The perfect meatloaf recipe; does that exist? Meatloaf lovers always seem to have strong opinions about what makes a great meatloaf. So, I’m going to share the best meatloaf I have ever had; that probably sounds like bragging, but it’s true! I’ll toot my own horn here!
As much as I love this meatloaf, I don’t get to make it as often as I like. The reason for that, is most of my personal chef clients are not terribly interested in comfort food; they hired a personal chef to make interesting, flavorful foods of all different varieties. Meatloaf is not usually up their alley!
However, when I am cooking for one of my senior clients, it seems more often than not, they want familiar classic dishes they have had all their lives. (That’s a pretty broad generalization; but it’s true 9 times out of 10!)
Undeniably, one of the highlights of my 16 year career is cooking for seniors. Because of this, over the years, I have often though of specializing in being a personal chef for seniors and retirees.
Although most of my business for my in-home cooking service are busy professionals and families, over the years, I have been so lucky to be able to cook for many seniors as well!
Cooking for seniors is such a rewarding experience for me. For instance, they sit in the kitchen with me, or nearby, as I cook. We visit and talk about food, family, and their history. It’s so interesting to get to know them, and it has been an honor to become friends with many of them.
These days, during the pandemic, I make time for us to see each other and catch up on their decks or in their yards from several feet away.
In my experience, I have found that seniors usually like a phone call before their cooking day; not an email! Consequently, I always allow plenty of time, especially now, during Covid-19, for us to chat and catch up on the phone. Because of this, and many other reasons, this aspect of cooking for the older generation may not be for everyone. I really enjoy it; I make time for them and I slow down to listen to them.
Whenever one of my senior clients off to share their old recipes with me, that they made for their kids years ago, it’s such an honor. Undeniably, one of the best compliments I’ve ever received was when the grown daughter of one of my clients said that the meatloaf recipe she shared with me tasted just like it did when her mom made it 50 years ago!
Here’s an example: a client’s grown son told me that my cooking service has allowed his mom to remain in her home and stay independent. He doesn’t worry about her trying to cook her meals. Quite often, she asks me to make a big dish, a big lasagna or chicken pot pie, and she has her 3 grown grandchildren over for dinner.
Having a personal chef turns out to be a time-saver for the children of seniors, and I really strive to improve their quality of life in any way that I can.
The point is, my cooking days with that I have with seniors are always the best part of my week!
Indeed, this is my all time favorite meatloaf recipe. (Despite it being much different than the one my client shared with me years ago. For example, hers included Wheaties, and green pepper. She is gone now, but I still think of her when I make meatloaf.)
Here is how to make it:
Classic Meatloaf Recipe
Mirepoix (onion, celery, carrot) (available at Trader Joe’s, and other grocers; or chop your own)
Chopped Green Pepper
Ground Beef/Veal/Pork. (local meat markets probably have a “meatloaf mix” with this blend.)
Fresh Breadcrumbs, crusts removed
Organic Ketchup (Trader Joe’s ketchup is very good. Don’t use anything with artificial sweeteners, or HFCS.)
Then, saute the mirepoix and green pepper (I usually hate green pepper, but here it works), in BUTTER, with sea salt, until very soft, maybe 10 minutes. Then add TOMATO PASTE, let that cook 5 minutes or so, until the raw tomato taste is gone. The next step is: I add just a little FISH SAUCE. (If that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone! But fish sauce is a great way to add umami!) Anyway, I let that cool. Add fresh breadcrumbs, which I have soaked in milk, just enough to moisten the breadcrumbs. Next is the BEEF/PORK/VEAL.
After that, add the eggs, mix it all up, form into a loaf and top generously with ketchup. Bake until an internal thermometer reads 165 degrees.