Blue Plate Special

From the early 1900s until the 1970s when they were superseded by fast food restaurants, American diners were inexpensive eating venues for the working man and their families.  Open 24 hours a day, they catered to men and women going to and coming from work on any shift who could stop in for a quick coffee with danish or a home style familiar meal.  The diners were also a place you could take the whole family for a Friday night meal and reward the “little woman” with a break from the nightly cooking and washing up.

My husband, whose family frequented these diners as a matter of course when looking for a meal out, numbers these meals as some of the most enjoyable of his childhood.  In fact, although the true diner experience no longer exists, he just can’t let it go and stares at them longingly as we travel down our rural roads, pretending not to see the sneer on my face 😀  At that time, the food was truly home made and almost identical to that that his mother made; plain American fare featuring meatloaf, pot roast with gravy and roasted chicken.  He also loved the individual, mini  jukeboxes at each table.

Making meatloaf is easy and you can choose almost any ground meat or a mixture of ground meats to make it.  Having said that, I was busy in the morning, out of the house and came home with no enthusiasm to cook at all.  Disrespecting the veal, I made the sloppiest, “I can’t be bothered” meatloaf in my life!

I negligently chopped the vegetables, mixed in a cup of the leftover sauce from the lamb shank, coated the bottom of the roasting pan with the same, then barely formed the meat into a loaf and jammed it into the pan.

However, unless you overcook a meatloaf or neglect to add some liquid to the mixture, you can’t ruin it.

Unlike the diner meatloaf, then and now, the one I make requires no globs of ketchup to help it slide down 😉

Veal Meatloaf

1 1/2 lb ground veal

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1/2 bell pepper, chopped

1/2 onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 egg

1/3 cup cracker crumbs

3 cups tomato sauce

Pour 1 cup of the tomato sauce into the bottom of a roasting pan.  Reserve the remaining 2 cups of sauce.  Mix the veal, salt, pepper, bell pepper, onion, garlic, egg and crumbs together with 1 cup of the reserved tomato sauce.  Mix well and form into a loaf.  Place the loaf into the roasting pan and roast at 350 F for 45 minutes.  Pour the remaining one cup of tomato sauce over the loaf, return to the oven and cook for a further 15 minutes.  Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then slice.



About cookinginsens

An American living in Burgundy, France
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11 Responses to Blue Plate Special

  1. Michelle says:

    Isn’t it amazing to remember that such restaurants used to be something other than just open a can and heat it up? So sad. But your meatloaf, even if made without enthusiasm, looks awfully good.

  2. I love the table jukeboxes. I would drive my mother crazy flipping the “menus” back and forth. She also made a good meatloaf. Thanks for bringing back memories.

  3. My mother used to make meatloaf regularly when I was a kid – I guess it was an inexpensive and tasty way to feed a family!! I have to ask her how she made it! I remember it always being served with mashed potatoes and lots of gravy!!

    • Another way is to use mushroom canned soup for the liquid in meatloaf and also poured on top. That’s a kind of gravy. Or just make some gravy, cool and pour a cup in the meat before shaping, saving gravy to pour over and to pass. My mother made both of those.

  4. Well I can’t think the juices from the Lamb Shank would do that any harm, lol!!! It looks positively mouthwatering! I picked up the same plates because I thought “frugal blog” and “blue plate special” when I saw my son had them at his house! They were a bargain but I’ve already broken a bowl which seemed to happen easily!

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