Meat Loaf

Meat Loaf!


No, no, not you, sir. I meant...


Yeaaaaaaahhh. Now that's what I'm talkin' about! Paradise by the oven light.

Meatwoaf. That sacwed institution. That dweam wivvin a dweam....

Actually I feel ridiculous putting up a meatloaf recipe. In my mind, acquiring knowledge of meatloaf happens in one of three ways: 1) you get the recipe from your mother; or 2) you get it from some other significant person in your circle of family and friends; or 3) you buy a pound of ground beef and think "how hard can this be?" and after successive trial and error, you arrive at your own personal meatloaf that you then make by rote until someone asks you how. Then you think about it.

I made meatloaf the way my mother taught me, which was via a series of notes left on the kitchen counter when I was growing up as a latchkey kid.  "Pr--h--t ov-- to 350 a 5:00," was always at the top (my mother had terrible handwriting and she was always scribbling these notes in a hurry).

Sometimes the dry ingredients had been laid out for me, sometimes not. "Gr---d b--f in frig.  2 egs.  1/2 cup br--dcr---bs..." The last direction was always to open a can of Campbell's tomato soup and spread it over the top of the meatloaf. Why? I never thought to ask why until later years, and my mother shrugged and said that's the way her mother had done. I accepted that, and in later years I went from tomato soup to just plain ketchup as a top glaze.  Why? I don't know, maybe I didn't have the soup one night, made do with the ketchup and liked it better. This is how these things happen.

There's turkey meatloaf, and ground beef meatloaf Some will say if you're going to do it, then do it right and use a mix of ground beef, ground pork and ground veal. 

My friend Lisa swore Martha Stewart's recipe for All-American Meatloaf in the same book Favorite Comfort Food is really good. It calls for 1/2 pounds of beef, veal and pork. I've used that and other times I've used turkey and it all comes out good.

Martha Stewart's All-American Meatloaf

  • 3 slices white bread (which she has you process into crumbs but you know me, ahem, I've already done that ahead of time and I will translate this to 1/2 cup of fresh breadcrumbs)
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch rounds
  • 1 rib celery, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, loosely packed (which I already have chopped and frozen because Mommy taught me)
  • 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
  • 1/2 pound each ground beef, veal, pork (or 1 to 1 1/2 pounds turkey)
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon Tobasco
  • I1/2 teaspoon chopped rosemary, plus more needles for sprinkling

Put breadcrumbs in mixing bowl (however you procure them)

Place celery, carrot, garlic and onion in food processor, process until vegetables are minced, about 30 seconds, pausing to scrape down sides of bowl. Transfer vegetables to mixing bowl with breadcrumbs. Add 1/2 cup ketchup, 2 teaspoons of dry mustard, the ground meat, eggs, salt, pepper, rosemary and Tobasco. Knead ingredients until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute. Do not overknead, it will result in a heavy and dense loaf. The texture should be wet, but tight enough to hold a free-form shape. (Whenever you're done, Martha.)

Set a fine-mesh baking rack in an 11x17 inch baking pan (I have neither of those things, honestly, Martha, you piss me off sometimes). 

Cut a 5x11 inch piece of parchment paper, and place over center of rack to prevent meat loaf from falling through (ignore, ignore). 

Using your hands, form an elongated loaf covering the parchment... OH FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, MARTHA! Shape the damn loaf and put it in your meatloaf pan or your baking dish. Done. Honestly. This isn't rocket science.

Make a glaze of the remaining 3 tablespoons ketchup, 2 1/2 teaspoons mustard, and the brown sugar. Brush that over the top. Then saute red onions in olive oil for about ten minutes, add 3 tablespoons of water and cook until that evaporates and...

You know what? She lost me at "parchment paper." This recipe is a production. It's Monday night, I'm tired, people are hungry. I'm spreading Heinz ketchup over the top of my meatloaf and calling it a day.

Bake 50-55 minutes at 400. Let cool 15 minutes and serve.

Serve with what? How about Trader Joe's mashed potatoes and the last of those little baby carrots I got at DeCicco's, which failed so miserably in the crockpot? I trimmed and peeled them, tossed them and my other 1/2 onion with olive oil, salt and pepper, and added them to the 400 oven halfway through cooking.

Oh wait, I lied... I don't have the mashed potatoes. How about Alexia waffle fries? Yes? Nod your head at me. Yes. Good? Don't lie. OK. Thank you.