Meatloaf is a tasty comfort food. So what if it's not so healthy?

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By: Mary Ann Lienhart-Cross

Jacob Regan/Flickr

As I write this column, the weather is damp and cold and really more like March. With the cold weather I am all for turning on the oven and preparing some tasty comfort food.

One of my favorite foods prepared in the oven is meatloaf. I am sure many of you have some memories of meatloaf growing up. One of my family meals as a child was meatloaf made with all lean beef, a baked potato, baked beans that were baked in the small blue bowl, and a green salad. I am sure the dessert was fruit.

Most cooks have their own recipe, but there are some basic ingredients that are always in the meatloaf. The amounts may vary, and some ingredients may change with what is in the refrigerator.

So what ingredients are in your meatloaf? When I make ours I make the most of my small food processor. I like to use one cup of oatmeal in the meatloaf but I place half of it at a time in the processor and turn into a fine oat flour, then repeat with the other half. Another key ingredient for me in meatloaf is an onion, you just have to have that flavor, even if you can’t see the onion. So I use the food processor to turn the onion into an onion slurry or puree. Again, I do this in two steps as my food processor is really small and I get the best results this way.

Meatloaf makes a great meal and, for meatloaf lovers, there is nothing like a meatloaf sandwich the next day. It makes for great planned-overs.

I don’t have a written recipe for my meatloaf but I will give it a cook’s try. I know traditionally the meat is often a mixture of beef, pork and veal. My meatloaf is all lean beef, but you can also use ground turkey or chicken.

Basic Meatloaf

Ingredients

  • 1 pound of lean ground beef
  • 1 cup of oatmeal processed until fine
  • 1 pureed onion
  • 1 egg
  • half a teaspoon of pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of horseradish
  • half a cup catsup or 1 can of tomato sauce.

Then I look in the refrigerator for any containers that have just a little left in them and add them to the meatloaf; it could be jams, jellies, sauces, salad dressings and/or cheese. This is why I often make one-of-a-kind meatloaves that I can never make again.

Directions

  1. Mix all the ingredients together, but don’t over-mix.
  2. Then place in a loaf pan and bake for one hour in a 350-degree oven. Don’t over-bake it, as you don’t want it to be dry.

Meatloaf can be baked in ring pans, in individual greased custard cups, or shaped and baked in a casserole pan. To make your own ring pan you can use a pie plate and place a glass or custard cup in the center and then shape the meat mixture around it. Individual meat loaves take only about 20 to 30 minutes to bake.

I like a nice sauce or glaze over it. This is not the healthiest, but it sure is good. Take equal amounts of catsup and brown sugar and heat in the microwave and then pour over the meat loaf the last 10 minutes when the baking is finishing. Also try to let the meatloaf sit 10 minutes or so and you will have nice slices. Enjoy!

On the Calendar

If you’re interested in learning about the cheese-making process, join me from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, June 7, at the Purdue Extension Elkhart County Office for a cheese-making workshop. Pre-registration is required and a participation fee does apply. For more information, contact the office at 574-533-0554.

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