Old-fashioned meatloaf.

I still have a peck’s worth of peaches on my counter.  The temperature shot up today and we’ve got the air conditioner rumbling on low.  I sun-tanned this morning.  And ate an ice-cream for lunch.

But despite all that, I’m officially in fall mode.  There’s no going back after you’ve had a few mid-September rains and some cool weather, and the thought of butternut squash soup and apple pies and long, slow braises all enter your head.  I may even be swimming in the bay next weekend if this hot weather keeps up, but I’ll be doing so in fall mode; smores will be required afterward.

To enter fall-mode properly, I made meatloaf.  Not a fancy one, like this French loaf I’ve been eyeing, or one with un-meatloafy ingredients, chiles or what-have-you.  No, I made an old-fashioned meatloaf, with good ol’ Heinz ketchup, store-bought breadcrumbs, and locally smoked bacon.  Because you see, when I say old-fashioned, I mean it.  There was a butcher shop involved.  And ground beef made from the cattle that graze out back.  The vegetables were from the local farmer markets, the eggs from our friends Carla and Harry; only the ketchup and breadcrumbs were, well, nationally produced (is that what we call things that aren’t local?).

Obviously not everyone can buy all local ingredients to make a meatloaf, but getting good meat (preferably from a butcher) will certainly make your meatloaf taste better.  A few things to look for:  you want meat that is not ground to bits but looks like thick, loopy strings of meat.  You want to see bits of white fat throughout.  If possible, try to buy it from a butcher (you can try to find a local butcher here) so you see the meat in the butcher’s case instead of having to buy it pre-wrapped.  The color should either be purple or bright red.  If it’s bright red outside but gray inside, that means that it’s not as fresh as can be, but okay in a pinch.  If it looks gray and dull all over, don’t buy it—it’s about to spoil. If you can’t find good ground meat, buy chuck and ask the butcher to grind it up for you, or bring it home to do yourself.

When it comes to topping, I’m a line-of-ketchup-down-the-middle type of gal, but we had some perfectly smoked bacon and I guarantee that if you do too, it’s impossible not to use it.  I didn’t miss the ketchup at all and I think the bacon kept everything extra juicy.  And we had bacon on the side, a serious plus.

On the side went fingerling potatoes, turnips, and carrots, braised in chicken stock, browned butter, and a pinch of cinnamon.  And boy, oh boy, it declared fall.  Root vegetables will do that.  Cinnamon, too.

If you’d like to celebrate the beginning of fall with this meatloaf, I really hope you’ll make the veggies alongside.  The carrots speak to the subtle tomato sweetness in the meatloaf.  The turnips are both sweet and starchy.  And potatoes and meatloaf are eternal partners; one cannot exist without the other.  And I’m beginning to believe that fall cannot exist without meatloaf.

Old-fashioned Meatloaf

adapted from Gourmet

2 cups finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 celery rib, chopped fine
1 carrot, chopped fine
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2/3 cup ketchup plus additional as an accompaniment if desired
2 pounds ground chuck
scant 1 cup store-bought bread crumbs
2 large eggs, beaten lightly
1/3 cup minced fresh parsley leaves

4-6 slices bacon

Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large heavy skillet cook onion, garlic, celery, and carrot in butter over moderate heat, stirring, 5 minutes. Cook vegetables, covered, stirring occasionally, until carrot it tender, about 5 minutes more. Stir in salt and pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and 1/3 cup of ketchup and cook, stirring, 1 minute.

In a large bowl combine well vegetables, meats, bread crumbs, eggs, and parsley. In a shallow baking pan form mixture into 1 10-by 5-inch oval loaf and lay bacon slices over the top.

Bake meat loaf in oven 1 hour, or until a meat thermometer inserted in center registers 155°F.

Printable Recipe

Braised Carrots, Turnips, and Potatoes with Cinnamon

2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 pounds potatoes, washed and halved
chicken stock
salt, pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pound baby turnips, peeled and halved
1 pound carrots, peeled and cut into thick coins

In a large skillet, heat butter and olive oil over medium-high heat until the butter foams and begins to brown.  Add potatoes and saute for one minute.  Add chicken stock to reach halfway up the potatoes.  Add 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, and cinnamon.  Bring to a boil and cover.  Cook for 5 minutes, then add the turnips and carrots.

Cook, covered, for another 15-20 minutes.  Uncover and continue to cook until the liquid boils down and the vegetables caramelize and brown, stirring gently throughout, so that most pieces brown without breaking apart.  Serve with a sprinkling of chives.

Printable Recipe

34 thoughts on “Old-fashioned meatloaf.”

  1. I was craving homestyle meatloaf, and was searching for the best recipe. The kind that oozes juice and smells delightful. I think I found my winner. Thanks Robin 😉

  2. I’ve never been very sure what meatload was. It’s one of those things (like “corndogs”) that I heard mentioned in American films and TV programmes and just built up a picture in my head of. Got to say, this looks MUCH better than what I was imagining!

  3. We are totally on the same wavelength! I was eyeing a different meatloaf recipe, but uncertain about it (mushrooms? turkey?) and so maybe this one is the way to go.

  4. Meatloaf often gets a bad rap because there are so many bad ones other there. Thanks for putting a good word out on this classic. Your first photo made me say “yum” aloud in the office.

  5. sans the bacon, lovely looking meatloaf i’d make. i can appreciate the way you started and spent your day. and, still be in Fall mode! fantastic. good to be back again 🙂

  6. Oh, Boy. I just wanted to pick that bacon right off the top and start nibbling. I’m in full fall swing too, which sucks of course because it’s still a bit too warm to have the oven on all afternoon. I’ve been wanting to make my meatloaf (a cajun style from Chef Pruh’homme). But, last night I ended up with heat and serve Hormel. Ugg. Or even worse, my in-laws brought theirs over last week, with whole hard-boiled eggs wrapped in proscuitto right in the middle. Yeah – their from Sicily — can you tell? Maybe I’ll make them your recipe and show them how it’s supposed to be done.

  7. I have been looking for the perfect recipe to welcome my honey home from a long trip. This will hit the spot I think! Nothing says welcome home more then warm meatloaf and a side of taters. I am sure he will lick the plate clean. Thanks! 🙂

  8. Just made both the meatloaf and veggies. I substituted brussels sprouts for the turnips and finished with just a dash of brown sugar. My sneak preview promised a wonderful dinner!!

  9. Meatloaf recipes simply astound me. Why? Because NONE are remotely similar to what I grew up on!!!! I have no idea why stupid things like bread crumbs or the like are included!
    My Mom used oatmeal, which makes a *moist* meatloaf, just like I love!!!
    Never had a meatloaf as juicy as my Mom’s!! Leftovers are GREAT for sandwiches!!!

      1. No exact amounts, just add an *equal* amount of oatmeal as stated for bread crumbs or crackers or whatever “breadish” addition. Let me know what you think!!!!! ;^)

  10. I wanted to make a copy of the Meat loaf recipe for my files. I DID NOT WANT OR NEED 7 PAGES OF OPINIONS, etc. There should be a way to copy one page only…not the whole article, as it may be. Or ask for “RECIPE ONLY”. What a waste of paper.

  11. Oh, my goodness! A computer newbie who’s never heard of “copy & paste,” which works in ALL OSs (operating systems) that I’ve ever seen!
    Select (highlight) the material you wish to print,
    under your “Edit” menu (or ctrl/command c), hit “copy,”
    or in your “Print” menu, select “Print selection”),
    open NotePad (or your favorite word processor), hit “paste” from “Edit” menu (or ctrl/command v),
    then PRINT.
    These commands will become automatic when you’re more familiar with your computer!

    1. Don’t hit the PRINT icon. Go to File and click on Print Preview. then when you click on print you can tell the printer which pages you want printed. (after browsing through and deciding).

  12. made this last night and it was best ever!! I will certainly use this recipe again. The bacon on top, of course, was incredible. I also think i like the idea of using just beef instead of the mix of veal and pork and beef. It just ended up with a much better flavor

  13. It is so hard to just print the recipe. All the other information is great. But I don’t want to take it up to my kitchen. Nor Do I want or need to use all this ink on ads.

  14. Absolutely loved this recipe! The bacon will now replace my family’s topping of brown sugar and half and half. I am now living in Italy and was looking for a recipe I could do here since I am pretty much without brown sugar – half and half (I could make these on my own but big hassle) and a typical loaf pan. Putting it out like a chibatta loaf is brilliant and cuts the cooking time down preserving the juices.

    Thank you for the post – will keep coming back for more!

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