Meatloaf: The Ultimate Comfort Food

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There’s no disputing the power of food to provide consolation in times of stress, and a classic meatloaf is no exception. Very few dishes combine tradition and innovation the way meatloaf does. My husband, Michael, loves meatloaf, and evidently, he’s not alone.

Statistically, affluent baby boomers order the entree on a regular basis when dining out. Whether it’s made from ground beef combined with pork or veal, or a more modern version featuring ground turkey or chicken, meatloaf is at the top of the list of comfort foods. It’s about time this humble dish got the recognition it deserves.

It takes about 1-1/2 pounds of ground meat to make a meatloaf that serves six people. I’ve found that “marinating” the ground meat in a bowl with 1/4 cup of water, a tablespoon of mild to medium salsa, and a tablespoon each of Worcestershire sauce and steak sauce makes for a moister, more flavorful meatloaf.

I season my meatloaf with salt, pepper, minced bell pepper, garlic, onions and 1/2 of a shredded carrot, along with fresh herbs including parsley, thyme and basil or a tablespoon of dried Italian Seasoning.

A cup of a starch or binder is the next component in a classic meatloaf. I use seasoned breadcrumbs or crushed crackers, and an egg. A gentle touch when combining the mixture ensures that the meatloaf will be well-seasoned without being tough.

The final step in making a traditional meatloaf is adding the “gravy.” I combine ketchup with salt, pepper and medium salsa or barbecue sauce. I pour off any accumulated fat, and then slather the topping on the meatloaf halfway through the cooking process.

Meatloaf isn’t a complex dish, nor does it make a visually stunning presentation. As a friend of mine once said, “It’s a lot of meat in a loaf, and you don’t have to chew it very much – what’s not to like?”

Meatloaf has provided a tasty way to stretch a dollar for generations of American families. In these uncertain economic times, we could all use a plate full of comfort.


Betty Crocker photo

The great thing about this recipe from the Betty Crocker kitchens ( is that the mini meatloaves provide individual servings and are ready in just 30 minutes. This would make a great main-course dish for children or a unique appetizer for a retro recipe party.

1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 tablespoon packed brown sugar
1 pound lean (at least 80 percent) ground beef
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 cup Original Bisquick mix
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 small onion, finely chopped (1/4 cup)
1 egg

  1. Heat oven to 450 F. In small bowl, stir ketchup and brown sugar until mixed; reserve 1/4 cup for topping. In large bowl, stir remaining ingredients and remaining ketchup mixture until well-mixed.
  2. Spray 13-by-9-inch pan with cooking spray. Place meat mixture in pan; pat into 12-by-4-inch rectangle. Cut lengthwise down center and then crosswise into sixths to form 12 loaves. Separate loaves, using spatula, so no edges are touching. Brush loaves with reserved 1/4 cup ketchup mixture.
  3. Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until loaves are no longer pink in center and meat thermometer inserted in center of loaves reads 160 F. Serves 6.

Substitution: While the mixture of ground beef and pork gives these little loaves a unique flavor, you can also use 1-1/2 pounds of ground beef instead of the mixture.

Angela Shelf Medearis is an award-winning children’s author, culinary historian and the author of seven cookbooks. Her new cookbook is “The Kitchen Diva’s Diabetic Cookbook.” Her website is To see how-to videos, recipes and much, much more, Like Angela Shelf Medearis, The Kitchen Diva! on Facebook. Recipes may not be reprinted without permission from Angela Shelf Medearis.

(c) 2018 King Features Synd. Inc., and Angela Shelf Medearis


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