Mary Anne here. Like many of my baby boomer friends, I rank meatloaf high on my list of all-time favorite comfort foods. It harkens back to my childhood growing up in Levittown when Diners were housed in actual train cars, permanently derailed and kitted out with classic Americana.
The very thought of meatloaf brings me right back to the 1950s. I close my eyes and see Mom, clad in rolled up jeans, Dad’s untucked, oversize white oxford shirt, and her classic penny loafers, each polished shoe complete with a glowing copper Abe. By day, Mom’s auburn hair was held neatly in curlers, only to be removed at 4:30pm when she made the transformation from dowdy mom to a lip-sticked vixen for my dad. So Ozzie and Harriet!
With six little kids and a demanding husband, Mom scheduled our daily meals with very little wiggle room in terms of variety, rarely varying from week to week and if you didn’t like it, well you ate it all anyway. There is comfort in routine, and we Ellicotts knew that Mondays brought meatloaf with mashed potatoes and “Le Seur” canned peas, Tuesdays hot dogs and beans were featured, Fridays we dined on frozen fish sticks and “Tater Tots” (ugh!), and so on. As a little girl I didn’t love the meatloaf nearly as much as I adored mixing the peas into the potatoes, creating bowling alleys with the fluffy white mounds and then shooting green peas down the “lanes” with the tines of my fork! The meatloaf merely created a barrier in which I hid my playtime from stern parental eyes.
Recently, I had been thinking about foods that soothe the soul – most especially Mom’s meatloaf – when Mariel, out-of-the-blue, asked for the recipe, saying she wanted to update it with an eye towards healthier ingredients. We agreed it would be fun to post my mom’s old-fashioned recipe and then Mariel’s up-to-date alternative (Turkey Meatloaf Mini-Muffins). Our very own Feast on the Cheap cook-off with our readers as the judges!
Old-Fashioned Meat Loaf with Mashed Potatoes
Note: You will need a large bread loaf pan for this recipe.
3 lbs. ground meatloaf mixture (pork, veal, and hamburger) –$11.35
¾ cup fresh breadcrumbs – stock
¾ cup milk – stock
1 small onion, minced – $0.35
2 large eggs, lightly beaten – stock
a “healthy” dollop of ketchup, Worcestershire Sauce, and A-One Sauce
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste – stock
4 strips of bacon (optional) – $1.06
Grand Total Assuming Well-Stocked Pantry: $12.76
Total Per Serving: $1.60
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Using a light touch, mix together all of the ingredients, except for the bacon, in a medium to large bowl.
2. Shape the mixture to fit into an un-greased bread loaf pan. Poke 3 holes in the top of the meatloaf and fill the holes with a bit more ketchup. If using bacon, lay the pieces lengthwise across the top of the meatloaf.
3. Bake for 1 to 1 ½ hours until juices in center run clear when pricked with a toothpick or cake tester.
4. Drain off the fat and serve with mashed potatoes and fresh or frozen green peas.
Simply Mashed Potatoes
Nothing fancy…nothing exotic, just butter, milk, salt and pepper – a fluffy scoop of heaven.
4 large baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes – $2.20
4 Tablespoons butter, sliced – stock
¼ to ½ cup gently warmed milk or cream – stock
salt and pepper, to taste – stock
Grand Total Assuming Well-Stocked Pantry: $2.20
Total Per Serving: $0.28
1. Boil the potato cubes in a pot of salted water for 10 minutes or until the tines of a fork easily pierce the potatoes.
2. Drain the potatoes in a colander and return them to the warm pot. Add the butter and mash them well using either a hand mixer or potato masher. Gradually add the warmed milk until desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately. Note: Be careful not to over mix the potatoes or they will become gluey.
The potatoes can be reheated either in the top of a double boiler, or in the oven at 350 degrees. If you plan to make them ahead of time, butter a ceramic or glass casserole dish (aluminum will turn your potatoes black) large enough to accommodate. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use. Bring the casserole back to room temperature by placing on a counter for about 2 hours. Dot the top of the mashed potatoes with slivers of butter and bake, covered loosely with foil, for about 30 minutes until piping hot.