Mama made meatloaf in what I have come to discover is a very nontraditional way. But I love Mama’s Meatloaf and still make it her way to this day. It’s great hot out of the oven and we always save some to make cold sandwiches the next day.
I was less right than I usually am!
My close friend, Sue and I have been friends since elementary school. We rarely disagree on anything but meatloaf was one thing I was sure she was wrong about. Mama always put onion, celery, and peppers in her meatloaf and Sue insisted it should be all meat with no vegetables. I remember once telling Sue she didn’t make meatloaf; she made a big, loaf-shaped hamburger. It turns out Sue’s version is the traditional version while Mama’s was definitely not! Sorry, Sue!
So I Googled “What is meatloaf?”
Wikipedia listed the way 30 countries prepare their versions of meatloaf. Not a single country makes it Mama’s way. Some of the varieties seem really strange to me (Romania’s meatloaf really ranked on my “strange meatloaf list”) but I’m sure they’d think Mama’s version of meatloaf is really weird. I don’t care. I love Mama’s Meatloaf and I hope you give it a try.
Probably as a result of raising young kids during the Depression Mama used oatmeal or torn up bits of bread in her meatloaf. It was the way that cooks stretched the meatloaf to feed more people then. It also acts as a binder to hold the loaf together. I almost always use oatmeal.
And I simply can’t imagine eating meatloaf without the onions, celery, and peppers in it. I love the texture and the slight crunch they add. I also always found it odd that people put ketchup or a tomato sauce on top of their meatloaf. How the heck could you make a decent cold sandwich (always with mayonnaise) if you had tomato sauce all over the thing? But I’m learning that there are many ways to make this staple dinner!
I’m too old to change!
Although some of the ways that the world makes meatloaf intrigued me I can’t yet bring myself to try a new recipe. After more than 30 years of making Mama’s Meatloaf I’m just too set in my ways. And I love her recipe and so does my family. Maybe one day I’ll go rogue and try one of the 30 ways but for now I’m sticking with Mama’s Meatloaf.
This is going to be an adventure for you!
To make Mama’s Meatloaf first dice up about a quarter cup of onion, celery, and green, red, and yellow peppers. If you don’t want the crunch in the meatloaf you can sauté them before adding them to the meat mixture but it won’t be quite Mama’s.
After dicing up the vegetables I preheat the oven to 350 degrees and pull out a loaf pan.
You need about 1 pound of ground pork and a pound or two (depending on how much meatloaf you want) of ground beef.
Put them in a large bowl and sprinkle about 1/8 cup of oatmeal on top. You can use bread torn into small pieces instead of oatmeal. Then break one egg over everything. I warned you this is not traditional meatloaf!
Season the meat with salt and pepper and if you like also sprinkle on a bit of garlic powder. Then get your hands in there and start mashing it together. You’re not forming the loaf at this point. You’re just mixing the meats, egg, and oatmeal together.
Add the diced vegetables and, still using your hands, squeeze them in with the meat.
Put the meat mixture into the loaf pan and shape it so it fills the entire pan. You can also cook it in a roasting pan with high sides and form a generally loaf-shaped bundle of meatloaf. I do this sometimes when I feel the need to be a rebel.
Now just bake!
Put the loaf pan in the preheated oven and bake for about 45 minutes. The internal temperature should be 155 degrees. It will rise to 160 as the meatloaf rests.
If you feel compelled to put ketchup, barbecue sauce or tomato sauce on the meatloaf before you bake it you can. Just don’t tell me about it.
I serve Mama’s Meatloaf with baked potatoes and a vegetable. It’s so good hot out of the oven! And the leftover meatloaf makes incredible cold sandwiches!
Mama's Meatloaf is nontraditional but it's delicious hot or cold! And the vegetables are right in the meatloaf!
- 1 pound ground pork
- 2 pounds ground beef
- 1/8 cup oatmeal
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup green pepper, diced
- 1/4 cup yellow pepper, diced
- 1/4 cup red pepper, diced
- 1/2 medium onion, diced
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Garlic powder, to taste (optional)
- Place ground pork and ground beef in a large bowl.
- Sprinkle oatmeal over meat.
- Break egg into the same bowl.
- Season the meat with salt, pepper, and garlic powder (if using).
- Using your hands mix these ingredients together.
- Add diced vegetables and squeeze them into the meat mixture.
- Put meat mixture into a loaf pan shaping it to fill the entire pan.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 45 – 50 minutes (until internal temperature reaches 155 degrees.
- Allow meatloaf to rest and temperature to rise to 160 degrees.
- Serve hot.