Food and Drink

Summer Festival of Meat Loaf

Some of you have heard the story. Some years ago, while I prepared a menu for Christmas dinner for the extended family, I sought a secondary main course that might suit simpler tastes, particularly those of the youngest cousin, who must have been 7 or 8 at the time. I asked my husband what he might like, thinking I would hear “turkey,” because he’s not a fan of ham or of the prime rib planned for the rest of us.

But he said, “Meat loaf.”

And I said, “But this is supposed to be a festive meal!”

And he said, “I think meat loaf is very festive.”

I must admit that meat loaf did not form a staple in my cooking. I tried it when Pure Luck and I were dating, because it’s a favorite for him, but after the Event of the Suicidal Meat Loaf — a Martha Stewart recipe cooked on parchment paper on a baking rack, set aside to do whatever it is they do before you cut them, which somehow upended itself on the kitchen floor, after which he took me out to dinner — well, I lost my nerve.

Until he told me he believed in the festive nature of meat loaf, and I decided to try again.

Thus came into being the Festive Holiday Meat Loaf celebrated in various forms by our family over the past five or six years. (We’ve even made a turkey version for non-meat eaters.)

When I shared this tradition with St. Casserole, and she mentioned it to her husband, Mr. C, he misheard and thought she said something about the “Festival of Meat Loaf.” We try to celebrate it when I go to visit them, and there has been great hilarity at that festival, particularly the year the potatoes got locked in the oven overnight.

Today, with our non-meat eater out of town on a youth trip, I have prepared the Summer Festival of Meat Loaf, in honor of Pure Luck’s return. As is true of most of my recipes, there are eccentricities and variations in the preparation of the Meat Loaf, but it will always and forever be festive.

Below please find my recipe, adapted from various sources and strongly influenced by one’s intuitive cooking style:

Summer Festival of Meat Loaf

Ground beef, the 85% fat kind because a nice man at the meat counter once told me that was best, approximately 1.8 pounds because that’s how they sell it, and since the recipe calls for one and a half, adjustments are required.

Bread crumbs, 1.5 cups (I used the Progresso plain version)

Milk, 1.5 cups plus a smidge because it was the end of the carton

2 eggs, because the recipe in Betty Crocker called for 1 but this is more meat

1/2 a Vidalia Onion chopped small, but not exactly fine, Vidalia being the key to a SUMMER Festival of Meat Loaf

Salt, sage and dry mustard–rather indefinite amounts, poured into my hand first, less salt than Betty Crocker suggests, but more sage and mustard

Ground pepper–much less than called for because the pepper grinder doesn’t work very well

Worcestershire sauce–something like a Tablespoon, but really a little more

Garlic salt–a sprinkle, because I forgot I had real garlic and am just seeing it now

Mix all these things together by hand. I take my rings off, because it would not be festive to find them in the meat loaf later.

Remember that old Martha Stewart recipe that jumped off the ledge and consider the possibility of cooking this immense meat loaf on the roasting pan. Mold it into loaf shape and then remember why you used parchment paper. Get out a loaf pan and hope for the best.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1.5 hours.

We had cooked teeny tiny carrots with a little olive oil and slightly mashed red potatoes with butter, a teeny bit of salt and fresh ground pepper. Pure Luck likes his with ketchup, but I prefer a little barbecue sauce.



15 thoughts on “Summer Festival of Meat Loaf”

  1. Very much like mine, but I use fresh bread crumbs and some horseradish. Usually bake in a small roasting (lasagne size) pan, sort of free form loaf. Happy to see your meatloaf has no oatmeal. I like oatmeal, but it makes meatloaf slimy in my opinion. And, I’m really glad Pure Luck is back to eat the meatloaf!

  2. I never use a recipe for meatloaf, just go by feel and look.
    But I never considered it a particularly festive meal.

  3. I love the commentary you put with recipes–it makes me laugh even though the recipe is for something I have never liked and will likely never eat again. 🙂
    you have, however, inadvertently stumbled into one of my pet peeves (as a vegetarian)…turkey is meat. it’s not red meat, but it is meat. fish, fowl, game, livestock…all turn into meat. one who eats turkey but not beef is still a meat eater, just a non-red-meat eater.
    okay, I’m off my vegetarian soap box… 🙂 please give us more recipes with fun commentary!! 🙂

  4. Sorry, Teri, of course I know that. LP is really a non-mammal eater, and I am guilty of using our family shorthand to describe her practice.

  5. We also had a meatloaf, requested by the father of the house on his day. And mashed potatoes and roasted green beans.
    And, Auntie K, I have never been able to make an oatmeal meatloaf work at all. One infamous attempt at using oatmeal resulted in an abomination dubbed “MeatGlob.” Breadcrumbs rule.

  6. In our house, meat goes by this nickname: “Murder. Tasty, tasty, murder.” Even the house veggie calls it that. 🙂
    I love a good meatloaf.

  7. I was just about to say – turkey is meat, so I think you mean a variety for non red-meat-eaters.
    Hmmm, meat-loaf for vegetarians – yes, perfectly possible. Lentils, do you think, or chickpeas? Substitute either (cooked, of course, and mashed if chickpeas) for the minced beef/turkey/lamb whatever. Or you could use a combination of beans – chick peas and butter beans, as in falafel, might work well… hmmmm…..

  8. P.S. That is a heck of a lot of Worcestershire sauce – surely only a few drops are necessary?

  9. I guess I’m a minority here. I’m definitely from the oatmeal school of meatloaf! I don’t use a recipe though, and it’s not always the same since sometimes I had things I want to use up (think shredded zucchini in the summer). I always add celery, and usually some tomato paste or sauce (whatever I have on hand.) Worcestershire too.
    Your meatloaf sounds yummy, Songbird.

  10. Sounds delish, and definitely festive, although I tend to think that it’s what we bring to the table, rather than what is on it, that makes for festivity. I’m a meatloaf fan as well, and find that leftovers grilled with cheese (between slices of bread) is amazingly good!

  11. Again, that’s our shorthand unless we’re talking to someone who needs a more specific explanation. Like her dad, who gave up eating four-legged animals 25 years ago, LP eats fish and poultry. Don’t ask my why.

  12. I do make a very awesome lentil loaf, with brown lentils, carrots, walnuts, and green peppers…and I think it does have oatmeal in it too.
    You can also check out the magic loaf studio: . mmmmmm, lentil loaf with mashed potatoes…I think I figured out what I’m having for dinner a couple nights this week!

  13. When I used to make meat loaf I used rolled oats instead of bread crumbs, ketchup, egg, milk, Worcestershire and whatever herbs I felt like at the moment. Come to think of it, the recipe probably came from a Quaker Oats box originally, but as with most main dishes, I adhered to it loosely. My mother always baked meatloaf with stips of bacon on top, but I don’t really like to eat bacon that way, so I never did.
    I totally understand why (in an inarticulate way) LP eats poultry and fish. That’s what I did, too, for a couple of years until I gave up poultry for Lent a couple of years ago and never took it up again. There’s probably a name for it–I sometimes uses “selectatarian”. I only eat seafood now, so maybe that’s a “pescatarian.”
    I will have to try the lentil loaf teri posted!
    But why would you use parchment paper for meat loaf?

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