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Annie Wilkes’s MISERY Meatloaf

Annie Wilkes may be one of the most deceptively terrifying characters in fiction, flipping from attentive nurse to unhinged fanatic in a sublime performance by Kathy Bates in the 1990 adaptation of Stephen King’s Misery. She’s a fearsome villain, but also complex, with many good qualities. She’s tenacious, lively, a voracious reader, skilled in medicine, critical of profanity, kind to animals, and to top it off it turns out she can cook!

Her home-cooked meatloaf is unique and lovingly prepared. You can’t find something like that in a restaurant in New York! And she’s not stingy with her secrets either. When asked, she offers “My secret is I always use fresh tomatoes, never canned, and to give it that extra zip I mix a little Spam with the ground beef!” 

Now who knows how Annie Wilkes is procuring fresh tomatoes in snowbound Colorado, but in between all her stalking and hobbling, she gets it done. One trick I’ve learned for better year-round tomatoes, is to use romas (which have a longer season than other varieties) and to slow roast them. Somehow roasting makes even subpar tomatoes scrumptious. If you are as energetic as farmer Annie, you can roast summer tomatoes, then freeze and store them for 6 months, for even better fresh-tomato meatloaf year-round. In this recipe, since you’re already roasting your tomatoes, you can do your onions and garlic at the same time, so they all get that roasted caramelized sweetness before being added to the final product. 

I have a not so secret love for the much-maligned Spam. In dishes like Korean kimchi jjigae and Hawaiian Spam musubi it’s delicious, and I applaud Annie for sneaking it into her meatloaf. The trick here is to crumble and pan fry it first. You’ll get maximum “extra zip”, and render out some of the fat that can make meatloaf gross and soggy. In fact, use the leanest ground beef you can find for this same reason. 

For the rest, I kept the method and seasonings classic and simple. After all, Annie Wilkes is a simple girl, who knows that a simple home-cooked meal is how you can really show someone you’re their number one fan!

Recipe Card

Annie Wilkes’s MISERY Meatloaf


For the loaf:

For the glaze, whisk together:


  1. Heat oven to 400. On separate parchment-lined baking pans, spread tomatoes and onions in a single layer, toss with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast until well cooked with a few brown and crispy parts, 25-30 minutes (onions will likely be done first). When they are cool enough to handle, chop them up.
  2. On medium-high, cook Spam in a dry pan until brown, remove to a paper towel-lined plate. Lower oven heat to 350.

  3. Add roasted tomatoes and onions, Spam, ground beef, bread crumbs, milk, egg, Worcestershire sauce, salt, parsley, garlic powder and pepper to a large bowl, and mix well. Press mixture into a parchment-lined 9×5 loaf pan. Spoon glaze over the top and spread.

  4. Bake for 55 minutes to an hour. Pull the loaf out with the parchment and let cool on a board 10-15 minutes before slicing.

Originally published August 20, 2019 on NOFS.

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