or two under it to soak up the grease and then discard. Bachelor cooking at it's finest.
But my favorite was always the savory, very moist meatloaf my Mom made. She'd  make it when we had just a few Waverly wafers (our favorite crackers as kids - now rebranded as "Premium Gold") and a piece or two of stale bread which she'd toast and crumble up.  She never wrote the recipe down, I just watched her make it often enough to sort of wing my own version.  She used sour cream, but I used mayo as the sour cream had turned into a science experiment in my absence.  It was really good. I cut the recipe in half, but it's easy to double it.  Mom normally served hers with mashed potatoes or Tatar Tots and peas, but I made some macaroni salad out of what was in the somewhat bare fridge while the meat thawed, then threw in some bacon into green beans while everything cooked.

Mom's Best Meatloaf (Serves two with leftovers for a sandwich)

2 teaspoons bacon fat
2 Tablespoons chopped onion
1 heaping teaspoon minced jarred garlic (or one clove roasted if you're adventuresome)
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp pepper
a pinch of crushed red pepper
3/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 pound ground beef (don't get the cheap burger for this, you'll lose a lot of it to fat)
1 and 1/2 large slices of bread toasted and crumbled (or about 1/3 cup crumbs)
5 buttery crackers (like Ritz or Waverly Wafers) crushed
1 small egg
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
1 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon mayonnaise or sour cream

Saute onion and garlic in bacon fat (or butter) until lightly golden. Mix everything together, just until mixed, do not overwork. Top with  about 1/3 cup barbecue sauce.  Put into bread pan (it should be sized so that there is an inch or two at each end of the pan open, otherwise it will be too thin).

Bake at 350 F  for 35-40 minutes. (meat thermometer at 160 F.)

If you double the recipe to serve 4, add about an extra 15 minutes to the cook time.


  1. Ah, Catholic meatload. Soul food for the Scot, when Haggis is not to be found. (Thank gawd.)

    Trying your recipe, soonest.

  2. Thanks, Brigid! This sounds wonderful. Your recipes inspire me to cook again after a few years of lazy resignation.

  3. My mom makes an awesome stuffed meatloaf. She mixes the meatloaf, then rolls it into a flat sheet, puts a layer of thinly sliced salami and a layer of provolne cheese on top. Then it gets rolled up like a swiss roll, placed on a broiling pan and baked. It's really good, and leftovers make great sandwiches.

  4. Mom's Best is in the oven right now. Smells great. Thanks


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