Sunday, September 9, 2012

Stepmom's Meat Loaf from Lucy Burdette

LUCY BURDETTE: When Julia so graciously asked me if I'd like to share a recipe from DEATH IN FOUR COURSES, I was delighted! But enough with Key Lime pie and Conch fritters--it's Sunday, maybe time to think about an old-fashioned family supper?

One of the things I most enjoy writing in the food critic mysteries are the scenes where Hayley is cooking up something delicious for her family and friends. She uses that time to take care of the people she loves, burn off nervous energy, and sift through clues, of course. In this scene, her mom, Janet Snow, is cooking dinner on the houseboat. She's been in Key West on what seems like a very loooong visit and everyone's relieved that "the case" has been solved. Hayley's friend Connie is newly engaged and looking for cooking tips.


Mom was kneading meat loaf in a red pottery bowl in Miss Gloria's galley kitchen. She dumped a sleeve of Ritz crackers into my food processor, whirred them into crumbs, and added them to the mix.

"There's no point in trying to make this dish low-fat or otherwise too healthy," she explained to Connie as she worked the crumbs into the meat. "You serve it once in a while, it makes your man happy, end of story. So skip the ground turkey and the quinoa. You need ground beef, some pork if you want to be fancy, plus chopped onion, carrots, and green pepper, cracker crumbs, a few tablespoons of Lipton's Onion Soup mix, half a jar of Bone Suckin' barbecue sauce. And an egg to bind it all together." 

She shaped the red mass into an oval, tucked it into an oblong glass pan, slathered more sauce on top, and shunted it into the oven. 

"If you girls could get started on the mashed potatoes, I'll go freshen up."

Connie looked up from the notes she was taking at the kitchen table. "From Janet Snow's Kitchen" was written across the top of the note card. 

"This is an old family recipe, right?" Connie asked.

"Hayley discovered this one," my mother said. "I never did much care for my own mother's meat loaf." She winked and left the kitchen.

"Don't you dare tell her," I whispered. "It's my stepmother's recipe. One of the few edible things she can make."

Connie snickered; crossed out Janet and penciled in "Stepmom's Meat Loaf."

Stepmom’s Meat Loaf
1.5 lb ground beef (or beef and pork, organic preferred)
½ sleeve Ritz crackers, ground to crumbs
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 green pepper, finely chopped
3 large carrots, peeled and chopped fine in food processor
1 egg
½ jar Bone-sucking barbeque sauce, more for glaze
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix meat well with all the other ingredients, reserving some sauce for topping. Shape the mixture into a loaf in a 9 x 13 glass baking pan. Bake for 1 and ¼ to ½ hours until meat is no longer pink. Drain grease halfway through baking; douse loaf with BBQ sauce, return to oven.
Serve meatloaf with mashed potatoes or oven-roasted potatoes and carrots and a green vegetable or salad.

What about you, Jungle Red Readers? Do you have a special meat loaf recipe?

(And Hank and I thank you for all your support during our release week! We couldn't do it without you!)


  1. Nancy Pickard's om's Meatloaf has become a staple in our house:

    Nancy Pickard’s Mom’s Meatloaf

    1 pound ground beef
    ½ pound mild ground sausage.
    [Nancy says, "Resist the urge to put in crackers or bread crumbs. My grandmother used crumbs, but that was because she needed to "extend" the recipe. We think the meatloaf is jucier without them."]
    1 raw egg
    Chopped onion
    A dollop of catsup
    A smaller dollop of wet mustard (plain ol')
    Salt & pepper to suit yourself
    Smoosh that all up together with your hands.
    Brush top with a little catsup
    Put it in a casserole dish. Nancy's mom says, "don’t form a loaf. It cooks more evenly if you moosh it down (loosely) flat and even in the dish. Also, the dish should have a flower pattern on the outside."

    This is great meatloaf. My children will come home for this.

    1. My recipe is very similar to yours except, I soak a couple slices of white bread in milk, and squish them in. I do form it in to a loaf though and sometime squirt ketchup on top.

  2. Yum to both recipes! And with the weather finally cooling off, I can once again conceive of heating up the kitchen by baking something. It's been months.

    Roberta, the last time I made meatloaf with a bunch of vegetables in it, it crumbled when I tried to cut it. Does yours stay together even with the green pepper?

  3. There is a reason for the existence of meatloaf [beyond the fact that it is really yummy comfort food] and that is the hot meatloaf sandwich.

    Melt a pat of butter in a frying pan; cook a slice of meatloaf until warmed through, turning to brown both sides
    Spread barbeque sauce on two slices of toasted rye bread
    Add the hot, browned slice of meatloaf
    Top with two slices of your favorite cheese [around here it’s extra-sharp cheddar and provolone]
    Add two slices of bacon [unless, like me, you already put bacon in the meatloaf when you made it]

  4. Thanks for sharing that Reine! I especially love the line that says: "the dish should have a flower pattern on the outside.":)

    Edith, as long as the veggies are cut fine, it works. I do the onions and carrots in the food processor but the peppers by hand.

    Oh Joan, oh rapture!!

  5. Ahhhh, meatloaf! A true comfort food. Here's my favorite healthy meatloaf recipe. I can't tell my husband what's in it or he'd never eat it. LOL

    Mushroom Herb Mini Meatloaves

    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 medium onion, diced
    1 cup finely chopped mushrooms (about half of an 8 ounce package)
    2 garlic cloves, minced
    ½ teaspoon kosher salt
    ½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
    ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
    2 tablespoons flax seeds
    ¼ cup chopped walnuts
    ¼ cup chopped flat leaf parsley
    1 pound lean veal or turkey
    1 egg, lightly beaten
    2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

    Heat oil over medium high heat and sauté onions, garlic, and mushroom until vegetables are softened and no liquid remains, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to large bowl.

    Stir in salt, pepper, thyme, flax seed, walnuts, and parsley and set aside to cool to room temperature, about 10 to 12 minutes. Add ground turkey and egg, mixing gently but thoroughly until well combined. Transfer to lightly greased muffin tins, dividing mixture into six of the cups. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Bake until cooked through, 30 to 40 minutes.

    Serves 4 to 6
    Per single loaf: 220 calories, 14 grams fat , 6 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams fiber, 19 grams protein

    I make it as one meatloaf, too. I form the mixture into a loaf shape on top of a broiler pan rather than in a loaf pan to eliminate a lot of the grease.

    BTW, I've been away for a week and I've missed my daily JRW fix. But now I get to catch up all at once.

  6. Mmmm, memories of meatloaf. One of things (along with shrimp and scallops) I miss as a vegetarian.

  7. I haven't made meatloaf for years, mostly because we cut way back on meat. This sounds delicious, but RITZ CRACKERS -- really? And where can I get Bone-suckin Barbecue sauce??

    (Anyone ever make that fake "apple pie" recipe with Ritz Crackers?)

    And Lucy, where's your recipe for Skate? :p

  8. Lipton's Onion Soup Mix! Lipton's Onion Soup Mix! Just like mom used to make. Can improve (virtually) any recipe! #DontMessWithMom :)

  9. LOVE Meatloaf! And will happily ue these recipes. We can have a cook-off!

    And yes,THANK YOU! I am having a very exciting week with THE OTHER WOMAN--thank you so much for supporting me and Lucy. It makes such a huge's just beyond words! Thank you!


  10. ...IS there a turkey and quinoa version of this? ;-)

  11. Marianne in Maine--definitely will have to try your version!

    Hallie, the Ritz crackers give it a little sweet taste. That part of the recipe came from some friends of my dad...

    Bone Suckin' Sauce--my new cooking obsession. Look it up on

    I'll work on the skate recipe. Ro, I bet there is one for turkey and quinoa, but I haven't made it. or looked for it:)

  12. Lucy, Hey you! Congratulations on a very successful launch week - Yay!!

    oh yum - I do love meatloaf. I haven't moved beyond old fashioned meals like this I'm a little embarrassed to admit.

    I can't make a meatloaf if I don't have some Lipton's onion soup mix on hand - just can't do it. I have an addition to the above recipes. Mozzarella Cheese. After I miss up my meatloaf I press it flat and place several slices of mozzarealla on top. Then I roll the meatloaf up jellyroll style. I love that cheese surprise when cutting into a juicy meatloaf. I top mine close to the end of cooking time with a small can of tomato sauce in which I've stirred in 2 Tbsps. of vinegar and 2 Tbsps. of brown sugar.

    Now I'm craving meat loaf!

  13. It's actually cool enough since yesterday to contemplate cooking something in the oven, for the first time in three months. Now, hmmm, which recipe to try....

  14. Well, this settles it-I am definitely having meat loaf for dinner! Later today I will do my grocery shopping and I'll pick up whatever ingredients I'm out of.

    I don't know exactly how to share my recipe because it's all in my head and I never measure anything! I will try: I use around a pound of ground turkey, flavored bread crumbs (I shake it into the bowl until it looks like enough), an egg, garlic powder, parsley flakes, and either worcestershire sauce or teriyaki sauce, depending on which one I have. I form it into a loaf and bake it in either a loaf pan or an 8x8 baking pan, depending on my mood. I usually bake it at 400 degrees for around an hour and fifteen minutes, until the top is nicely browned. Last month my sister and my niece visited for a few days and I made this. They gobbled it up. My sister had watched me making it and when she got home she made it for the rest of her family. It's their new favorite meat loaf recipe.

    It MUST be served with mashed potatoes and brown gravy!

  15. Deb, yours sounds delish too!

    And Kaye, cheese surprise--one can never go wrong with cheese:)

    My mother used to do the white bread and milk too, along with a can of Campbell's alphabet soup....

  16. Kaye:
    Cheese in meatloaf is absolutely the best. Here’s my go-to recipe when we have meatloaf:

    Cook five or six slices of bacon until crisp; remove from pan, drain on paper towel. Crumble when cool.
    [Try maple bacon . . . yum!]

    Mix together
    Two pounds meatloaf mix [one pound beef; one half pound pork; one half pound veal] or all beef if you prefer
    One onion, chopped fine
    Two eggs, slightly beaten
    One cup fine bread crumbs
    One half cup [or to taste] shredded cheese [choose your type; we like extra sharp cheddar]
    The crumbled bacon you cooked earlier
    One half cup dry red burgundy [or use barbeque sauce if you don’t like to cook with wine]
    Half a cup fresh parsley, chopped fine
    One tablespoon fresh basil, chopped fine
    Freshly ground salt to taste [we use Himalayan Pink Salt or Sea Salt]
    Freshly ground black pepper to taste

    Shape into a loaf and cook on broiler pan or cookie sheet at 350 degrees for about an hour

    Just before the meat loaf is done, make the gravy;

    Drain all but two tablespoons of the bacon drippings; add two tablespoons of flour;
    cook, stirring constantly, for two minutes

    Slowly add one cup of milk and cook, stirring constantly, until gravy thickens [add more milk if it is too thick]

    Season to taste with freshly ground white pepper.

  17. Yummm, these all sound good and I love leftover meatloaf - sands are great.
    have never tried it fried for a sand, but will do that next time, sounds great.

  18. Oh boy, yummmm is right. Now we're into bacon/milk gravy. that sounds like what I used to eat in my Tennessee days....

  19. Rosemary:
    Here is a Turkey and Quinoa Meatloaf recipe . . . from . . . I’ve never tried it, but it got good reviews on the Allrecipe site:

    Turkey and Quinoa Meatloaf

    1/4 cup quinoa
    1/2 cup water
    1 teaspoon olive oil
    1 small onion, chopped
    1 large clove garlic, chopped
    1 (20 ounce) package ground turkey
    1 tablespoon tomato paste
    1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce
    2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
    1 egg
    1 1/2 teaspoons salt
    1 teaspoon ground black pepper
    2 tablespoons brown sugar
    2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
    1 teaspoon water

    Bring the quinoa and water to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is tender, and the water has been absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes. Set aside to cool.

    Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

    Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in the onion; cook and stir until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute; remove from heat to cool.

    Stir the turkey, cooked quinoa, onions, tomato paste, hot sauce, 2 tablespoons Worcestershire, egg, salt, and pepper in a large bowl until well combined. The mixture will be very moist. Shape into a loaf on a foil lined baking sheet. Combine the brown sugar, 2 teaspoons Worcestershire, and 1 teaspoon water in a small bowl. Rub the paste over the top of the meatloaf.

    Bake in the preheated oven until no longer pink in the center, about 50 minutes. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read at least 160 degrees F (70 degrees C). Let the meatloaf cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

  20. Okay, cue the "occult" music. All morning I was thinking about meatloaf, thinking what a great dinner it would be tonight--but most recipes have crumbs, and I can't eat wheat. And now I have come upon this treasure trove of recipes. What a fine coincidence...or is it something more? Woooooo.

  21. Joan, ha ha too funny! we are all going to have to try the turkey quinoa loaf now, no matter what Hayley's mom says:)

    Terry, sometimes the universe is right there when you need it! Though we are not having meat loaf tonight. The chicken pot pie with cornbread crust is in the oven as we speak...

  22. Lucy:
    Sorry . . . I just couldn't resist! [Maybe Hayley's mom will have to try it sometime!] I loved the book! :)

  23. My meal is almost ready to eat,the meatloaf is done, the salad is made; just waiting for the potatoes to be done enough so I can mash them. Thank you, Reds, for the meal suggestion!

    When I was puttings things together earlier,I remembered that sometimes I put in leftover cooked rice if I have any. (None today.)I used to finely mince some onion and throw it in but have not felt much in the mood to add it in recent months. That's one thing I like about meat loaf: it is so easy to modify if you get tired of it one way!

  24. The rice sounds good Deb! And thank you Joan:).

    See you all tomorrow!