Through the Fire

Cooking our way into a new relationship with food!

Meatloaf ? from Hockey Pucks to Divine Comfort to Music In the 80’s…

Share this Article:

We’ll start with this and just get it out of the way. I loved him!!


Several posts on Facebook recently ( such a source of material for me!) has led me to want some meatloaf. I went to my usual source, my personal chef colleagues, for some recipes and stories. It seems most people/families have a meatloaf memory, whether that is a horror/disaster story or a very fond comforting one. I heard about loaves that were like hockey pucks and tasted pretty bad. For many, meat loaf conjures up comfort. Recipes which feature all different kinds of meat, vegetables, swiss cheese, bacon, lentils. There are as many variations on basic loaf as there are cooks!

My mom didn’t make meatloaf. I think it was too plain for her and unfortunately, I think she deemed it too “low class”. Consequently, I hardly had meatloaf until I was an adult. I was a part of a crew of caregivers for an elderly couple in their 90’s. They loved meatloaf!! My fellow givers couldn’t believe I didn’t know how to make it. During this time, I was a vegetarian and making that meatloaf was kind of a disgusting challenge. Lentil loaf ? Now we are talking. LOL, now the situation is reversed. I can’t digest lentils at all well so it lost its appeal a long time ago. ( I will include a vegetarian recipe later as well as a link or two)

My mom did have a “party” meatloaf. She really did only make it for parties. She served it  with those cocktail size slices of bread. She really knew how to give a good party. She and my dad would have a largish one a few times a year.  Growing up, I loved helping her. Getting to get dressed up and stay up late, serving our friends = happy girl! As a young adult, I would look forward to helping her cook as well as the childhood chores. She had a myriad of her own eating/food issues and didn’t want her guests to over eat so while there was a beautiful variety of food, she calculated very carefully how much food and how many calories she wanted her guests to eat. It pretty much was one serving of this meatloaf and that was it. (hors d’ouevres size)  Another recipe for another time is for her pecan tarts at Christmas time. Also delicious, and also handed out carefully. She allotted one per guest! After she died, I kept her recipes boxes so here is the cherished Party Meatloaf and the surprise ingredient of peanut butter. I have only made it once in the 5 years since she died but gasp!! I made it full size and ate it as a dinner entree!! oh the horror. It was delicious. Her recipe includes no instructions, so just mix all the ingredients, excepting the catsup and the horseradish,  and form into what ever size loaves you like. Mix the catsup/ketchup and the horseradish and smear on top of the loaves.

Mom’s Party Meatloaf

3 1/2 lbs ground meat
1 beaten egg
2 cups milk
2 c. bread crumbs
6 T. minced onions
4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
4 T. peanut butter
1 1/2 T horseradish
1 1/2 T catsup


My friend, Nancy, now of Illinois!, shared her family meatloaf story. It’s a classic. 

“My Dad had to take an early retirement due to illness and my Mom went to work when i was 13, she had been a stay at home mom up to this point. Anyway, Dad and i would sit in the afternoons and drink tea and talk and try to figure out what we were going to make for dinner. At this point he had taken over the dinner preparation because Mom got home later. So one afternoon he came up with what I like to call Daddy’s funky meatloaf. it consist of ground meat, a can of Campbells Alphabet soup, cracker crumbs, and egg, worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper, oh and chopped onion, shaped and topped with ketchup. This was about 1972 when we invented this concoction and it still stands in my family to this day. I don’t make it often anymore cause I don’t eat beef often at all. My family loves it for some odd reason and it is typically served with mashed potatoes and english peas to make a perfect meal. This is one of those dishes I love to make, not for the culinary aspect, but the strong food memories it brings back. And the bonus…when you cut into the meatloaf, you see the alphabet sprinkled throughout. Good food but better memories make a perfect meal in my opinion.”  
Do you have a classic family loaf recipe, meat or otherwise ? a family memory that goes with it ? I cherish those old stories and memories. I like to honor my legacy in the kitchen, remember those who went before, those who taught me to cook and to love cooking ( mostly my mom). And those of you with children and grandchildren have the great privilege of carrying that all forward, passing on the memories and the love. And, oh the laughter! Remember when ???
 I truly am my mother’s daughter in so many ways. In this case, I love meatloaf, but I need to fancy it up somehow. And I don’t really like ketchup/tomato sauce, so the classic glaze isn’t for me. One recipe I discovered years ago contains the seemingly odd ingredient of prunes! It adds an interesting bit of sweetness and as the French say “Je ne sais quoi!'” in that you can’t quite figure out what it is. I’m sorry that there is not a photo to accompany the recipe. Try it.

Bacon-Prune Meatloaf

Soak 1 cup fine fresh bread crumbs in 1/3 cup whole milk in a bowl large enough to eventually hold all ingredients.

Chop 2 onions. Smash 3 cloves of garlic.Chop a rib of celery and a carrot. Saute them all in 2 tablespoons of butter until tender and wilted. Remove from heat and stir in 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, 1 tablespoon of cider vinegar, 1 ground allspice clove, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper. Add to bread-crumb mixture.

Grind 1/4 pound of bacon and 1/2 cup pitted prunes in a food processor, then add to onion mixture along with 1 1/2 pounds ground beef chuck, 3/4 pounds ground pork, 2 eggs and 1/3 cup chopped parsley Mix it together, gently, with your hands.

Pack mixture into an oval loaf in a 13- by 9-inch shallow baking dish or pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour and a quarter. Let stand 10 minutes
(or longer) before serving.

my notes: I use gluten free bread crumbs and soak them in the eggs. I don’t use the food processor for the bacon and the prunes as I like to have little pieces. I do chop them both pretty well. I have made it with all beef, as well as a mix containing ground turkey or chicken. I have sprinkled a bit more Worcestershire sauce on the top mid baking. 
I haven’t tried this recipe. As I said earlier, lentils are not my friends but I know many folks of all different kinds of eating persuasions who would enjoy this. I also wanted to post the photo because of the lovely mashed potatoes which taste so great with loaf! ( edited: I heard from the blogger who didn’t want me to post the recipe here but kindly is ok with the photo and the link. so please, click on the link.  Thanks, Mel)
Here are a few other recipes that look good to me.. Don’t forget to check out Pinterest for a multitude of ideas.

   Savory Vegetable Loaf Cake 
 Classic Vegetarian Nut Loaf
  15 recipes from the Huffington Post 

So, leave the hockey pucks and Mr. Loaf back in the past and try something new.

Please share a favorite recipe or meatloaf saga in the comments. We will drool and groan appropriately.

Leave a reply

Follow Me Socially!