Friday, June 7, 2024

Meatloaf, Just Like Mom Made!

I can remember going to the A&P grocery store on Capitol Street, with my mom, shopping for the same ingredients we will use for today's recipe. 

The A&P was located just east of Ellis Avenue, across from Livingston Park. In those days Ellis Avenue was not much more than a west Jackson country road and the land that would become Westland Plaza was probably some trees, scattered across pastureland. There were Jitney Jungle Grocery Stores in Jackson, but they were the expensive places to shop and maybe off limits to a construction worker's wife who was trying to feed three or four kids and a hard-working husband while staying within a tight budget.

A lot has changed in the grocery business since those days. Eventually, a TG&Y dime store was built beside the A&P, and both businesses are long gone now. Back then, Dad was a construction Superintendent for Bass Construction, supervising the construction work to build most of the large churches and funeral homes along Capitol, State Street and in the Capitol Complex area. If you attend one of those houses of worship and the roof leaks, I guess you can blame my dad for something he signed off on three quarters of a century ago. I would like to assure those with historical interests that he was not the person responsible to placing the stone Sunflower panels instead of Magnolia Blossoms on the State Office building. That job was done by another contractor company. You say what? Go and look. Mississippi has sunflower panels on the Woolfolk State Office Building and Kansas has our Magnolia Blossoms on their state office building.

I sat alongside my brother with my back against the street side wall of the old Poindexter Branch of DGB and strained to watch my dad working off of a tall scaffold, setting the cross at the top of that steeple while an engineer used a surveyor's transit from the ground and hand signals to make sure Dad and a mason had positioned it properly in alignment with the front of the church and Capitol Street. before bolting it in place. The cross was stainless steel, big, and heavy. It still stands today. I think the church was 1st Presbyterian back then. Calvary Baptist is in the background of that photo. He was superintendent on that job, too. All total, maybe 8 churches in Jackson. Bass Construction was a big operation back then.


Those were the days I fell in love with meatloaf. It was a special meal when we had it. I can remember watching the Ketchup level dropping in the Delmonte Ketchup bottle (Made with Pineapple Cider Vinegar), knowing when it reached a certain level toward empty, Mom would make a meatloaf, rinsing every last bit of red out of the bottle to spread on her meatloaf as the last step in cooking an entree that never had leftovers when dinner was over. I'll share more on that later.

This recipe is basic. I know there are many "better" recipes out there (wink, wink, Martha Stewart, Ms. Barefoot Contessa, Chef Pepin, Andre at Piccadillies, and Mess Sargent Buchman). It avoids using most of the several classic ground meats (Beef, Veal, Pork, and Lamb) some folks use in their recipes. That is fine with me, because I learned how to make an exact duplicate of mom's meatloaf a long time ago and it is the recipe that makes me happiest.

I understand some folks make a brown Gravy to top their meatloaf. Probably Whiskeypalians or Pentecoastians. Certainly not from our family tree.

Here is how I make Mom's Meatloaf:


- 1 or 2 pounds ground beef – Some will mix ground veal and ground pork with their ground beef. I have also seen folks make their meatloaf with ground venison, rabbit, raccoon, ground chicken or turkey. It's hard to get enough ground squirrel to make a meatloaf, but someone probably has.
- 1/2 - 3/4 cup Oatmeal – some will substitute crumbled crackers or bread, but if you do that, it won't be my mom's recipe.
- 1 or 2 eggs, Depending on how tight the budget is that week
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup green bell pepper, diced
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce Please use Lea and Perrins.
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic, or Garlic Salt
- 1 or 2 teaspoons black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 to 1 cup Ketchup - your brand


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Add all ingredients (except ketchup) to a suitably sized mixing bowl. 

Mix well. I use my hands. Form the mixture into a loaf, shaped to suit your needs. (Mom sometimes made individual burger patty sized meatloaf portions, especially when she had only a certain amount of meatloaf and six of us to feed. Anyhow, making controlled size portions works well).

Place the loaf into a suitable loaf pan or centered on a baking sheet. I like my loaf packet fairly tight. That probably helps to keep it from falling apart later.  I also like to line my loaf pan or sheet with aluminum foil to make cleanup easier. There will be fat that is rendered from the loaf as it cooks. The pan or foil liner will catch the fat. It should be poured off and discarded before adding the ketchup.

Cook at 350 degrees F, for approximately 40-60 minutes, until a thermometer, inserted into the thickest part of the loaf shows an internal temperature of 150 – 155 degrees F. At this point, add however much ketchup you like to the top of your loaf. I like a lot. Then cook the loaf for 10-15 minutes to set the ketchup. Be certain the loaf has reached 155 – 160 degrees F before removing the loaf from the oven.

Other Options: if you like to change stuff to make a recipe be your version: We have added both A-1 and Heinz steak sauce to the loaf (2 Tablespoons), when mixing it (before cooking). Either of these, or your favorite brand will give your meatloaf a different taste for a change of taste meal. Your favorite brand of BBQ sauce added the same way is another nice change of pace. Caution: Adding too much will make the loaf too wet and it may fall apart when sliced. 

I like mine served like a good meat and two sides chef would send to the table.

It's nice to be a country boy!

Darn! I almost forgot. I said when I was a kid, we never had leftovers when Mom cooked her meatloaf. Mom is 96 now and doesn't cook anymore. Our kids are also out on their own, so when meatloaf is made, there are only two of us, and pretty much always leftovers. Did you know the #1 best leftover meat sandwich in the world is a cold Meatloaf sandwich? Well, it is:


Cold Meatloaf, good bread, yellow mustard. Everything else is optional! Maybe some Amber Fluid to wash it down would be nice.

Boy this is an old photo, as is evident by the ancient beer can design. When the sandwich is made, there almost never is time to take a picture before mine is gone, so this one will have to do.

Thanks for looking at my post.

God Bless You.


Anonymous said...

Now I'm drooling. A simple, plain meatloaf never lasts long at our house, either. I use bread instead of oatmeal because I always have some bread on hand but rarely oatmeal. Heinz Chili Sauce works well instead of just ketchup.

I noticed that the meatloaf in the first picture was baked on an old-fashioned broiler pan with the removable lid that has slits in it to allow the fat to drain. That's what I use, too. You can line the pan with foil under the lid. Don't ever throw away those old broiler pans. They are very useful, and no one makes them anymore. Mine came from a gas stove I owned about 30 years ago.

Thank you for this. I'm making meatloaf for dinner tonight.

Kingfish said...

Used to enjoy a good meatloaf sammich at Lou's.

Anonymous said...

I'll make the loaf tomorrow. Why the specific rec. on Lea
& Perrins?

Anonymous said...

My grandmother's meatloaf had tomato gravy and was always served with mashed potatoes and homemade biscuits. It was delicious. Now, I am more likely to make a barbecue meatloaf. (As in sauce not actually smoked). It is delicious as well. And takes less time. And to add nutrition, I usually grate a ton of bell pepper, carrot, onion and celery, then saute it (to get out excess moisture), and add to the meat mix. I think it's lovely that so many of us have fond memories of meatloaf

Anonymous said...

Bear, you HAVE to publish a book that includes your food and Jackson's history stories!

Bill Dees said...

Paul Prudhomme's Cajun Meatloaf recipe in a bit more complex than this one (which sounds really good), and is quite a bit spicier! It has a half cup of ketchup, and a half cup of condensed milk, mixed together with the spices and holy trinity, then incorporated into the loaf, rather than spread on top.

Anonymous said...

Mom made meatloaf so often that I pretty much wore out on it by the time I finished high school

Honk for the Mayor! said...

Yum.... yum, yum! Will try the oats... makes perfect sense. Really appreciate your posts!

Anonymous said...

A 'good' meatloaf ain't got oatmeal (or any other filler) in it, and it shore 'nuff don't have ketchup smathered all over it (unless you're trying to hide bad meatloaf). The rest is fine.

Anonymous said...

@9:44, because Lea & Perrins is simply the best. All other brands are at best imitations, that in my experience range from bad to godawful.

Anonymous said...

I look forward to these posts. Definitely making meatloaf this weekend!

Anonymous said...

This looks divine! My family loves meatloaf and I’m going to try your recipe. My meatloaf glaze- rather than ketchup alone - is ketchup, brown sugar and dry mustard - gives it a tang. Your meatloaf looks better than mine bc mine always seems too dense- yours looks “mushier.” Maybe it’s bc I use breadcrumbs instead of oatmeal? I’ll try oatmeal. Thanks not only for your recipes but the wonderful stories and history. That your dad placed that cross WAY up there is amazing! What a cool thing to be able to tell people when you were growing up!

Saltwaterpappy said...

If you are too lazy to cook, Scrooge's has a great meatloaf at Monday lunch.

Stuff About ZeroBear PolyBear said...

9:44 L&P, because Mom used it, and after 96 years she deserves respect from me.


Anonymous said...

I prefer name brand products, and despise the wealthy woke grocery chain that tries to sell (for more profit, not to 'save me money') their store brand. Yes, they are Cincinnati based, the shelves are empty at peak times due to night slaves being their roving stock clerks, and they are as woke and brainless as any corporation could be.

Then, they have an overpaid manager asking, "Did you find everything?" It takes all self control not to say you heathen bastard, you rotate everything constantly to force me to waste my time looking (a deliberate strategy of Kroger), and then replace name brands with Kroger Krap. Before slapping him.

Wally World at least sells name brands and does not spend half each day moving stock with out of date aisle markers to force you to waste a day shopping. No wonder their market share increases.

Great recipe, and, yes, Mom was right. Except for the bell peppers. Sorry. My Mom outranks your Mom. /s

Anonymous said...

@10:49, do you even cook at ALL? Do you even know what meatloaf is? All meatloaf recipes have some kind of grain filler, either bread or oatmeal or similar to make it less dense. Otherwise it’s a giant ball of ground meat. Andall have either a tomato based sauce/glaze - ie KETCHUP - or a brown gravy based sauce. You embarrass yourself. It’s a country old-time food - not gourmet. Now you go cook your big ball of ground meat and shut your pie-hole.

Kingfish said...

Watched Chef Ramsey make one on Kitchen Nightmares (UK). Could almost smell it through the tv, it looked so good. start at 21:15

Anonymous said...

The church in the foreground of your church photo is/ was Central Presbyterian Church. Went there many times as a child with my grandparents, whose ancestors founded that church in the 1800s. The bldg has housed Stewpot Community Svcs since the early 1990s. Appreciate the pic & your piece of history. And I always appreciate your recipes; thanks for taking the time to post them.

Clay Edwards said...

Damn, I was dead set on Mexican tonight. I'll grip and grin through it but it look's like I'll be cooking meat loaf tomorrow

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this! I loved my mom's recipe but I could never get it to come out right. I finally just gave up. This looks wonderful.

Anonymous said...

I didn't have time to prepare a real meatloaf, but remembered I have a Stouffer's meatloaf in the freezer.
After I "doctor it up" it will be a decent substitution. Plus the amber fluid is aways in stock.

BTW, thanks for the West Jackson memories!
Although I grew up in Northeast JXN, I have fond memories of West & South Jackson during the 60's & 70's.
(visiting family that lived over there).

Anonymous said...

With the title having meatloaf in it, I was sure we would have a "Paradise by the dashboard lights", or " Two out of three ain't bad" reference.

Anonymous said...

You have the best simple, classic southern recipes I've come across. I want to make everything you've written about. Seriously, you should consider writing a cookbook.

Entrepreneur's Contribution said...

"Don't ever throw away those old broiler pans. They are very useful, and no one makes them anymore."

If you have access to a cutting torch, you can actually make eight of them from a '59 Pontiac front-grill.

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