My grandma was an excellent cook. She never made one bad dish in all the years I knew her. This was one of her best recipes. Meatloaf is much maligned but this one is not only simple, but great. It's a meatloaf even meatloaf haters will love. It's the only meatloaf I'll eat!
1Crush 1 c of saltine crackers. Putting them in a ziploc bag and rolling them with a rolling pin works really well. Set aside.
2Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Open can of tomatoes and squeeze them to get the juice out. It's wise to squeeze these into a deep bowl so you don't get squirted! Save the juice in that bowl and put the squeezed out tomatoes into the bowl you plan to mix your meatloaf in.
3Finely dice your onion and your celery ribs. Then place your ground chuck, 3 eggs, celery, onions, saltines and tomatoes all together in a bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste and mix thoroughly with your hands.
4Form into an oval loaf shape.Place into a casserole or roasting dish with enough room to contain drippings (I use a 9 x 13), preferably one with a top but you can use foil to cover as well.
5Cover with a generous shaking of chili powder and pour reserved tomato juice over the top of the loaf. Put in the oven with a cover on it. Cooking time varies a little, but if you use around 2 to 2.25lbs. of chuck it should take 1 hour or so to cook (depending upon your oven, of course). Baste every 20 minutes or so. When the meatloaf is about 15 minutes from being done, take off the top and let it form a crust.
6Take it out and let it rest about 10 minutes while you're making the gravy.
7To make the gravy, place the pan drippings in a sauce pan and bring to a boil.
8Take 2 tbsp. cornstarch dissolved in a little cold water and stir into boiling drippings. Stir until thickened. If you're having trouble getting it thick, you can always add another tbsp. of cornstarch. When it's thickened how you like it, serve over mashed potatoes and maybe add some sugar snap peas. This meal is great, hearty and the meatloaf makes great sandwiches the next day.