Meatloaf with Staying Power

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My mom was the kind of home cook who relied on a rotating weekly dinner schedule to get meals on the table for her family of six. Even by predictable standards, her line-up had some flare: roast pork on Wednesday followed by pork and vegetable stir-fry on Thursday, and the occasional experiment (hello Haddock soufflé) when you least expected it. This was the 1960s, before the pasta primavera and quiche 70s, blackened Cajun anything and pesto 80s, Asian chicken salad and molten chocolate cake 90s, and the unlikely slow rise of the Kale-as-lettuce everything vegetable 2000s.

One thing never changed though, and that was Tuesday night dinner; the day she made the most delicious meatloaf you’ll ever eat. Years after I had left my mom’s memorable dinner table, and become a professional cook, I quizzed her on her method.

She swore by the one-two punch of grated onion and carrots, both as a moistening tool, and as a vegetable camouflage technique. Pair that with her three chili sauce indentations/reservoirs, and you have a mighty little meatloaf on your hands. Additionally, she cooked low and slow at 325 degrees in an effort to avoid the unsightly protein albumen that puddles on top if it is cooked at too high a temperature. What juices did emerge, she immediately poured off the loaf, and then turned around and poured it right back on top, so that the meaty rectangle could reabsorb all that flavor while still hot.

Even in today’s 2019 all food-fetish culture, mom’s old school meatloaf remains a star student. And next day’s sandwiches? Forget about it! You won’t make it past breakfast before making one.

Recipe of the Day: Old School meatloaf 
Serves 6
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INGREDIENTSFor the Meatloaf:

  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 pounds ground beef chuck
  • 1/4 cup shaved onion
  • 1 shaved carrot (1/2 cup)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

For the Chili Sauce

  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 teaspoon sambal oelek
  • 1/4 cup sweet relish


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Soak breadcrumbs in milk. Mix together beef, onions, carrot, eggs, soaked breadcrumb mixture, salt, and pepper.
    Combine all chili sauce ingredients and set aside.
  2. Place meat mixture in 8 1/2-by-4 1/2-inch loaf pan. Make three holes, spaced evenly lengthwise, in meat mixture and fill holes with 1/3 to 1/2 cup chili sauce total.
  3. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest 10 to 15 minutes. Pour any accumulated juices back over top of meatloaf; slice and serve.
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