Top | Main Dishes

Meat Loaf

(recipe, Caroline Cummins)

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If you think meat loaf is necessarily a dry slab of cardboard, think again. This recipe comes from Anya Fernald, the founder of the food-activist nonprofit Live Culture. It's her favorite recipe for this classic diner dish.


  1. 3 lb. ground beef (see Note)
  2. 4 pieces old bread (about 1 cup bread crumbs)
  3. ½ cup water
  4. 1 cup soffritto (see Note)
  5. 2 to 3 Tbsp. herbes de Provence
  6. 2 eggs
  7. 1 Tbsp. salt
  8. 1 tsp. pepper


  1. Let the ground beef come to room temperature (if frozen, you'll need to let it sit out for 24 hours).
  2. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
  3. Grind the bread into powder, then add the water, soffritto, and herbes de Provence. Add the bread mixture to the beef, then add the eggs, salt, and pepper.
  4. Form the mixture into a long log, about the length of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Place the log in the the pan, then cut a slit down the top, like for a loaf of bread.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Lower the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for another 20 minutes or so, until the internal temperature on an instant-read thermometer has reached at least 120 degrees.
  6. Serve in slices, with gravy and mashed potatoes or with ketchup and pickles. Add big slices of fresh tomatoes, if available.


If your ground beef is not at least 35 percent fat (a typical fat percentage for ground beef if you've bought a quarter-cow), add enough ground pancetta or bacon to bring the fat content up sufficiently. Soffritto is nothing more than lightly sautéed diced carrots, celery, and onion. You can make a batch of it ahead of time and freeze it in cubes, then pop a few out for a dish as a flavor base.