A designer's meatloaf can be every bit as much a comfort

  • Bill Blass dresses up his classic meatloaf with sour cream, chopped onions and celery and marjoram, parsley and thyme.

    Bill Blass dresses up his classic meatloaf with sour cream, chopped onions and celery and marjoram, parsley and thyme. Courtesy of Don Mauer

Updated 1/21/2021 10:35 AM

Designer meatloaf?

For many, meatloaf has long been a classic comfort food, right behind macaroni and cheese. These days, comfort food can be exactly that, a true comfort. I wanted to make meatloaf for its comforting psychological warmth.


Due to the pandemic, I had extended kitchen time available, and I didn't want to make the same-old-same-old meatloaf. That's why I searched for "best meatloaf recipes," and Google told me there were 16.4 million possibilities: too many.

Next, I headed to a trusted but less intimidating source: The New York Times. I found the American fashion designer Bill Blass's meatloaf recipe as it was published in Molly O'Neill's 1992 "New York Cookbook: From Pelham Bay to Park Avenue, Firehouses to Four-Star Restaurants."

About all the recipes O'Neill shared in her cookbook, she is quoted as saying that she: "...tried to tease the extraordinary from the mundane."

The story shared on The New York Times website about this recipe surprised me. In jest, Bill Blass stated that: 'My claim to immortality will be my meatloaf.'

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Blass used a half-cup of soft breadcrumbs to strengthen his meatloaf, which would not work for my new low-carb path. Based on my early experiments with my own meatloaf, I decided that breadcrumbs can be omitted, and the meatloaf would still hold together, as well as slice well.

What I liked about Blass's meatloaf that I didn't do with my own was sauté chopped celery and onions together. Blass used butter for sautéing. To keep the flavor up, I used beef tallow from all grass-fed beef. Blass used sour cream in his mix, which was a unique addition. He also used a single egg (many meatloaf recipes use 2 eggs) and seasoned his mixture with dried thyme, marjoram, fresh parsley, and Worcestershire sauce. Tired of sending unused and wilted fresh parsley to my backyard compost, I went with dried parsley.

Finally, as many do, Blass topped his meatloaf with bacon, a classic. I decided to break from that and top my version with no-sugar-added ketchup. Yes, ketchup may be a mundane topping; it's still timeless.

While my sautéed onions and celery cooled, I whisked the sour cream, egg, Worcestershire sauce and dried seasonings together in a large bowl with the cooled vegetables. I washed my hands well and so that it was easier to blend them; I then pulled the ground meats apart into pieces and added them to the bowl. Since my hands were already clean, and I dug into the mixture and carefully blended everything. I pressed the mixture into a standard loaf pan, spread my ketchup over the top, and transferred it to my oven.


It took longer than usual, 80 minutes before my meatloaf registered 155 degrees (it will rise another 5 degrees as it sits).

I placed my not-quite-Blass's meatloaf on a platter and cut the first slice. Perfect. It tasted exactly like the comfort food for which I had hoped.

Yes, the hassle-factor was a little higher than my usual meatloaf, but it turned out to be well worth it. Give it a try.

• Don Mauer welcomes questions, comments and recipe makeover requests. Write to him at don@ theleanwizard.com.

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