Jewish Christmas Loaf | The Jewish Week | Food & Wine

Jewish Christmas Loaf

Facebook icon
Twitter icon
Digg icon
e-mail icon
Jewish Christmas Loaf

We invented this loaf—named for the urban tradition of Jewish families trekking to Chinese restaurants on Christmas—to reflect some of our most treasured Chinese seasonings and flavors. We’ve tucked five-spice powder, soy sauce and sesame oil into a rich slab of ground beef. Then, for a climactic punch of heat and flavor, we turn to Asian garlic sauce (widely available in Asian grocery stores and at specialty markets like Whole Foods), which contains not just garlic but coarsely ground chiles as well.

This recipe uses a tad more uncooked oats—the innocuously flavored workhorse of binders—than many other loaves call for, because this particular meat mixture would otherwise be too wet. And over several tests of this recipe, we doubled the glaze from our first try because guests wanted more, more, more. It mingles with the pan juices and should be scooped up and spooned over the slices of loaf for anyone who wants that, which should be everyone.

Servings & Times
  • Serves 6


2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil

2 large shallots, finely chopped

2 pounds ground beef

11⁄3 cups quick-cooking oats

2 eggs, lightly whisked

1 stalk celery, finely chopped

2 teaspoons five-spice powder

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

1⁄2 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro

1⁄2 cup spicy Asian garlic sauce


2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons spicy Asian garlic sauce

6 tablespoons ketchup


1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet or a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with aluminum foil or parchment paper. 

2. Warm the sesame oil in a medium-sized skillet over low heat. Add the shallots and sauté until they are soft, about 10 minutes. Let the shallots cool a bit. 

3. In a large bowl, combine all the remaining loaf ingredients with the shallots and their oil. Mix thoroughly with your clean hands. 

4. Pull off some of the meatloaf batter and create a tiny slider-sized burger; cook it in the still-slick skillet for a few minutes, until cooked through. Taste, and adjust the seasonings in accordance with your preferences. 

5. On the prepared baking sheet or baking dish, form the mixture into a loaf with a uniform width from end to end. 

6. To make the glaze, stir the soy sauce, garlic sauce and ketchup together in a small bowl. Slather the glaze over the top of the loaf, letting some drip off the sides. 

7. Bake for about 1 hour 10 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 155 degrees F. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the meatloaf rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes before slicing and serving. Spoon any sauce that has gathered around the loaf generously over the slices.

Reprinted with permission from A Meatloaf in Every Oven. 2017 by Frank Bruni and Jennifer Steinhauer, Grand Central Life and Style.