Bipartisan Meatloaf

Last week, when Susan Collins, Republican Senator of Maine, broke with her party to vote against Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, I know what you were all thinking: Yeah, it’s good to know where she stands on vouchers and charter schools, but what I really want to know is: Where does she stand on meatloaf?

I hear you! As any patriot worth her kosher salt knows, there is no single correct way to combine meat, egg, breadcrumbs, and spices to make America’s most iconic comfort food. Maybe you favor the beef-pork-veal trinity for your grind, maybe you’ve long since converted to turkey; maybe you fold in milk-soaked bread or refuse to acknowledge a loaf’s legitimacy without Italian breadcrumbs. Ask any collection of cooks what their secret ingredient is, and you’ll hear everything from sumac to Sriracha to ricotta to hoisin to cumin — each resulting in a recipe as special and unique as a snowflake.

Thankfully, we have A Meatloaf in Every Oven, written by veteran New York Times staffers Frank Bruni and Jennifer Steinhauer to report on Collins’s protein position and more. Omg, so much more! Borne of a mutual passion for meatloaf — yes, I meant to write that — their hilariously reverent collection is a decade in the making and features over fifty recipes from chefs, grandmothers, food writers, and Capitol Hill personalities on both sides of the aisle. At the Times, Bruni is an op-ed columnist who was once restaurant reviewer, and Steinhauer covers Congress (see: this profile) when she’s not cooking for her young kids. (Remember her Food52 column?) It explains why you will find Mario Batali’s Stuffed Meatloaf and April Bloomfield’s Lamb Loaf with Yogurt and Mint only a few pages away from Senator Collins’s mustard and horseradish-spiked recipe handed down from her mother Pat.

Trust me, it works. Even if you consider it treason to deviate from your grandmother’s tried-and-true, Heinz-smothered, bacon-topped beauty and don’t plan on trying out any of the recipes — the book is just so much fun. I kept reading parts out loud to Andy when it first arrived.

“We both feel that when we cook meatloaf, we’re connected to something bigger,” they write in the introduction. “A tradition, a time line. Meatloaf is elemental. It’s enduring. And if comfort foods are those that are not only an answer to hunger, but also an existential balm, served without undue fuss or expensive implements, then meatloaf rules the category. It reigns supreme. It’s the fluffy caftan of comfort foods.”

They were nice enough to offer not only the official statement on the senator’s Bipartisan Meatloaf — below — but a giveaway: A free copy of their book to two random commenters below. Contest ends Thursday, February 16 at noon ET. Good luck!

Susan Collins’s Bipartisan Meatloaf
Excerpted with Permission from A Meatloaf in Every Oven, by Frank Bruni & Jennifer Steinhauer
Serves 6
Senator Susan Collins of Maine may be best known for her willingness to cooperate with colleagues across the aisle and for her expertise on appropriations, but her non-political passion is all things food. She runs a weekly lunch group with her fellow Republicans, in which each member shows off his or her home-state specialty. She spends every weekend in front of the stove or oven, cooking up treats for her husband. Among his favorites is the meatloaf created by her mother, Pat. It has a few special twists: pungent dry mustard, horseradish and a topping of barbecue sauce rather than ketchup. “I grew up in a large family with five brothers and sisters,” the senator told us. “The six of us all had very different food preferences, but on one thing we were unanimous: We all loved my mother’s meatloaf.”

2 teaspoons olive oil
3⁄4 cup minced onion
2 large eggs
2 pounds ground chuck
2 cups fresh bread crumbs
1⁄4 cup minced green bell peppers
2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
2 tablespoons dry mustard
1⁄4 cup whole milk
3⁄4 cup barbecue sauce
1 slice bacon

1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line
 a baking sheet or a large baking pan with parchment paper. (This loaf can also be made in a lightly oiled loaf pan, to keep it strictly Pat Collins correct.)

2. Warm the olive oil in a small skillet over low heat, add the onions and sauté until they are soft and fragrant, about 7 minutes. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, beat the eggs lightly with a fork. Mix in the beef and then the bread crumbs, (slightly cooled) onions and bell peppers. Add the horseradish, dry mustard, milk and 1⁄4 cup of the barbecue sauce and lightly combine with your clean hands until just mixed. Shape the mixture into a loaf on the baking sheet or pack it gently into a loaf pan.

4. Place the bacon slice lengthwise on top, and then spread the remaining 1⁄2 cup barbecue sauce over the loaf.

5. Bake for roughly 50 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches about 150 degrees F. Let the loaf rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes, then slice and serve.

Note: The meatloaf pictured above is not the Senator’s — it’s my mother-in-law’s, from Dinner: A Love Story.

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Pam Grumbles

Love me some meatloaf. How fun! My daughter came up with meatloaf as her idea of a typical American meal to serve international students. Accompanied with green beans and mashed potatoes!!


My husband makes fun of my throw a little of everything in method of making meatloaf, maybe this book will show him that’s the way to do it!


In college, I made a habit of requesting meatloaf as my #1 meal whenever I visited home. It was also always my answer whenever I went to friends houses for the weekend and their moms would ask what I wanted to eat. To this day, it’s what I request whenever we visit my in-laws. Every mom has a different recipe, but somehow they all always taste like home.


We had meatloaf often growing up, always enjoyed it but never made it once I moved out of my parent’s home. May have to try out this recipe just to get started!

Tara Greene

Horseradish is a new meatloaf related concept. Always fun to try twist on the dinner standby. “Mom, meatloaf!”


My mother’s meatloaf, which I still make (and tweak), uses dry rolled oats instead of breadcrumbs. Quick oats integrate better, but plain rolled oats add a rustic texture. It’s great and easy–and if the oats are gluten free, then it’s gluten free, too. This book looks a blast.

Lindsey R.

I hate to admit it — but I”ve never been a big meatloaf fan. This book may change my mind though!


Oh my goodness, I need this cookbook! I love when stories are incorporated into cookbooks, it just makes them so much better.


We had meatloaf last night, with baked potatoes, salad, and a decidedly–oldschool cauliflower dish: left whole, parboiled, “iced” with mayo and yellow mustard, shredded cheddar sprinkled on top, then baked. I love oven meals in the winter! Thank you for the giveaway!


I was scrolling through Instagram WHILE WAITING FOR MY MEATLOAF TO COME OUT OF THE OVEN when I saw your post on this. I think it’s fate!


I just saw the piece on CBSN yesterday about this cookbook and immediately went to Amazon and put it on my wishlist. I can’t wait to get my hands on it and I have a feeling it’s going to be my go-to gift for the foreseeable future!


When I read the opening paragraph of this post my first thought was “hey I live in Maine!” And then I was wondering where you were going with Susan Collins and meatloaf, but as I continued to read, it all made sense! I always use dry mustard in my meatloaf as well, a tradition passed down from my great grandmother. Must be a Maine thing?!


I’m definitely trying this meatloaf recipe. It sounds different than what I usually make and delicious. Meatloaf is one of my family’s favorites – ironic since I never like meatloaf when I was young.


Inspiring! I love the writing that both Steinhauer and Bruni do (and I miss the Food52 column a lot) and reading this post makes me realize I have never cooked meatloaf for my 10 year old, despite loving my mother’s version as a child….Fingers crossed!

April May

My husbands Grandmothers meatloaf is the favorite in our house but I wouldn’t mind trying some new recipes out.

Tricia C

Somehow I’ve never cooked meatloaf. I’ve eaten and enjoyed plenty in my life, but I’ve never made it. I think it’s about time.


Now I know what to make for dinner tomorrow!

(P.S. Just discovered your books and blog two weeks ago. With very spirited two-year-old twins, a husband and a full-time job, making dinner was a chore, not a joy, for the past few years. Thanks for inspiring me to ENJOY cooking again!)


After her DeVos vote, I love Senator Collins. The jury’s still out on meatloaf, but maybe this cookbook would help me cross the aisle, so to speak. 🙂


We have decided that meatloaf will be the centrepiece of one of the dinners my 8 year old daughter will learn to cook by herself before she is 9. A meatloaf cookbook – excellent idea!


My meatball-loving 9-year-old asked today, is meatloaf just a giant meatball? She would love to win this book.


I put two slices of white bread on my pan then shape the meatloaf on top. The bread soaks up all of the fat!


Yes! A little mayo, some cold meatloaf sliced thin, maybe some hot and sweet peppers, and white bread! haha……a restaurant near where I work makes a sick cold meatloaf hoagie. I limit it to once a year.


Oh I do love Frank Bruni (“Born Round” spoke to me!!), I love meatloaf, and I love Susan Collins!!

Jennifer Hettinger

Meatloaf has been my favorite since I can remember. During my vegetarian phase in high school I begged my mom to make me a “vegetarian” meatloaf for my birthday dinner. Let’s just say that only happened once and I now bounce from one MEATloaf recipe to the next and I don’t shy away from the occasional Trader Joe meatloaf either.


This is perfect timing for me, because I have yet to find a good meatloaf recipe and it’s been on my list of things to do. Thank you!


What a fantastic concept! And I never before considered meatloaf a “meal template” type dish – but clearly it could be!


This meatloaf sounds delicious. My husband ate meatloaf last week for the first time in his entire life ( he’s 47 years old!) and loved it. Thanks for the giveaway!


I live in DC (actual DC, not Virginia or MD) with my family. Us residents dealing with all of this political drama on a local level need comfort food more than ever! Hooray for this cookbook!


Fun book! I love trying new meatloaf recipes. I just tried Smitten Kitchen’s meatloaf meatballs last week. They were awesome.


My brothers used to make fun of me for requesting meatloaf for my birthday dinner, but it’s just so delicious… this cookbook sounds perfect to me!


I know I’m not the only one who could use as much comfort food as possible right now! Would love to own a copy of this, thank you for the giveaway and sharing the recipe!

Kristin M

I love this – and what a great season for meatloaf. We’re going to make this recipe tonight!


Meatloaf was something we ate a LOT growing up, but that I don’t think I’ve made once for my own family (the horror!). Therefore, I’d love a copy to get me started.


I haven’t expanded my cookbook collection in quite some time, but this would be just the book to change that trend!! Thank you for the giveaway and the breath of fresh humorous air, greatly needed in these times….


That picture made my mouth start to water.
My husband always claimed to despise meatloaf, until I actually made it for him – I don’t know what he actually thought meatloaf was (he grew up in England), but it was not this.

Ruth in VT

I love cookbooks that are chatty and where you get to learn about other people’s rituals/traditions!


I hated meatloaf growing up- but recently tried a turkey Mediterranean version from Iowa Girl Eats and I think I’m a convert!


My kids love meatloaf, but I still haven’t settled on a recipe I feel like is mine. Surely a book full of meatloaf recipes could remedy that.


As a kid, meatloaf was a dreaded meal. Funny how something one dislikes in youth can shapeshift into a classic (kind of like a song you couldn’t stand when it was released but decades later turn the radio up when it comes on)


This book sounds amazing. Such a simple idea, yet oh so genius! Most people love meatloaf and every cook has a go-to passed down recipe that they swear by. But I love the idea of changing things up and trying something different. We have meatloaf probably once a month since it’s a meal everyone in my family loves. I’ve always considered it a cold weather food. This book may change my view!


Neither my husband nor I liked the meatloaves we grew up with, but I tinkered with lots of recipes until I landed on a turkey and BBQ-sauce version that makes everyone happy. To each their own!


I recently had a baby and someone brought us meatloaf. I love as reminder what a simple and enjoyable meal it is to make – was looking for a recipe to make mine, it sounds like this book would be a great start!


What can I say – a beloved staple of my Midwest childhood. And mashed potatoes, of course! The cookbook sounds fun.


Sara Moulton’s meatloaf recipe from “Sara’s Secrets” of The Food Network!
Truly the best meatloaf ever:)


My mother never made meatloaf, so I do not have a meatloaf tradition from childhood. I’ve made Emily’s meatloaf from DALS several times, and it’s good! But i would love to branch out with this book!


My husband loves meatloaf, one of his all time favorite meals. But he has to buy it at the deli. I can’t make a decent meatloaf to save my soul (or anything else for that matter) Still, I love your blog and I bought your book so there must be a part of me that wants to cook!


So fun! I was a big Jennifer Steinhauer fan at Food52 and am quickly becoming a fan of Sen Collins. I love you too, Frank Bruni!


I love meatloaf! Trying to convert husband so this would be helpful to try out some new recipes 🙂

ChristieLynne Williamson

I can’t WAIT to try this recipe out! As a lover of creative spins on meatloaf, I loved seeing the piece about this book Mo Rocco did on CBS This Morning on Monday!


I love meatloaf. The best I ever tasted was a turkey meatloaf full of chopped veggies from a small take-out shop in Fairfield CT. After we moved, I tried to duplicate it. But it was never as good.