Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Marvelous Meatloaf

Although my mom was really good in the kitchen, I never much cared for her meatloaf. Hers was tomato sauce-based and I used to cringe when she served it. The only thing I liked about meatloaf night was the mountain of mashed potatoes with a little lake of butter melting in the top.

When I was a newlywed, I looked for food to make for dinner. I had a few basics I knew how to create - I could grill a steak and roast a turkey - but that was about it. My husband is rather inept in the kitchen. He'll be the first to admit it, so I'm not being mean. He can make eggs for breakfast and he makes killer French Toast (I mean "killer" literally. We lost two birds due to his culinary talents), but he doesn't know the difference between all-purpose and cake flour, nor how to decide when steaks are done on the grill. Can you say chewy?

Anyway, when I was newly married, I thought I should find a good meatloaf recipe. And I did. No tomato sauce (hooray!) but just a great combination that made for a delicious, moist meatloaf. I found a great one in the Betty Crocker Cookbook (a newlywed or new-on-your-own's best friend!) but I've modified it over the years. I love what it's become. So does everyone else who's tried it.

I know we've featured meatloaves on this blog before, but here's mine:

Marvelous Meatloaf

1.5 pounds hamburger
1.5 pounds ground pork
2 cups breadcrumbs (I use seasoned)
2 cups milk
4 slices of bread (I use the heels/ends of my wheat bread. Better than throwing them out)
2 eggs
1 medium-large onion chopped (I like onions and add a little extra)
2 Tbsp Worcestershire
1 tsp dry mustard
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 350.

Soak bread in water, squeeze them out so they're wet but not dripping.

Combine meats either by hand or in a large mixer. I used my stand mixer and a dough hook to get things started. Add all ingredients, one at a time in the order listed above. After everything is combined, I mush it all by hand so the meatloaf doesn't get too smooth. I like it a little coarse. Too smooth seems too processed.

HINT: You may already know this, but my mom taught me to always break my eggs into a small bowl before adding it to my mix. Not just for meatloaf, but for everything. She warned that if I added a bad egg (it happens) I would ruin whatever I'd combined so far. So far I've only encountered one bad egg in my life, but it is always worth breaking (and smelling) eggs before adding them.

Once the mixture is combined to your satisfaction, shape it into two loaves and place in pans. No need to do anything to the pans ahead of time. You'll see my loaf pan here, but before I got these, I used to make one giant meatloaf and bake it in a 9 x 13 pan. Works just fine too.

Bake for about an hour and a half (longer if it's one big loaf). You'll know when it's ready because the fat around the sides begins to bubble. You can check for doneness too, by slicing in the middle to check.

This is a great basic. A real go-to recipe for me.

These days my kids suggest I find another name for meatloaf: "How appealing is it to say you're serving a loaf of meat?" They have a point...But - except for my lone vegetarian - they eat it. And love it.

You can cut this in half if you're only making one loaf. I usually make two at at time because this makes for excellent leftovers and sandwiches the next day.

Serve with mashed potatoes and a green veggie and you have one of my favorite home-cooked meals.


Grace Under Pressure, a Manor House Mystery
Buffalo West Wing (January), fourth in the White House Chef Mystery series.


  1. My recipe is similar, but I add a can of drained diced tomatoes (no sauce)! I also use crackers instead of breadcrumbs. I cook it without anything on top, like you do, but usually will prepare a packet of onion gravy mix and dump that over the top of the meatloaf when it comes out of the oven.

  2. OMG, this is my mother's exact recipe!!!!!!!


  3. It's actually a pretty meatloaf! I'll have to give this recipe a try, Julie. It actually looks pretty on a plate, as opposed to mine. :) Thanks for the recipe!

  4. my sainted mother could make a killer meatloaf (as you say, not in a good sense, we went through 4 dogs in 12 years).

    This sounds wonderful. Love the extra slices of bread tip... need to try that


  5. This looks wonderful. Have you ever made bison meatloaf? About a year ago, I switched from beef to bison. Also I once found a great meatloaf recipe in a Scooby Doo magazine that had hidden broccoli and cheese inside. I thought my boys loved it (my husband I sure did), but the recipe mysteriously disappeared and I've never been able to find it again. Maybe I can get my picky eaters to try your recipe.

  6. Hey Shel - I think I'd have to pass on the tomatoes. Love 'em on their own but I'm not a fan of them in meatloaf. I think it's one of those things that haunts me from my childhood.

    Avery - too fun! I've played with this one a bit to get it where it is. Sounds like your mom did, too!

    Elizabeth - Thank you! I think it's pretty too. And it slices up perfectly for sandwiches. I probably should have added a photo of that, too. Mmm... my favorite!

    Dave - oh no! Your poor pooches! I might have mentioned that we had a dog once who ate most of my mom's pound cake. Don't know how Buttons survived that... it's a good pound cake but it was huge, and she was only a medium sized dog.

    Bookwoman - never used bison. But I like the idea of adding broccoli. How interesting! We eat broccoli here by the truckload, so I don't have to hide it to get them to eat it, but I bet that flavor would be great. Added moisture, too. Thanks for the idea!

  7. I will have to try this variation sounds great thanks for sharing :).

  8. That is one pretty meatloaf. Love the story behind it, too. (And Bookwoman's comment about bison meat is an intriguing idea...hmmmm.) Great post, Julie. Enjoy the day!

    ~ Cleo
    Coffeehouse Mystery.com
    Cleo Coyle on Twitter

  9. Julie, I'll have to try this. I've never added pork to meatloaf, except in the form of bacon on top.

    Bookwoman, we *love* bison at my house. I haven't been very creative with it, but we've decided we like bison burgers better than beef.

    ~ Krista

  10. My daughter has a favorite using bison. Now that we're in Colorado, that's an easy to find ingredient in the grocery stores.

    Milk would never have been added to meatloaf in our household.

    Terry's Place
    Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

  11. You guys are making me consider bison! I've never even experimented with it. Better than beef, huh? Wow.

    And we've always added pork to our meatloaves. Even though Betty Crocker calls for ground beef only, I think the pork adds a nice extra flavor.

  12. Julie - sounds terrific! I've never added pork - I'll give it a try. I usually open an envelope of dried onion soup mix and toss into mine.

  13. Hi Kaye,

    Let me know what you think - I'd love to hear how you like it. I find the dried onion soup mix version pretty excellent, too.

  14. Julie,
    Our moms must have had the same cookbook!!! I can still see the baked tomato sauce on the top..ugh!
    Your recipe is so similar to mine, I too like the meat combo and also lay bacon strips on top. This is a great go to meal...anything that has sandwich potential is aces in my book!!!

  15. Hiya Booklover,
    Sounds like we share the same tastes! I have to admit, I try to avoid tomato sauce (and ketchup) wherever I can. Just too much of it at a young age, I guess! LOL