lunar loaf
"Photo credit: Emily Marshall-Garrett (@jelloandcasseroles). Recipe courtesy Emily Marshall-Garrett

Lunar Loaf

The meatloaf and mashed potatoes igloo found in a 1967 issue of Family Circle inspired this dish.


for the meatloaf

for the mashed potatoes


Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

1. Sauté the onions to just translucent. Don't brown; set aside.
2. In this order, combine in a large bowl: ground beef, breadcrumbs, cooled cooked onions, carrot (if using), and egg. Then pour on the barbecue sauce.
3. Mix it up well. Thoroughly mix ingredients by squeezing them together repeatedly with your hands until well incorporated. Get in there and go for it.
4. Form a half-sphere. You're going to frost it with potatoes, so don't fret over perfection. It will lose height as it cooks, and the fat renders out. Go higher with the apex than you want it to turn out. If you're just making a regular loaf, place mixture in an ungreased 9" loaf pan.
5. Bake it. Place in oven and cook for 45 minutes or until the fat runs clear, and the top is browned. Be sure to cook this on a rimmed baking pan to capture the fat that will render off. You're going to pour it off after the pan is no longer crazy hot. Be cautious of a grease burn. The meatloaf will shrink as it cooks. That's okay. You're doing it right.

Garnishing with potatoes

On the stovetop, follow the recipe on the box for instant mashed potatoes.

1. Make a generous quantity: For a small moon, about 4-6 servings is enough. If you are substituting with your own homemade mashed potatoes, that's fine.
2. Tint and divide the potatoes. Using your blue food coloring, tint the entire batch a very light blue (think the moon is made of green cheese). Separate about ¼ the total amount, and tint it just slightly darker. The darker color will be for the shadowing and craters.
3. Using the lighter shade, frost the whole spheric loaf. Looking at a picture of the moon, do your best to pick out the major craters and make them with the backs of different sized spoons. Use the back of the spoon to push into the surface and rotate gently to make a crater.
4. Using the darker color, coat the craters' insides: Load the back of the spoon with some of the darker potatoes. There is no wrong way to do this.
5. Assess and adjust your work. Pock and pit and crater and twirl to match the picture you chose, and don't worry too much about perfection, a tiny flag drives the concept home. You may be surprised how easy this is, as the moon's patterns are more iconic than you may realize.
6. Plant your flag! You just landed on the meatloaf moon.


When it's time to frost this with potatoes, you're going to have to work fast as the meatloaf and potatoes will be dropping in temperature as you go, and who wants to present a cold meatloaf? It's helpful to start with hot mashed potatoes, but you'll need to let the meatloaf come to a reasonably lowered temperature before you frost it. Don't fret too much, as once it's done, you can return it to the oven to warm at a low temperature.