The first time I made meatloaf for the man who is now my husband, he took one look at the slice on his plate and asked, “You call this meatloaf?” And while it was certainly meatloaf to me, it was many moons away from the version he grew up eating.
Mine, which was closely related to the one my mom had always made, featured strands of grated carrots and potatoes running through the ground meat, and it was seasoned with plenty of minced garlic.
His meatloaf of memory was more closely related to the classic version, complete with moistened white bread kneaded in and a baked-on glaze of ketchup and brown sugar. I’m still trying to find an approach that marries our two ideal versions into one harmonious loaf. (I think there might just be deep lessons about life and marriage embedded in this search.)
I’ve actually found that we’re both most-happy when I don’t try to replicate either of our traditional meatloaves but, instead, opt for recipes that do entirely different things with ground meat, binders and seasonings. These days, we’re digging Eggplant Parmesan Meatloaf from Giada De Laurentiis.
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In the mid-eighties, before the nightly news scared my mom into switching to turkey, my family ate a lot of ground beef. It was on the menu at least a couple nights a week. Sometimes it was crumbled into tomato sauce and served over spaghetti noodles. During the summer, we had it scrambled with vegetables and rice and packed into overgrown zucchini.
On particularly harried nights, my mom would season a pound while still in the package, divide it into four patties and plop them into a pan. When burgers were prepared thusly, they were always served with carrot and celery sticks, with ranch dressing on the side for dipping.
The best nights were when the ground beef was mixed with oatmeal, an egg or two, chopped onion, garlic powder and a squirt of ketchup and packed into a loaf pan. I loved my mom’s meatloaf with a passion, mostly because she always made enough for sandwiches the next day. I have always been something of a fool for a good meatloaf sandwich.
In those days, my meatloaf lunch wasn’t a complex affair. It was always a half sandwich, made on whole-wheat bread spread with ketchup and mustard. Packed with one of those frozen disks to keep it all cool, it was the best thing to be found inside a canvas lunch bag.
Before you start assembling your sandwiches, read these tips
A go-to comfort food favorite that the whole family will enjoy, meatloaf is a foolproof dish that is as quick to prepare as it is easy on the wallet. Whether you prefer turkey or beef varieties, adding fresh vegetables, spices and a tasty glaze to your meatloaf promises that it will be rich in texture and bold flavors. Check out Food Network’s top five meatloaf recipes below and cook up one for dinner tonight.
5. New Classic Meatloaf — Quick-cooking oats and molasses are “new” ingredients Ellie adds to her traditional meatloaf recipe, featuring ground beef, button mushrooms and herbs.
4. Turkey Meatloaf With Feta and Sun-Dried Tomatoes — Chewy herb-marinated sun-dried tomatoes and tangy feta cheese offer texture and a Mediterranean flair to Giada’s easy weeknight meatloaf.
Get the top three recipes for meatloaf »
When I was growing up, my sister and I always sat down in September and set our new school year resolutions. It just seemed like the right time to initiate new habits as we entered new grades and classrooms. Of course, these lists featured childhood basics like “Be nicer to my sister” and “Remember to help Mom clean the cat box.” Nothing earth-shattering, but it was the principle of it that mattered.
To this day, fall has always felt like the more appropriate time for fresh starts to me than January. However, in my current life as a freelance writer, I need all the structure and discipline I can get. So I’m taking advantage of this new year to institute change.
Chief among my resolutions this year is to eat better (I can’t imagine I’m alone in naming this as a goal). One recipe that I’ve bookmarked for regular rotation in this new regime is this Veggie Meatloaf With Checca Sauce from Giada. It’s built on a base of brown rice and red lentils and features carrots, celery, onions, tomatoes and spinach (talk about packing in the good stuff!). It includes egg and cheese for flavor and binding and is topped with a tasty blender sauce that is good on just about anything (if you have any left over, heap it on scrambled eggs). It is a many-stepped recipe, which means you’ll want to cook it on a chilly Sunday afternoon and then eat the leftover for lunch on Monday. Just the thing for The Weekender.
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- Cooking meatloaf in small mini loaves makes quick work of this comforting dinner.
On the East Coast and around the country, as cities continue to be slaughtered by the snow, what better way to warm up than with cozy comfort foods? Recently I decided to mix up my normal mac and cheese routine with a meatier classic: Meatloaf.
Just like Kevin Arnold from The Wonder Years I always wondered what was really in meatloaf. I remember dreading it as part of elementary school cafeteria lunches, scarred of the “mysterious meat.” But I knew there had to be some compelling, retro magic to the dish, since it pops up in every classic American sitcom.
I decided the best beginner’s recipe would be Mini Skillet Meatloaves from Food Network Magazine. The recipe calls for ground beef, pork or veal so I asked the butchers at Dickson’s Farmstand Meats what the best choice would be. On their advice I decided to kick it old school – after all I did grow up wondering “Where’s The Beef?”
So, the “mystery meat” mixture I created was a lot less mysterious and more grown up than I expected, including garlic, parsley, breadcrumbs, eggs, onions, milk and Worcestershire sauce – all combined to produce the most heavenly aroma on a cold winter night. And in 20 minutes, my sad meatloaf history was wiped away by these delightful pan-seared loaves. The scrumptious sauce added a surprising, delightful flavor boost – apple cider vinegar, brown sugar and ketchup. Amazingly, this recipe transformed my school lunch nightmare into a cozy cure for cabin fever. I also cooked up Bobby Flay’s sautéed kale as a healthy side for good measure, because I actually enjoy eating my vegetables as a grownup.
I met Alex Guarnaschelli from The Cooking Loft at a recent Food Network event, and I was amazed by how warm, personable and funny she is. When she breaks out her deadpan punch-lines, she seems more like a stand-up comic than a chef.
More Alex dish and tasty meatloaf here.