Irma Rombauer’s Original Meat Loaf and Variations

Island Epicure


Now  that our new year 2019 has begun, you maybe expecting some new, exotic recipes to appear in this column. But no. I give you some thrifty recipes from the first edition of Joy of Cooking.  Mrs. Rombauer found herself suddenly widowed, financially broke, and with three children to feed. All she knew how to do was to cook, keep house,  and raise kids.

A Mrs. Lang of the social upper crust brought out a recipe book of gourmet recipes in 1930. It sold 5000 copies.   That gave Irma Rombauer an idea. Many more people in that year following the stock market crash of 1929 needed thrifty inexpensive recipes, and ways to serve leftovers disguised as new dishes.  So she gathered up all her notes, which only listed ingredients, added directions, and  wrote her cookbook.  Her first editions of Joy of Cooking contained several recipes for meat loaves. The newer editions contain none.

About the time you see this column, you will probably be getting your credit card bill.  You may be asking yourself, “What was I thinking when I spent all that money in December? How are we going to eat this month? Can we get our credit card debt paid off before June?”
I give you meat loaves from the first edition of Joy of Cooking. Grandson James Hamaker gave me a facsimile of that original cookbook.

Beef Loaf #l
Serves 4 to 6

1 pound lean ground beef
1 egg
2 Tablespoons chopped parsley
1 Tablespoon butter
1 Tablespoon bread crumbs
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
½ teaspoon onion juice (or 1 Tablespoon minced onion)

Combine all ingredients. Roll into a loaf. Wrap in waxed paper. Bake at 450 degrees for 1 hour,
Basting every 5 minutes with beef stock. Make gravy with the drippings.
Variation No, 1:  Grind 1 carrot in a food processor and mix with the above ingredients
Variation No. 2:  Finely chop 1 green pepper and add to  original ingredients,
Variation No. 3:  Chop and add 4 or 5 mushrooms to original ingredients.
Each of these variations adds at least one serving to the recipe. Instead of wrapping the meat loaf in waxed paper, put it in a small casserole and top it with ketchup or tomato sauce, then bake it