It’s 1952 and you are throwing a fabulous dinner party for your husband’s boss. Normally any meatloaf would be perfectly acceptable for dinner, but you need to impress. So, you whip out the most creative recipe you have in your arsenal. The Pie Pan Meatloaf, practically a meal in itself, is sure to wow your guests.
Meatloaf has been a well-known recipe in the American household since the 1920’s.1 It’s versatile, inexpensive, and comforting.
Everyone has a favorite recipe. Mine is my late Grandma Shirley’s all pork loaf. Super fatty ground pork, Lawry’s meatloaf seasoning, and some kind of ketchup topping…yum. I would always take a thick slice from leftovers, smother it in mayo, and sandwich it between two toasty slices of sourdough…I died with every rich bite.
Grandma’s recipe is by far the best out there (yes, I’m biased) and maybe one day I’ll share it, but not today.
Today, I present the Pie Pan Meatloaf. This odd, basically deconstructed meatloaf recipe cooked in a pie pan, comes from a pamphlet titled, “Meat Recipes You’ll Talk About,” compliments of the National Live Stock and Meat Board. Published in 1952, the pamphlet considers itself “a manual of meat information for the homemaker.”2 This lovely little pamphlet does include helpful information, like how to cook different cuts of meat, but it also includes some questionable recipes…like this Pie Pan Meatloaf.
Why did the the National Live Stock Board believe they needed to publish such a creative recipe? Well, maybe it stems from the social pressures put on post-WWII women to be creative in the kitchen.
By 1945, 19 million women found themselves in the workforce helping with the war effort.3 Soon after the war ended, more than half wound up back at home.4 Advertisements, television, and educational films promoted the ideals of a stay-at-home mom who was feminine, cooked, and cleaned.5 The media even tried to convince housewives that cooking was “a complete aesthetic and creative experience that could be as challenging as sculpting or painting.”6
Yes, cooking is a skill that can be creative and challenging, but being creative in the kitchen on your own takes time. It is not necessarily suited for someone who is rediscovering the kitchen, like many post-war women were doing. While the media was pushing for these women to get back in the kitchen, they were not really encouraging them to be creative on their own. That’s why we see so many creative recipes from the 1950’s. They were provided to women, many of which didn’t have a ton of experience in the kitchen, as step-by-step guides to create interesting meals for their loved ones.
This pie pan meatloaf definitely is creative and wow worthy. Of course I had to make it.
The original recipe has some problems from the get go. No binder in the meat crust, which lead to major shrinkage; a bread crumb heavy filling, which resulted in an odd texture; and ONLY three slices of bacon for the top crust. No bueno.
I made some major changes to this meatloaf to make it more appetizing. A proper binder in the meat crust to keep it moist, a veggie packed stuffing as the filling for more substance, and a 12-slice bacon lattice crust makes this recipe a monster! With close to a three hour start to finish time, I only recommend making it for a proper 1950’s themed dinner party.
Invite all of your dapper friends over, make sure to get all dolled up in an appropriate vintage or retro party dress (heels are a given), and show off your creative endeavors in the kitchen as you joyfully present this Pie Pan Meatloaf on your perfectly set table.
If you do throw a 1950’s party and whip this recipe up, why don’t you serve my caramel coconut icebox cake for dessert and…INVITE ME! If that isn’t a realistic request, at least let me know about it via twitter or instagram.
I promise you are not going crazy, I called for gelatin in the meat crust. Check out the reasons why on Serious Eats.
For a more in-depth history on meatloaf, The Atlantic has a fantastic article.
If you need a little refresher on how to make a lattice-top pie crust, The Kitchen (as always) has great step-by-step photos, just substitute the strips of pie dough they are using with slices of delicious fatty bacon.Print
This vintage recipe, from 1952, is a meal in one dish. A moist meat crust, veggie packed stuffing filling, and bacon lattice top, make up this creative recipe.
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 yellow onions, finely chopped (about 3 cups)
- 1 pound ground beef (85 percent lean)
- 1 pound ground pork
- 2 ounces french bread, torn into pea sized pieces (about 2 cups)
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
- 1/2 teaspoon unflavored powdered gelatin
- 1 1/2 tablespoons worcestershire
- 2 tablespoons whole grain dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 5 stalks celery, coarsely chopped (about 2 cups)
- 1 Granny Smith apple, coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)
- 1 small bulb fennel, coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 10 ounces french bread, torn into pea sized pieces (about 8 cups)
- 1/4 cup minced parsley
- 1 tablespoon minced sage leaves
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
- 10–12 slices bacon
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- For the meat crust, melt butter in a large skillet over high heat. Add onion. Cook and stir occasionally until translucent, about 7 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Whisk chicken broth and eggs together in a large bowl. Add the gelatin in one layer and allow to stand for 5 minutes.
- Stir in the bread pieces, worcestershire, dijon, salt, and pepper. Add ground meat and 1/2 cup of the cooked onions. Gently mix together using your hands (they are the best kitchen tools you’ll ever have!).
- Evenly and firmly press the meatloaf mixture into one even layer along the bottom, sides, and lip of the pan. Make sure to make enough room in the pie pan for the filling. Loosely cover and refrigerate.
- For the filling, return the skillet with the remaining onions to medium-high heat. Add the celery, apple, and fennel. Stirring occasionally, cook until everything has slightly softened, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Remove from heat and add torn bread, parsley, sage, salt, pepper, and chicken broth. Mix well.
- Remove the pie from the refrigerator, uncover, and fill the center with the stuffing mixture.
- Using the methods for a normal lattice-topped pie crust, weave the bacon slices together over the stuffing. Tuck any loose bacon ends between the stuffing and meat crust.
- Place pie pan on a baking sheet, and bake for 1 hour, or until meat crust is cooked through.
- Arumugam, Nadia. “From Budget Fare to Culinary Inspiration, the History of Meatloaf.” The Atlantic. September 20, 2011. Accessed January 13, 2016.http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2011/09/from-budget-fare-to-culinary-inspiration-the-history-of-meatloaf/245265/.
- National Live Stock and Meat Board. Meat Recipes You’ll Talk About. Chcago: National Live Stock and Meat Board, 1952.
- “Continued Employment after the War?”: The Women’s Bureau Studies Postwar Plans of Women Workers.” “Continued Employment after the War?”: The Women’s Bureau Studies Postwar Plans of Women Workers. Accessed January 13, 2016. http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/7027/.
- Bussing-Burks, Marie. “Women and Post-WWII Wages.” NEBR. Accessed January 13, 2016. http://www.nber.org/digest/nov02/w9013.html.
- “American Experience: TV’s Most-watched History Series.” PBS. Accessed January 20, 2016. http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/general-article/tupperware-work/.
- Inness, Sherrie A. “Building the Happy Housewife.” In Dinner Roles: American Women and Culinary Culture. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2001. Accessed January 13, 2016. https://books.google.com/books?id=nzN3bRRIH-gC&pg=PA142&lpg=PA142&dq=why+did+housewives+become+creative+in+the+kitchen&source=bl&ots=CK77Bo-ic3&sig=dq5iRWNdRfgvWKGN0CMDwbM_7_U&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjEl5Pe86zKAhUGSyYKHYwcBUsQ6AEIHDAA#v=onepage&q=creative&f=false.