Hello, Miss Chicken.
I have been more than remiss in not getting back to you until now about something you asked after reading my column about the passing of a good friend, John Banks. I mentioned he was a fan of meatloaf and how much he liked mine when I made in for him during one of his visits to my house.
Jean Park, aka Miss Chicken, is a fan of the Index-Journal and asked me for the recipe for my meatloaf.
Here’s what she wrote: “Joseph, I have never made a good meat loaf in my life. I am 87. Please HELP me. Tell me what you do. Do you have a recipe or are you one of these throw it together with a little of this and a little of that type cooks?” - Jean Park
I have to admit, I am a little of this and a little of that type cook.
That said, I usually start with a recipe or some knowledge of a recipe from my mother or any other family member who likes to cook. More than a few years ago I shared a recipe for Polish lasagna from my cousin, who just happens not to be Polish. It was a complicated recipe and the end result was oh so good.
As far as meatloaf, I started with a recipe from my mom. It was simple and basic and it never disappointed my dad or me when I was growing up. My mom had a knack with ground beef. Not only did she make killer meatloaf, she was an expert at making cabbage rolls and stuffed peppers.
Having two boys who have ravenous appetites, meatloaf always has been a hit. But because of the amount of food needed for dinner, I had to adjust and adapt as I started to make meatloaf. The ground beef now is more than four pounds. I can’t remember how much my mom would make, but I know it wasn’t that much.
I even made meatloaf so I could tell Jean what the process was. Here’s the best recipe for my meatloaf that I can share. I start with a big package of ground beef. With it being a big package, I crack in two eggs and sprinkle in onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, salt, pepper and parsley to taste. (I know you’re shouldn’t eat raw ground beef, but my mom did every time she made meatloaf. I’m not telling anyone to do that for health concerns.) I add bread crumbs. I mix that all together until everything is incorporated. I try to make sure the loaf doesn’t crack or look like it will fall part. If it does, I add more bread crumbs. Once I’m happy with the loaf, I put it in a roasting pan.
Into the roasting pan I add one large chopped onion, several ribs of chopped celery and at least five or six chopped carrots. I quarter about six or seven small potatoes and add them to the pan.

I add two large cans of tomato soup to the bowl I mixed the meatloaf in and one can of water, making sure to get whatever might be left on the sides of the bowl into liquid. I then add the liquid to the roasting pan. I make sure the liquid covers more than half the meatloaf. If needed, I add more water. You don’t want too much water because you don’t want to negate the tomato soup.
I put the top on the pan and place it in a 400-degree oven. I’ve played around with the temperature and find this works well. I usually set the timer for an hour. During the cooking, I will ladle some juice on top of the meatloaf. I’ll do this about five or six times. After an hour I’ll poke the meatloaf with a knife to make sure it’s done on the inside. If just juice is coming from where I poked. I’ll take the cover off the pan and cook it maybe another 10-15 minutes.
When it’s done, I’ll take it out and let it rest so when I cut slices, they don’t fall apart.
I serve it with the vegetables from the pan and ladle juice on top of everything. Also, rye bread is a good accompaniment for the meal. I try to make sure I take a loaf of rye bread my dad has brought down from New Jersey out of the freezer when I make meatloaf. The rye bread works great when sopping up the juice on the dish.
For a smaller meatloaf, I would just cut back on everything and adjust.
I know it’s not an exact and measured recipe, but I don’t really have one these days. I hope it helps and whatever you make you find to your liking.

Sitarz can be reached at 864-943-2529 or via email at jsitarz@indexjournal.com. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper’s opinion.