Create old-fashioned comfort meals with a variety of meatloaf recipes

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Photo by Ann Cipperly Serve meatloaf for a homey, comforting meal. A variety of seasonings and toppings can provide different flavors. Complete the menu with mashed potatoes, scalloped potatoes, or buttered noodles, along with a green vegetable. Classic Meatloaf is pictured with green beans and oven roasted carrots.

By Ann Cipperly

While we were glad to see a new year, so far it has not kicked in to be a great deal better. We are hopeful for better days ahead, but meanwhile we are enjoying the comforts of being home. Cooking and baking create blissful comforts of home and fill the house with warm, soothing aromas. Meatloaf is one of those comforting homemade dishes.

As I am writing this, it is a gloomy, cloudy day with rain forecasted, as it has been for the last week or two. When I have been outside with our dog Barkley, the first thing I do when I walk in the door is put the kettle on for hot tea. I keep a variety of teas, including green and black teas with decaf as well.

Once the tea is poured, I generally sit at my favorite chair by the fire in our small morning room adjoining the kitchen. A soft throw lays across the ottoman in front of the chair, as well as a larger one thrown across the back of the chair for a cozy, warm spot to sit. Barkley will join me or take a nap on his own blanket on the sofa (Mister Spoiled has a soft blanket in almost every room). 

Bookcases flank the fireplace, and books are stacked on tables and under tables. I grew up with my father having a love of reading and rarely watching television except for news. My brother, sister and I inherited that love of books and reading, except I have more cookbooks than they do.

Almost every room in the house has books, with cookbooks mingled in among them. Two cases are filled with just cookbooks collected from travels. Books are one of my comforts of home, and I savor time reading them, including cookbooks, while sipping tea. Cookbooks offer inspiration and ideas, regardless of whether or not I use the recipes.

This week I have been researching recipes for meatloaf, an old-fashioned comfort dish that is versatile. Meatloaf can be prepared using ground beef, turkey, venison, lamb or a mixture of meats, including pork and sausages. The mixture can be baked in a loaf pan, muffin tins, miniature loaf pans, square  pan or formed into a loaf on a rimmed baking sheet, which is my preferred method.

While ketchup on the top is traditional, it can be enhanced with mustard and brown sugar. Generally, I just add mustard and brown sugar to taste.

While I always add onions, I sauté them in olive oil before adding them to the meat mixture. This ensures there won’t be a crisp, raw onion taste. Before being added, breadcrumbs can be softened in milk or sour cream. Oatmeal can be used instead of breadcrumbs.  

The meat mixture can be embellished with seasonings for an Italian or Cajun meatloaf. A different herb or spice can make a difference in the flavor. With these variations, you can serve meatloaf more often, with the taste being completely different.

If you are not sure you have seasoned the meat mixture enough, you can make a small meatball and cook it in the microwave. This will give you a taste of the meat mixture before it is baked.

Some cooks place bacon slices on top of the meatloaf to provide flavor and keep it moist during baking. A Wellington meatloaf looks attractive and can be created by baking a loaf 30 minutes at 350 degrees, then topping with mushrooms and encasing in pie pastry. Then finish baking at 425 degrees for 20 minutes until pastry is golden.

Homey meatloaf pairs well with mashed or scalloped potatoes or buttered egg noodles. Add a green vegetable such as green beans or spinach to complete the menu. Oven-roasted carrots are also tasty.

Create a comforting meal or two this coming week featuring a delectable meatloaf. Leftovers are good and can be used for making sandwiches. Hopefully, when you are selecting a recipe to make, there will be sunny skies and it will be much warmer. 

Cipperly can be reached at recipes@cipperly.com.

Classic Meatloaf

If you double the meat mixture, you won’t need to double the topping.

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 slices sandwich bread, crusts removed

½ cup milk or sour cream 

1 lb. ground beef

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. black pepper

1 or 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 egg

Topping:

½ cup ketchup

2 tsp. yellow mustard

2 Tbsp. brown sugar

Pour olive oil in a skillet. Add chopped onion and sauté until soft. Set aside.

Tear bread slices into pieces and place in milk or sour cream; set aside.

Add salt and pepper to ground beef. Add Worcestershire sauce

and egg; Add breadcrumbs and onions to meat mixture. Mix well, but don’t overmix.

Place meat mixture in a loaf pan or on a baking pan with a rim and form into a loaf. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

Combine topping ingredients, adjusting to suit taste. Remove meatloaf from oven and pour topping over loaf. Place back in oven and continue to bake for 20 minutes.

Italian Meatloaf

Kim Walker

Serve with Scalloped Potato Gratin (recipe follows), Broccoli with Parmesan and Lemon or Caesar Salad.

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 red pepper, seeded, small diced

1 onion, diced

2 tsp. chopped garlic

1 lb. ground beef

2 eggs

¾ cup breadcrumbs

1 cup grated Parmesan

1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

2 Tbsp. chopped basil

1 Tbsp. chopped parsley

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. black pepper

1 cup marinara sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sauté peppers, onions and garlic in the olive oil until just soft; cool.

Combine remaining ingredients except marinara; add pepper mixture. Place into greased loaf pan. Top with marinara sauce. Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until thermometer reaches 160 degrees. Let rest five minutes. Slice and serve. Serves four.

Scalloped Potato Gratin

Kim Walker

1½ cups heavy cream

1 sprig fresh thyme

2 garlic cloves, chopped

½ tsp. nutmeg

Butter

2 lbs. russet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/8-inch thick slices

Salt and pepper to taste

½ cup Parmesan, plus more for broiling

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a saucepan, heat cream with a sprig of thyme, garlic and nutmeg. Grease casserole dish. Place a layer of potatoes in an overlapping pattern and season with salt and pepper. Remove cream from heat; then pour a little over potatoes; top with a third of the Parmesan cheese. Make two more layers. Bake uncovered 45 minutes.

Sprinkle with additional Parmesan; broil until cheese melts.

Mini Glazed Meatloaves

Jennifer Collins

Serve with Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes (recipe follows).

Glaze:

4 tsp. vegetable oil

¼ cup tomato paste

2 Tbsp. cider vinegar

2 tsp. honey

2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

2 tsp. smooth Dijon mustard

¼ tsp. salt

Combine glaze ingredients in small saucepan and simmer, whisking constantly, for two minutes until glaze is satiny smooth. Set aside.

Meatloaves:

2 slices sandwich bread

½ medium onion, roughly chopped

1 garlic clove, chopped

1 medium celery stalk, roughly chopped

1 medium carrot, roughly chopped

Olive oil, for cooking

1 tsp. salt

Black pepper to taste

2 lb. ground beef

2 large eggs

1 Tbsp. tomato paste

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

1 tsp. smoked paprika

2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

¼ cup chopped parsley

½ cup milk

Heat oven to 350 degrees and lightly coat two 9-by-13-inch baking dishes with cooking spray.

Tear bread into chunks and then use a food processor to make breadcrumbs. Place breadcrumbs in a large bowl; you should have about one cup. Add onion, garlic, celery, and carrot to food processor, and pulse until they are finely chopped.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once skillet is hot, coat bottom with olive oil. Let it heat for a minute, and then add finely chopped vegetables. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until they begin to brown: about 10 minutes.

Add vegetables to the large bowl with breadcrumbs, and then add remaining ingredients. Stir all this together with a fork or your hands until evenly blended.

Form the meat mixture into twelve 3-inch meatballs, each weighing about 4 oz. Arrange six in each baking dish and drizzle each meatball with a teaspoon of tomato glaze. Bake until cooked through, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes

Jennifer Collins

2 lb. Yukon gold potatoes (about 6)

8 Tbsp. unsalted butter

1 cup buttermilk

1 tsp. salt

Black pepper to taste

Place potatoes in a medium pot and cover with a couple inches cold water. Bring to a boil over high heat, and then reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 20 minutes once simmering begins. Potatoes are ready when a knife can be inserted with little resistance. Drain potatoes when done, then wipe the pot dry.

As soon as potatoes are cooked and cool enough to handle, peel them using a paring knife. Then mash them until smooth.

In the empty potato pot, melt butter over medium heat and continue cooking once it has melted, stirring almost constantly, until brown bits form around the edge and bottom, and it smells nutty. Pour hot butter and any browned bits over the potatoes.

Add buttermilk to the pot and warm it gently so as not to cool down the potatoes when you add it. Then pour over potatoes. Add salt and pepper to taste, and stir to combine.

To serve, place a dollop of potatoes in a shallow bowl, top with a mini meatloaf and garnish with parsley.

Martha’s Turkey Meatloaf

1 lb. ground turkey

1 5.5 oz. can tomato juice

½ cup oatmeal

1 egg

¼ cup finely chopped onion

¼ tsp. salt

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients; mix thoroughly. Press into an 8-by-4-inch loaf pan. Bake for one hour.

Topping:

½ cup catsup

2 Tbsp. brown sugar

1 tsp. mustard

Mix all together. Spread on meatloaf after it has been baking for 30 minutes.

Meatloaf with Special Glaze

Meri Payne

Meatloaf:

1 ½ lb. ground beef

1 egg

1 ½ tsp. salt

½ tsp. black pepper

½ cup milk

4 Tbsp. ketchup

1 cup dry breadcrumbs

Special Glaze:

½ cup chopped onion

½ cup ketchup

4 Tbsp. brown sugar

4 Tbsp. vinegar

2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

Combine all ingredients for the meatloaf. Place in a loaf pan.

For the glaze, combine all ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour over meatloaf. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour.

Eggplant Meatloaf

Page and Murray Adams

¾ lb. ground beef

¾ lb. ground pork

1 small yellow onion, chopped

2 Tbsp. mustard

2 Tbsp. ketchup

2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1 egg, beaten slightly

1/3 cup dried bread crumbs

1 tsp. dried Italian seasonings

Salt and pepper to taste

Mix above ingredients together in a large bowl. Spread meat mixture evenly over a greased cookie sheet with a raised edge. Press meat down to form a base about 1/8 inch from each edge.

Topping:

1 medium jar favorite marinara sauce

1 medium eggplant

1½ cups grated mozzarella cheese

Slice eggplant in 1/3-inch cross section slices and sauté in olive oil in skillet; remove and drain on paper towel. Spread marinara sauce over meat mixture and arrange eggplant slices on top covering the flattened meatloaf.

Bake for an hour at 350 degrees or until meat is completely cooked. Ten minutes before meatloaf finishes cooking, sprinkle grated cheese over top of entire loaf and finish baking. Cool slightly and cut into squares.

Meatloaf and A Complete Meal Made Simple for the Busy Mama

Lindsee Baubles

1-2 lbs. ground chuck

1 egg

1/2 tsp. ground black pepper

1/4 cup milk

1/2 cup dry, very fine Italian breadcrumbs

1 tsp. salt

1 ½ tsp. Tony C’s Cajun seasoning, optional

2 Tbsp. catsup

2 Tbsp. barbecue sauce

1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

Less than 1/4 cup finely diced onion (you will need about 1/2 cup total for the recipe)

Mix all of the above ingredients well and form into a loaf. Place in large Pyrex dish.

1 bag baby carrots

2-3 baking potatoes, peeled and cut into medium-sized slices similar to large steak fries

Arrange carrots and potatoes evenly around the meatloaf in the dish.

Sauce:

4 Tbsp. brown sugar

3 Tbsp. white vinegar

2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

1/2 cup catsup

1/4 cup onion (diced very fine)

Combine all sauce ingredients and bring to a boil; pour over meatloaf. Cover with foil. Bake at 375 degrees for 1 hour 10 minutes to 1 hour 20 (check center of loaf to be sure it is cooked and texture of vegetables).

I usually separate my meat and vegetables after serving and drizzle a little leftover juices onto remaining loaf so it does not dry out.

Cheese Stuffed Meatloaf with Gravy

Erin Wood

Meatloaf:

1 large Idaho potato

1 large onion

2 Tbsp. and more olive oil

2 tsp. salt or to taste

½ tsp. pepper or to taste

2 lb. ground chuck

2 cups breadcrumbs

½ cup grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese

2 eggs

½ cup tomato sauce

1 tsp. parsley flakes

1 tsp. basil flakes

1 tsp. garlic powder

8 oz. mozzarella, cubed

Gravy:

2 cups beef broth

3 Tbsp. corn starch

1 tsp. onion powder

1 tsp. brewed black coffee

Salt and pepper to taste

½ tsp. parsley

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grate potato and onion. Add 2 Tbsp. olive oil to skillet; sauté potato and onion until light brown, adding salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

In a large bowl, mix meat, breadcrumbs, grated cheese, eggs, tomato sauce, parsley, basil, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Add cooled potato and onion mixture; mix well.

On a sheet of waxed paper or foil, place meat and shape into a rectangle. Flatten the meat and place cubed mozzarella in the middle; fold over all sides to encase the cheese.

Place loaf on a baking pan and pat loaf with olive oil. Bake for one hour.

For gravy, combine ingredients in a saucepan, stirring often until boiling and mixture thickens. Serve over meatloaf.

Cajun Meat Loaf

Scott Grard

Seasoning Mix:

2 whole bay leaves, optional

1 Tbsp. salt

1 tsp. ground red pepper (I like to use cayenne)

1 tsp. black pepper

½ tsp. white pepper

½ tsp. ground cumin

½ tsp. ground nutmeg

4 Tbsp. unsalted butter

¾ cup finely chopped onions

½ cup finely chopped celery

½ cup finely chopped green bell peppers (sometimes I use red bell peppers instead)

¼ cup finely chopped green onions

2 tsp. minced garlic

1 Tbsp. Tabasco sauce

1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

½ cup evaporated milk

½ cup catsup

1½ lb. ground beef

½ lb. ground pork

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup very fine dry breadcrumbs

Combine the seasoning mix ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

Melt butter in a sauce pan over medium heat. Add onions, celery, bell peppers, green onions, garlic, Tabasco, Worcestershire and seasoning mix. Sauté until mixture starts sticking excessively (about six-to-eight minutes), stirring occasionally and scraping the pan bottom well.

Stir in milk and catsup. Continue cooking for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool to room temperature.

Place ground beef and pork in an un-greased 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Add eggs, cooked vegetable mixture (removing bay leaves), and breadcrumbs. Mix by hand until thoroughly combined. In the center of the pan, shape the mixture into a loaf that is about 1 ½ inches high, 6 inches wide and 12 inches long.

THIS LAST STEP IS REALLY IMPORTANT: Bake the loaf uncovered in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, then raise the heat to 400 degrees and continue cooking until done, about 35 minutes longer.

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