Some comforting meatloaf
As winter makes its steady march into spring, snow, wind and cold continue. That means comfort food is still tops on the evening menu, and one of those meals is meatloaf.
Everyone, I suppose, has a favorite meatloaf recipe. Mine is a little of my mother’s, and probably by now, more of mine. It’s come about through years of experimentation, as well as what I happen to have on hand when I get the urge to make some.
One of my good friends is a huge fan of meatloaf, but she rarely cooks. So my special Christmas gift to her (she lives alone), is a frozen six-pack of 3x6-inch, aluminum foil meatloaves.
I also include a small container of grated Parmesan cheese, perhaps another small can of tomato sauce, and directions for cooking. She really likes the gift because it provides her with several meals and all she really has to do is cook it.
These mini-loaves are also large enough for two people, so they can be made ahead, frozen, then cooked when needed. However, leftover meatloaf also makes a great next day sandwich for lunch, so I usually make a 5x8-inch pan.
To complete the traditional meatloaf meal, I often make mashed potatoes (with the skins on to capture the nutrients) and green or yellow beans. To spice up both traditional side dishes, I sometimes add homemade stock and garlic powder to the potatoes when I mash them, and garlic slivers and olive oil to the green beans. Such small touches can result in a slightly more special supper.
Although the most popular meat used in a meatloaf is hamburger, some of that beef can be replaced with ground chicken or turkey, resulting in a little less fat. Another way to produce a less fatty meatloaf is to use a loaf pan with a drain plate in the bottom. That way, much of the fat is caught beneath the loaf, and not in it.
Meatloaves, like chili, can be made from so many different ingredients, and so many different amounts of ingredients, depending on what’s available and the primary flavor a family might like.
Here is my basic meatloaf recipe, with recommended ingredients. Experiment on your own with what your family likes.
Comfort Meatloaf (5-6 servings)
1 and one-half pounds ground, lean hamburger
about 1 cup dried bread crumbs, herbed or plain
most of one, eight-ounce can tomato sauce
salt and pepper to taste
sautéed onions and/or garlic
1 teaspoon dried oregano
sprinkling of parsley, dried, fresh or frozen any other herb desired
a few sprinklings of grated Parmesan cheese
the rest of the can of tomato sauce
2 or 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Spray the loaf pan with vegetable spray.
In a bowl, combine all the meatloaf ingredients. Spoon into the pan. Spread the remaining tomato sauce on top of the loaf. Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour. During the last 20 minutes, sprinkle Parmesan on top of the tomato sauce. Let sit for a few minutes, then serve.