In my grandmother’s recipe box — brimming with her handwritten recipes and The Dallas Morning News food section clippings from the 1930s through most of the 1950s — I found a meatloaf recipe that came from a 4-H Club. It calls for oatmeal as a filler, but I’ve always been partial to crushed Saltines — and if I have them, I’ll include crushed canned fried onion strings, too. In my makeover, I use a small can of chopped green chiles in place of chopped green bell pepper for a little extra tang. Some folks only like ketchup as the sauce in meatloaf, but the mixture of crushed tomatoes tempers ketchup’s sweetness for me. Whatever you do, don’t skip the smoked bacon; it infuses the meatloaf with an extra layer of satisfying indulgence. Of course, smashed potatoes and green peas are still the right accompaniments for meatloaf in our house!

Serves 4

  • 1 ½ pounds ground beef (80 percent lean)
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1 small can chopped green chiles
  • 1 cup Saltine cracker crumbs
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • Sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 slices smoked bacon

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine ground beef, onion, green chiles, cracker crumbs and egg. Mix just to combine. In a medium bowl, combine crushed tomatoes, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, paprika, and salt and pepper, stirring well. Spoon roughly half of the tomato mixture into the ground beef mixture, mixing well. Transfer meat mixture to a glass or non-stick loaf pan, cover with a few tablespoons of the tomato mixture and top with bacon. Bake for 55 minutes to 1 hour, until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees, using a meat thermometer. Let stand for 10 minutes before slicing. Serve with remaining tomato sauce mixture.

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