Slices of meatloaf on plate with peas and carrots and mashed potatoes

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One Meatloaf, Many Ways
When Sam Sifton, the former restaurant critic for The New York Times, was charged with making meatloaf for Nora Ephron, who had her own famous recipe, he learned one very important lesson: "Do not make Nora Ephron's meatloaf for Nora Ephron. This is a sucker's play and remains true even if you're cooking for someone's aunt on a Saturday night in Fort Myers, Florida: Don't make a person's signature recipe for that person, ever. Instead, take it as a starting point."

Here are a few ways to riff on Nora's meatloaf (or your aunt's): Instead of the usual onions and carrots, try bell peppers, jalapeño peppers, zucchini or mushrooms (sauté the vegetables in a tablespoon or two of olive oil until they're soft before adding them to the meat mixture). And while bread crumbs are the traditional filler, panko (Japanese bread crumbs); rolled oats; or crushed corn flakes, tortilla chips or crackers (Cheddar Goldfish, no joke!) work great too.
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