National Meatloaf Appreciation Day, October 18th

Wow, what a busy weekend! We’re just now recovering from a few days of running and running, and hope things are a more even keel, at least for the next few days. 

Over on Serious Eats the gang has decided October 18th, this-coming Thursday, will be National Meatloaf Appreciation Day:

Meatloaf lends itself to improvisation while being comforting, and unites tradition and innovation. Maybe your recipe is your grandmother’s or maybe you make it up as you go along. It ain’t always pretty, but it’s just the thing for satisfying your soul, true sweater-weather food, and a home-cooked standard.

“It ain’t always pretty” … see, that’s exactly where the writer has it right. And that’s unfortunate. So many school and hospital cafeterias, so many greasy spoons, so many moms who just want to clean out the fridge, so many people staring at slices of mystery meat asking, “Why?” … so much meatloaf is downright nasty that a National Meatloaf Appreciation Day is a necessity for those meatloafs that are downright good.

My mom’s meatloaf has always been downright good!

Mom’s Dill-Pickle-Sauced Meatloaf is the kind of meatloaf that, by design, can never turn into hardtack. In fact, if you screw it up somehow it’s more likely to fall apart from too much good juices than not enough. Later on, after refrigeration, a sandwich made with this meatloaf that’s been chilled will still be so flippin’ tender you’ll never knock your dentures out of alignment. The flavor is beautifully sweet with the minor savory touch of the the dill pickle coming through in every wonderful bite.

For this batch I used fresh meatloaf mixture from Lee Williams House of Meats in Point Place, Ohio. If you want to lean-it-up a bit, you could ask them for a combination of ground buffalo and ground turkey instead of beef and pork. There’s no need to add fats if you do this … the recipe is juicy enough as it is, and this will cook up just fine.

This is a fun meatloaf to make as it’s mixed lightly and there’s minimal chopping to do. This is the kind of meatloaf you can make with kids, and as it tastes the way it does, they’ll actually eat it afterward. Until yesterday, I hadn’t had this in probably 15 years. When mom finally sent me the recipe last week after a couple years of my asking for it she said it’s been probably 10 years since she’s made it herself. That’s a real shame. In my house, this particular tradition will now return, and this meatloaf will become a staple once more.

Do right by your meatloaf, or your mother’s meatloaf. This Thursday, on National Meatloaf Appreciation Day, make meatloaf for dinner. Learn to appreciate it all over again, especially when it’s done right.

This meatloaf is simple, looks great, and as we found yesterday, when teenage guys get wind of the great smell coming out of the oven, they want some!

Dill-Pickle-Sauced Meatloaf
Recipe courtesy Joyce Liske
Serves 6

Meatloaf
1-1/2 lbs meatloaf mixture (50% ground beef/50% ground pork)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup soft bread crumbs (about 1 fresh slice)
1/2 cup bottled dill pickle juice
1 egg
1-1/2 tsp Kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper

Sauce
1/2 cup chopped dill pickle
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup water
2 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F. For the loaf, lightly mix the meatloaf mixture with the chopped onion, bread crumbs, dill pickle juice, egg, and salt and pepper until well-blended. Shape into a loaf in a loaf pan, making sure to leave room around the sides of the loaf.

For the sauce, combine the chopped dill pickle, ketchup, water, sugar and Worcestershire sauce. Pour the sauce over the loaf.

Bake uncovered in the 350 degree F oven 40 minutes, basting with the sauce at the 20- and 40-minute marks. Continue baking another 35 minutes or until richly-glazed.

3 Comments

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  1. Even from a vegetarian perspective, this is beautiful—love the name & sauce idea! We use to have “meatloaf” on the hospital menu–so many complaints (a carpenter called it “pressed board”)–now replaced with salisbury steak which is, well, still hospital food 🙁

  2. Wow, what a beast of a loaf! I, too, love the pickle sauce idea. The glaze looks perfect! And speaking to JEP, as a vegetarian, check out my take, a “nutloaf” made with butternut squash, ricotta and ginger (and nuts of course). Unfortunately I posted too late for inclusion on National Appreciation Day, but my friends sure appreciated it!

  3. Thanks Nora! I just realized your Autumn Nutloaf would probably taste excellent topped with my mom’s pickle sauce. Interesting thought … I might have to do that sometime. 🙂

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