Anxious times call for simple home-cooking with a big dollop of comfort.
I had my first taste of meatloaf in the third grade at a friend’s house in the apartment block we lived in in Queens, NY. Having grown up until then on mostly Latin-Caribbean food — except for pizza and bagels and Thanksgiving turkey; I did say Queens, NY, didn’t I? — meatloaf was a revelation to me. I ran upstairs in excitement and demanded that it become a regular on our table, and it did, albeit with different seasonings and sauces.
Meatloaf immediately became the embodiment and epitome of American food in my eight-year-old head and it still is. For those of you who think of Puerto Rican, or Asian, or Italian food as ethnic, I have news for you. Your food is ethnic too! Meatloaf, green beans, and mashed potatoes are their own form of American flag, sitting plumply and solidly on the blue plate special. And meatloaf, with its incredible adaptability, can be adapted and adjusted to any American table, no matter where your ancestors came from.
At this time of national grief, it seems the right time for meatloaf. Simple, stodgy, reliable, comforting, resilient, inclusive. It makes sense to gather around the table together around one right now.
Here is a very simple version that I hope will make you feel better.
1 lb. ground beef (up to ¼ lbs could be ground pork)
¼ onion, peeled and grated
1 Tbs garlic, peeled and minced
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp oregano dry or 1 Tbs fresh
1 Tbs Adobo powder
2 Tbs ketchup (1 for meat, 1 for loaf pan)
½ Cup breadcrumbs (if using seasoned, adjust other seasonings accordingly)
¼ Cup ketchup
2 tsp Asian-style marinade/Worcestershire sauce/low sodium soy sauce
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp honey
Preheat oven to 325˚F.
In a large bowl, combine all the meat, meatloaf seasonings (reserving 1 Tbs ketchup) and breadcrumbs. Add the whole egg and mix just enough to combine well, but don’t squeeze the meat. Use the second Tbs of ketchup to grease a 9”x5” loaf pan, then place seasoned meat into pan and spread evenly.
Place in oven. Cook for ten minutes while you make the glaze. In a small bowl, combine all the glaze ingredients (adding a pinch of cayenne pepper if you like) until smooth.
After the meat has been cooking ten minutes or so, spread it with the glaze using a brush or spoon. Cook meatloaf for an addition 40-45 minutes (glass pans will require the longer time) or until the center registers 155˚F on a meat thermometer.
Slice and serve with potatoes and roasted veggies or on sandwiches.