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July 22, 2008

Bill Blass meat loaf

Filed under: American Food,Celebrity,Wine — Mr. Henry @ 8:05 am

Last week Aunt Bev came barreling out of the Mountain West to help nurse Mrs. Henry and do chores with her characteristic house-elf perseverance. Now the fridge is spotless inside and out. Thanks to her deft work with a toothpick, little crevices in the door panel no longer harbor black gunk. (Who knew?)

Aunt Bev would rather clean house from top to bottom, however, than cook dinner. She is fully capable of throwing dinner together. She does it quite regularly back home. But she does not enjoy it. For her, cooking will always be drudgery.

Her sister, Mrs. Henry, is exactly the opposite. She likes nothing more than to plunge her hands in flour up to the elbows. When renovating the kitchen she designed a long, unbroken stretch of countertop so that baking would never again create congestion.

When she cooks, she leaves the kitchen a wreck. But each dish arrives perfectly hot and perfectly done at the same time. It’s a miracle of theatrical timing performed without rehearsal or stage fright.

Although Betsy hates to cook, she baked a pumpkin spice bread for Mrs. Henry’s convalescence that became the top treat of the week. If you hate to cook, it’s practical to have one whiz-bang recipe to prepare in a pinch.

When the temperature outside is in the middle 90’s, what should you fix for dinner? You want to make a dish that’s good for leftovers but you don’t want to fire the oven more than absolutely necessary.


Aunt Bev’s choice, her whiz-bang recipe, is the Bill Blass meat loaf. (Did you realize that High Wasp society considers the humble, old-fashioned meat loaf to be the ultimate in chic? At Connecticut country estate weekend parties it’s positively revered as a holy relic.)

Always a tinkerer with recipes, Mr. Henry added rolled oats in place of bread crumbs, added an extra egg, and left out the butter altogether except to grease the pan. To accompany he chose mashed potatoes, a green vegetable, and a pinot noir.

Back in the last century Mr. Henry had the great pleasure of making Bill Blass’s acquaintance. Even in a business negotiation which normally reveals the worst aspects of someone’s personality, Mr. Blass was an authentic gentleman – witty, charming and forthright.

Here is the recipe. In changing those few details, Mr. Henry hopes he has Bill’s blessing.


  1. Thanks for the recipe, Mr. Henry! I’ll definitely be trying it out…with my own slight modifications because that’s just the sort of cook I am.

    Mr. Twistie adores meatloaf above nearly all things. This one sounds like it will have him humming Paradise by the Dashboard Light in no time!

    Comment by Twistie — July 22, 2008 @ 10:56 am

  2. I have my own recipe for meatloaf that is similar to this one, using oats instead of bread crumbs as well.

    What I do, though, is cook them individually in my trusty silicone muffin pan, glazing them with the sauce (brown sugar, dijon, and ketchup) beforehand. This makes for a nicer presentation, and easier to eat portions.

    Comment by Glinda — July 22, 2008 @ 5:22 pm

  3. Meat loaf holds no charm for me–unless it’s leftover, cold and sliced thin –in which case I pretend it’s a very rustic pate. But I love the description of Mrs. Henry’s meal prep prowess and the tale of meeting Mr. Blass.

    Comment by Casey — July 23, 2008 @ 8:53 am

  4. I am a trifle confused by Mr. Henry’s story. I have grasped that Aunt Bev is Mrs. Henry’s sister (yay for the sisters who help when one is sick! La BellaDonna is blessed with one such herself); I have even grasped that Aunt Bev does not like to cook. Am I to understand that “Betsy” is also Aunt Bev? I ask only for the clarification; although usually “Bev” is short for “Beverly”, life is full of the unusual, and there is no reason why it cannot be short for “Betsy” (even though “Betsy” is often short for “Elizabeth”).

    I fully grasp “pumpkin bread”, however, and wish I were, because I love the pumpkin bread! I am also very fond of meatloaf – that is to say, my mother’s meatloaf, and my own, which is always made with oatmeal, and never with breadcrumbs – or butter! One’s own childhood experience sets the bar for “normal”, and the first time I had someone else’s meatloaf, I was aghast (quietly, and after eating my meal and thanking my friend’s mother for it – I was raised to be mannerly). Made with breadcrumbs, it was positively leaden. Perhaps it was made with butter as well; I’m happy I didn’t know. In addition to being delicious, light and flavourful, meatloaf made with oatmeal holds together superbly the next day, when it is being sliced thin, for its next incarnation – as sandwiches, between slices of ACME white bread (which I would never eat otherwise), seasoned with Heinz ketchup.

    And I would mention that the nice folks at Quaker Oats very thoughtfully publish their meatloaf recipe on the back of their oatmeal cannisters, together with their recipe for oatmeal cookies. (And now I will have to try to find my own recipe variant for the cookies, which was cakier and much less sweet, and had the distinction of being snitched by humans, a Doberman, and two cats, all on the same Saturday.)

    Comment by La BellaDonna — July 24, 2008 @ 10:16 am

  5. So sorry for the confusion, La BellaDonna. Sometimes Mr. Henry neglects connective explanations. He likes to leap around, idea-wise. That’s the fun of a blog, no?

    Betsy is Besty, and Bev is Bev. They are different persons who share a disinclination to cook.

    Oatmeal with meat is a pairing also found in haggis. Could that be one origin of the modern meatloaf?

    Yes, Casey, like you the Henry household really only bothers to cook the meatloaf for the rich experience of the leftover meatloaf sandwich – with gobs of ketchup.

    Comment by Mr. Henry — July 24, 2008 @ 10:52 am

  6. Give Ms. Henry my best wishes for a speedy recovery. My mother just had her knees replaced and it irked her to no end to be immoble. I think that bothered her more than the pain.

    Comment by Jennie — July 26, 2008 @ 9:21 pm

  7. Meat loaf has always been one of my favorite foods and there are so many good recipes for it! I’ll definitely give this one a try. I must put in a plug for my favorite meat loaf recipe of all, however, and the one that has been my default recipe for years. It’s Paul Prudhomme’s Cajun meatloaf. It’s rather time consuming but is well worth the effort. I wish I had some right now but I try my best to leave the oven off from June – mid-September.

    Comment by angelhair — August 4, 2008 @ 9:57 am

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