Monday, October 15, 2007


Thursday, October 18th is National Meatloaf Appreciation Day, according to the people at While this blog is usually devoted to memories related to pop culture items like toys, comics, movies, and TV, I think food memories can be just as important in forming our perceptions (good or bad) of the past. Personally, I have plenty of powerful memories regarding my mom’s cooking, and I was particularly enamored of her meatloaf.

My mom’s meatloaf was not fancy; more along the lines of the fast-easy-feed-my-family-something-nutritious-on-a-budget variety. Still, I’ve never been able to duplicate its unique flavor. From what I can remember, she used all ground beef and mixed it with 2 eggs, Italian bread crumbs, and Spatini spaghetti sauce mix. She molded the resulting mix into a dome on a baking sheet covered with aluminum foil, then baked it. She must’ve had some other seasonings, though, because I’ve tried to duplicate the taste, and I’ve never quite gotten it right. The outside of the meat dome was crispy and the inside was firm but tender. Served with a baked potato and French-cut string beans, I was in childhood heaven. One evening when I was nine, I got so carried away, I ate half of the meatloaf by myself! Little did I realize then how much trouble my hearty appetite would get me into.

Traditionally, meatloaf is made with a three-way blend of ground beef, pork, and veal. Ground pork and veal were not readily available to my mom in the 70s, but supermarkets today often sell all three ground meats of equally measured portions in one package, ready for instant meatloaf making. God bless America! With this ground meat, I usually follow the basic meatloaf recipe provided in The Joy of Cooking (a must-own cookbook for anyone who cooks at home on a regular basis). While it’s a fool-proof recipe, I sometimes make adjustments depending on what I have in the pantry or how creative I feel. The rest of this post is devoted to my latest meat loaf creation:


9.6 oz. ground beef

9.6 oz. ground veal

9.6 oz. ground pork

11/2 cup chopped onion

2 cloves garlic (mashed)

2/3 cup finely chopped fresh parsley

1 teaspoon ground thyme (I usually crush it in my palm)

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

2/3 cup ketchup

1 cup plain breadcrumbs

3 large eggs

½ cup of your favorite cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. While the oven preheats, prep your ingredients. Then combine all the ingredients, except the cheese, in a large bowl.

Gently fold the mess into a blended blob. Don’t mix too aggressively or the mixture will become tough. Take two thirds of the mixture and spread it out on a baking tray covered with aluminum foil. The mound should look roughly like a small loaf of bread.Using your fingers, form a trench down the center of the mound, being careful not to poke all the way through to the bottom. Fill the trench with whatever cheese you like.

Cap the trench with the remaining meat mixture and blend it so that the trench is sealed.

Pop the finished loaf into the oven and cook for 1 hour. During this time, you can prepare your sides and clean up. For this particular meal, I roasted some baby red bliss potatoes. The potatoes were sliced and coated with extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper in a bowl. I nuked them in the microwave for several minutes to get them started, and then I put them in an aluminum-foil-covered baking tin and cooked them in the oven along with the meat loaf.

With all this prep work on the meatloaf and potatoes, I went the easy route with the vegetable and used microwaveable broccoli in cheese sauce.

Once the hour is up, pull the meatloaf from the oven and allow it time to rest (about 10 minutes). This will let all the juices and gooey cheese settle into place.

Then you are ready to slice it up and plate.

To me, meatloaf is one of the all-time great comfort foods. It’s really worth making the time to create a meatloaf every once in a while just to experience that comforting sense of satisfaction that it brings.

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