Sunday, December 9, 2012

Sunday and My Mother's Meatloaf

I just put a 3 lb. meatloaf in the oven for Sunday dinner.  I was out with Katie and the boys this afternoon for a routine Target run, and a ride through the car wash.  You should have seen Pete's eyes popping out of his head as the car was engulfed in suds and brushes!  Our trip to Target was a quick one, and with Henry and Peter securely buckled into the double cart, we were able to cruise through the toy aisle without incident (if they were loose, it'd have been a different story!).  Henry said, a number of times, "That's on my list to Santa."  It is a LONG list and Santa will be doing some extreme editing, no doubt!  Pete's just happy to see anything and, at just two years old, doesn't have the same perspective as  Henry about Santa, toys, time, and repurcussions (!). We had a good time.  The boys conked out on the ride home!

The car ride always knocks them out!

So, to give Katie a bit of a break, since she makes a real dinner for all of us almost every night of the week, I offered to cook tonight.  Usually, I'm the baker, but today I decided it would be nice to make a meat loaf, and a big one, which will provide for tonight's dinner as well as really good brown-bag lunches during the coming work week.

My meatloaf recipe is very basic, and more a visual memory than anything I've ever seen written down anywhere.  My mom used to make a great, simple meatloaf.  She used ground beef, eggs, bread crumbs, minced onion, salt, pepper, ketchup, and a little mustard.  I do that as well, but with seasoned bread crumbs, and the addition of steak sauce.  Like my mother, I bake mine free-form, hand-molded in the pan, and lay thin rings of onion on top.  Unlike my mother, I glaze the top with a mixture of ketchup and steak sauce and the onion rings go on top.  (A happy memory is that my mom saved the ends for me.  She knew how much I loved the end of the meatloaf.)

Another difference is that my mom mixed the whole thing up in a big bowl and shaped her meatloaf in the pan.  I use my Kitchen Aid for mixing, since anyone who knows me knows how much I dislike handling raw meat of any kid (just ask my kids about me and chicken!).  So, all the ingredients went into the mixing bowl, I gave it a few whirls, and all that work was done, sans hands!  Still, I did dump the mixture into the roasting pan and shaped it, just like my mother would, freestyle like a long submarine!  I can't help but think of my mom when I cook things she used to make, like tuna casserole, meatloaf, or even when I make a tuna sandwich.  She had a way that made it seem so generous, so caring, and though she really didn't relish making dinner every night for nine people (!), we loved everything she made for us.  We really did.

So, as a tribute to my mom's recipe, here's my rendition of Virginia O'Farrell's meatloaf.  It's simple, delicous, and wonderful, with the bonus of sandwiches to enjoy after Sunday night's dinner.  The sandwiches, if you're interested, are a stacking of thin slices of meatloaf on lightly buttered toast, with a bit of ketchup, salt and pepper.  (My bit of ketchup is more like your generous serving! - what can I say, I love the stuff!  Maybe the meatloaf is just an excuse for more ketchup!).

(as best I can remember, with my own touches added)
Baking or roasting pan, bottom sprayed with cooking spray
Preheated Oven - 325 degrees Fareneheit

3 lb. 85% freshly ground beef
1 1/2 cups seasoned bread crumbs
2 eggs
1/2 sweet onion, minced
1/4 cup ketchup
4 tablespoons steak sauce (I used Stonewall Kitchens Roadhouse Steak Sauce)
2 teaspoons prepared mustard
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt

In large mixer bowl, combine all ingredients until completely incorporated.
Dump into roasting pan, and with your hands form into a log about 4 inches wide and 3 inches high.
Neatly shape the ends and top surface to close up any gaps.

Make glaze:

Mix together
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons steak sauce

With a spoon, spread glaze over top of meatloaf.
Slice more of the onion into 3 rings.  Break apart and arrange on top of glazed meatloaf.

Bake for an hour and a half or two hours until juices run clear.

Let sit, covered in foil, for about 15 minutes before slicing.

Like my mom, I'm serving mine with mashed potatoes and green beans.  It's like having her here in the kitchen with me (I wish!).


(PS - this can be made into meatballs as well.  I'd add a splash of milk, a good 1/4 cup or more of grated Parmesan cheese and a half teaspoon of garlic powder for meatballs.  Bake or fry as you normally would.)


  1. I make meatloaf pretty much the same way except for the steak sauce. Great comfort food!

    1. I agree Sarah. I know I didn't care for it so much when I was a little kid, but learned to appreciate it as I got older. Now it's on my top-10 list of favorite meals! Now there's a new blog idea! Thanks for the inspiration!

  2. It is one of my absolute favorite meals! I made one last week after a too long absence and I agree, the sandwiches are the best. Makes me smile just thinking about it....

  3. Much the same recipe here but put a little milk in with the bread crumbs when mixing, for extra moistness. Also added eggs to keep it firm. No steak sauce but I do add some garlic powder. Free form is the only way to go! Gotta love meatloaf with a nice baked potato and sweet green peas. Such wonderful comfort food. My mom made it aleast once a week. It fed the troops sufficiently. Lots of ketchup at our house too!

    1. I know a lot of people soak bread or breadcrumbs in milk, and since my mom didn't do that, I don't do it either! I guess I could try it to see next time! I do like the firm texture of this meatloaf, especially since it slices like a dream the next day. And I did get the end tonight, so I am happy!

  4. Ok…best post you've ever written in my mind! Simply for the fact that you talked about your mother and cooking meatloaf like she did! We were supposed to be celebrating my precious niece's birthday tonight at my mom's house and she was making her meatloaf which is exactly like this! Minus the onion rings on top but she will love to know about that! She is sick so she had to cancel the dinner…we all love her meatloaf and all of her grandchildren pick that for their birthday meal! Love the fact that it's a special memory and that you cooked it for your daughter and your grandsons! I am pinning this right now! Hope y'all are all enjoying this wonderful Christmas season!!

    1. Thank you Carolyn - I so love your comments, because they are so full of honest emotion, memory, and family connection. Sometimes it seems we actually know each other, your statements are so familiar! Well, I am glad to know you in our little blog-o-sphere, and will one day walk into your beautiful shop and introduce myself. Meanwhile, enjoy that wonderful family of yours and have a very Merry Christmas!

  5. I too learned to make meatloaf from my mom. Never a measuring cup or spoon in sight. It became one of those dinners that we had on a weekly basis.No onions on top,but its a great addition.Mashed potatoes or rice and brown gravy,and always some green veggie. Its been a while since I made meatloaf,but it will be on my table this week. Thanks for reviving the memory of Mom's meatloaf. Oh I love tons of ketchup on mine too!! CKJ

    1. Cindy, it seems to be one of those recipes that touches a nostalgic note for many of us. Thanks for your story about your Mom's meatloaf. Glad you'll be making her recipe this week. Enjoy!

  6. Sounds like the recipe my mom used too Jeannie, The only tweek I made was that I saute the onions in worcester sauce and then add to the meat mixture, so does the Barefoot Contessa. Gotta love those "mom" recipes.

    1. Joanne - that sounds great - I love the idea of sauteing the onions first, I even thought about doing that yesterday, but minced instead, like Mom used to do! Hmmm.

      Yep, "Mom" recipes are the best!

  7. Meatloaf and so many other Mom style recipes are real comfort foods that we all seem to crave as the long winter days close in around us.
    Ummm, I can smell the meatloaf baking now.
    Thanks for the memory and the inspiration.

    1. Judy, I'd love to hear some of your classics as well, from your mom and your own kitchen. My next collection of recipes will be those we carry forward from our moms' kitchens. Thank YOU for the inspiration!

  8. My friend Katie made meatballs from this recipe, large ones, and baked them for over an hour! She said they were great! She got tired of rolling meatballs so used some of the mixture for little meatloaves. Way to go, Katie!

  9. Meatloaf is a family favorite in our house. My grandmother and mother made meatloaf often and my kids have always loved it. We use crushed up saltine crackers instead of bread crumbs. A couple of eggs, a little milk, crushed up saltines, salt, pepper, minced onion all added to the ground beef- it's very simple (which is why I make it!). Instead of making a big long loaf, I use my hands (I know you won't like that part) and shape smaller individual meat loafs. That way I can make a big batch and put some in sandwich bags and freeze them for another dinner. After 45 min of baking, I put a mixture of a small can of tomato sauce, equal parts of ketchup and a couple of tablespoons of brown sugar. Spoon that over the top of each small meatloaf and put it back in the oven for 15-20 more min. It is a loved recipe in our family!
    Susan Moyer

  10. I have been looking for a good old recipe for Meat loaf for a long while because I have a houseful of Meat loaf lovers ! thank you so much ! It's well appreciated !

  11. I gave up making meatloaf years ago, my husband makes it now. I don't know what he does to make it taste so good, and I don't ask, lol. I have to say I am new to your blog but am so glad I found it. Your recipes are all so user friendly. I can understand all the ingredients in them. Thank you for all your help in make all our lives a little bit easier.

  12. I use the same ingredients as you for my meatloaf but no mustard or steak sauce. I just spread ketchup on top. Next time I make meatloaf I am going to try adding mustard and steak sauce. I love the ends of the meatloaf too.