A co-worker who likes to talk to me about food – he’s knowledgeable and passionate on the subject – arrived at the office a few weeks ago rhapsodizing about a meatloaf he’d eaten at a friend’s house that weekend. Meatloaf doesn’t strike me as the sort of food that usually inspires rhapsodies, so I paid attention. Jack couldn’t stop talking about this one – moist and sweet from raisins and granola.

Stop right there. Granola? In a meatloaf? After a few minutes more conversation, it was clear to me that he was not talking about the sort of savory, elegant granola that trendy cooks these days like to strew over rice bowls, roasted carrots, soups and such. No, this was ordinary breakfast bowl granola, and clearly I needed to see this recipe. I called up Portland resident Debra Walton, the host of the dinner party (and a psychotherapist when she is not cooking meatloaf), and she kindly offered to share it.

Here is the note, verbatim, that she sent along with the recipe:

“When I was 10 years old, I stuffed my family’s freezer full of meat loaves. I made these in order to practice my 4-H cooking demonstration, which I had brilliantly titled ‘Meet Meatloaf.’ I recall being pretty pleased with myself. I sorted all this out on my own, as you may have guessed already. I grew up in Wyoming, a big cattle ranching state back in the day. When you crossed the state line on the two-lane highway, there was a giant sign that said ‘Eat Meat.’ So this all made perfect sense to me, as a fourth-grader. I also really believed my choice was exotic.”

When we spoke, Walton added that name of the group to whom she was giving her Meet Meatloaf demonstration was, “you’re going to love this – the Fremont County Chow Bells. They were mostly rancher wives who were in the extension service. I thought they were all nodding in celebration of my discovery, but now I think they were all nodding because they thought it was pretty amusing.”

Walton said her inspiration for this particular meatloaf struck at Rosemont Market, where she was shopping for oatmeal to use as binder when her eye landed on the store’s housemade granola; it was neither clumpy nor overly sweet. Eureka. Granola meatloaf. She figured her creation would go in one of two directions: It’d bomb or it’d be da bomb.

My colleague Jack swears it was the second.

Peggy Grodinsky can be contacted at 791-6453 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: PGrodinsky

Debra Walton’s Granola Meatloaf

“It was kind of an accident,” Walton says of the unusual granola addition, “and I thought this made this really interesting, and still really simple. It literally takes 5 minutes. I throw it all in one casserole dish, and I smush it together with my clean hands and that’s it.”

“It serves a lot!!!! I would say 8-10,” Walton says.

2 pounds local ground beef, 80/20

2 cups granola

2 cups coarsely chopped Vidalia onion

2 free range eggs

2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon salt

1/3 – 1/2 cup ketchup

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Using your hands, combine all the ingredients except for the ketchup in a large bowl. Pack the mixture into a large casserole dish, glaze the top with the ketchup and bake uncovered for 75 minutes.

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