Let me start by saying that Grams is not a huge fan of meatloaf. As far as I can remember my Mom didn't ever make meatloaf. If she did it was probably so horrible that I've blocked it from my memory. The only meatloaf I remember eating as a kid was that 1960's public-school cafeteria concoction of mystery meat and filler that was topped with a glob of cooked ketchup, which really grossed me out.
When Grams was a young bride, Grandad reported that he loved meatloaf and asked me to make some for him. (This was before we reached the unspoken agreement that it was better for Grandad to cook than for Grams to keep producing horrible disasters in the kitchen.) So I got out my trusty-dusty Betty Crocker Cookbook (circa 1970) and whipped up a batch of said meatloaf, as requested.
Needless to say, Grandad had an entirely different concept of meatloaf. You see Grandad went to Catholic schools where meatloaf was not a mass-produced mystery meat. In his mind meatloaf was a savory recipe which included a delicious brown gravy that was produced by "the Nuns." So when I served up my version of meatloaf, Grandad had a temporary lapse of sanity and said something like "This is not the way 'the Nuns' made it." As a matter of fact this may have been the very day Grams decided that cooking should be Grandad's realm.
About a year ago we were at a funeral for one of our dear friends who was a priest and Grandad pointed to a very elderly Nun in the crowd and said, "That's one of 'the Nuns' who used to make the meatloaf." I had to restrain myself during the funeral from jumping over a couple of pews and begging for the recipe. Alas, I was unable to find her in the crowd afterward.
Since I went back to cooking, I've experimented with a couple of meatloaf recipes. What I've discovered is that if I make the meatloaf, it doesn't have that mysterious quality that I found so distasteful.
Grams made this recipe for the first time last night for dinner. It's been in my recipe file for quite a long time. I'm not sure where I got it, but it's very tasty and I highly recommend it. I made a couple of changes, the original recipe called for Panko instead of oatmeal and I use extra-lean ground beef instead of ground chuck. Even Grandad approved and there was no mention of "the Nuns."
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Nonstick cooking spray
2 Tablespoons honey mustard
2 Tablespoons ketchup
1 pound extra-lean ground beef
1 large egg, lightly beaten
½ cup oatmeal (processed finely in food processer)
1 cup shredded white cheddar (about 4 ounces)
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 pound red new potatoes, scrubbed and quartered
Preheat oven to 450 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. In a small bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons mustard and ketchup.
In a medium bowl, combine beef, egg, panko, ½ cup cheddar, ½ teaspoon salt, and teaspoon pepper. Form into four 2-by-4-inch loaves; place on baking sheet. Pour mustard mixture over meatloaves. On another rimmed baking sheet, toss potatoes with 1 tablespoon oil; season with salt and pepper.
Start with meatloaves on upper rack of oven and potatoes on lower rack. Bake 15 minutes, top the meatloaves with the remaining cheese, then switch the positions of the pans and bake another 10-15 minutes. Remove meatloaves from oven and test potatoes. If they're not done to your liking, you may need to bake the potatoes a few minutes longer.