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Diced tomatoes with green chile (Recipe: Mexicali meatloaf)


With the election behind us and unity on everyone's mind, what I'm about to say might come as a shock.

We are still a country divided.

Divided not by politics or preferences, but by Ro*Tel®. Either you live in a Ro*Tel state, or you live somewhere else.

I live somewhere else, and until last week I had no hope of ever finding Ro*Tel in my local Rhode Island supermarket.

And then, last week, I found diced tomatoes with green chiles, made by our local Italian-products company whose yellow/red/green labels are familiar to any shopper in the Northeast, at the market in my little town!

It's not Ro*Tel, exactly, but it is, give or take a spice or two.

Now, I know what you're thinking: why add an item to your pantry that's really just a combination of two items you already keep on hand (canned chopped tomato, and canned green jalapeño chiles) with a bit of vinegar and cilantro tossed in?

Three good reasons: Economy. Environment. Storage.

I almost always use canned green chiles and tomato together. With this product, I'm buying fewer cans, at lower cost, and taking up less space in my pantry and in the town's recycling facility.

Authentic Ro*Tel comes in mild, medium or hot variations, and contains a secret blend of spices that give it more or less zip. With our local diced tomatoes with green chiles, plus a bit of cumin or cayenne or even Old Bay (and sometimes a few extra green chiles or fresh diced jalapeño), I can enjoy the wonderful regional cuisine of Texas and the Southwest -- Ro*Tel country -- in my own New England kitchen, with recipes like crockpot cream cheese, sausage and Ro*Tel dip, chile con queso, salsa, Texas spaghetti, black-eyed peas, taco soup, Louisiana gumbo, and Southwestern split pea soup.

Maybe all it takes to bring this country together is a bit of diced tomato, green chile, and a couple of spices here and there.

[Update: A snapshot of life in a Ro*Tel state. Thanks, Mae!]


Mexicali meatloaf

You can make muffins out of any meatloaf recipe; just remember to reduce the cooking time to 20-25 minutes. Cooked meatloaf can be frozen, or eaten cold on sandwiches. Serves 6.


2 lbs ground beef (10% fat)
1 medium onion, cut into chunks
1 green bell pepper, seeds and ribs removed, cut into chunks
14-oz can diced tomatoes with green chiles, drained and divided
1 large egg plus a large splash of milk, beaten together
1 cup plain dry bread crumbs
1 tsp each: kosher salt, black pepper, cumin and chili powder
Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional, but delicious)
1/2 cup smoky barbecue sauce (homemade, or your favorite store-bought)
Canola spray (like PAM)


Preheat oven to 375°F.

Put ground beef into a large bowl. Put chunks of onion and green pepper into a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse to finely chop the vegetables into very small pieces, then add them to the meat bowl. Add 1 cup of diced tomatoes with green chiles, plus remaining ingredients, except canola spray. Mix everything together lightly, with your impeccably clean hands, until just combined.

Coat a loaf pan with canola spray, and pack the meat mixture into it. Sprinkle the top with remaining chopped tomato. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until the internal temperature registers 160°F on an instant-read thermometer. Remove from the oven, tent lightly with aluminum foil, and let rest for 15 minutes or more before slicing.

More recipes in The Perfect Pantry:

Turkey taco salad
Ropa vieja
Turkey tacos
Chipotle meatloaf
Turkey-green-chile chili
Floribean chicken chili

Disclosure: The Perfect Pantry earns a few pennies on purchases made through the Amazon.com links in this post. Thank you for supporting this site when you start your shopping here.


It used to be the same could be said about Coors beer.
I do love ro-tel and I've used it in many a meat loaf. Looks beautiful.

What a memory. I remember when it was not available in CA yet and my mom used to buy it by the dozen from Texas. A small box would arrive at our house and for the next few months we would enjoy the famous rotel with velveeta cheese dip. MMmmmm...the memories.

Great idea -- I'll have to try it. I think there is RoTel in Michigan (though I haven't bought it for years). I am almost positive Whole Foods doesn't have it, which is my main shopping place these days.

This sounds delicious! I really, really like meat loaf, maybe because it's one of the foods my mother made at least once a week. And happily, I am in a Ro-Tel state! (Finally, I'm in a state I want to be in for something!)

Thank You, Lydia! I miss Ro*tel! I was introduced to it by my brother who worked in Texas for years. The Ro*tel/velveeta dip is such great naughty food! Who knew there was a work-around?

I always keep a few cans (and varieties) of Ro*Tel in my pantry. I'm embarrassed to admit I've never thought to add it to meatloaf. Seriously. Why is it always the obvious things that escape me?

Michigan is a really terrible place right now. Our (admittedly over-the-hill) rep just lost his committee chairmanship to a Californian. The heads of the auto industry just flew to DC in their private jets and convinced congress they deserve whatever fate they get, no bailout.

BUT we have RO*TEL and I just bought some and put a picture on my blog: http://maefood.blogspot.com/2008/11/i-live-in-rotel-state.html.

I had never heard of Ro*Tel until I started following the blog A Year of Crockpotting. I grew up in Montana so I guess they didn't have it around way back when. i was suprised to find it at a local IGA in Connecticut. And the sausage, cream cheese, Ro*Tel dip - a glorious sinful thing!

Interesting - I'd imagine New York is not exactly Ro*tel-central, but in my local grocery store I've spotted a few cans hiding in one of the random sections in the back. Being in Manhattan, the store is on the small side, and it's not really well-organized, but they make up for it with selection! (Even if you have to go to the far back corner and crouch down just to see that something is there.)

I never would have thought to put it in meatloaf, so thanks for the suggestion!

MyKitchen, I'm definitely late to this party. I can see that diced tomatoes w/green chile will become an addiction. Now I understand the whole Ro*Tel thing.

Gretchen, I have yet to try the Velveeta dip. It's on my list.

Mae, I love that you went out and bought some and posted about it today!

Kalyn, meatloaf has never been one of my passion foods, but I have to tell you that this one is really, really delicious.

Candy, we must get some Velveeta and make this the next time we visit...

Sandie, one of these days I'll have to do a head-to-head taste test with Ro*Tel and this Pastene version.

HB, so glad to hear that Ro*Tel has made it to CT. Can Rhode Island be far behind???

Joanna, the mid-Atlantic states have a different food distribution system that we do here in RI. I've often been able to find products in New York that I can't get here. Have fun with the real Ro*Tel.

We eat a lot meat loaf in our house. The past few weeks I have been looking for ideas to change it up. This looks delicious! Just what I've been looking for.

What the heck is Ro*Tel?? Hehe guess I live in a non-Ro*Tel state. But I do love Pastene! And that meat looks absolutely fabulous!

That sounds like a really tasty meatloaf!

I've made this same recipe (well, almost the same) many times and it is always well received and devoured. Easy and tastey. Thanks for reminding me. I always keep Rotel in my pantry.

Reeni, Kevin: hope this meatloaf will spice up your life -- it's got a bit of a kick!

Sues, that's what I said when I first heard of it. I've been jealous of all the folks who live where the Ro*Tel comes in several varieties. Maybe Pastene will follow.

Jancd, I had fun playing with this recipe. If I were making it just for me, of course, I'd add more heat. But I'm not much of a meatloaf eater, so for everyone else who tried it, the heat level was perfect.

Good for you for minimizing waste and reducing the number of cans you use. I vote for Ro*Tel!

There they were!!! three different kinds of Ro-Tel at Shaw's. I haven't even looked for it since I left Texas.

While I live in the great Ro-tel state of Texas, I've tried the Market Pantry version (by Target), and it is very similar. It lacks a bit of the heat and is a little heavier on the tomatoes, but it also makes a good substitute for those that do not have access to the real thing.

Lydia, that's hilarious! Kansas is indeed a Ro-tel state, and my family adores all their stuff. They will be * all over * that good-looking meatloaf. Thanks for sharing it.

TW, looks like the real thing isn't far from my local markets, but I like this locally-made substitute, too.

Pauline, wahoo! I'm heading there this week!

Erica, I'm heading to Target, too -- that's a new product for me and I'll definitely look for it.

Marilyn, this meatloaf really rocks -- I hope they love it.

I love diced tomatoes in a can but have not tried one with green chilis.

This sounds great, meatloaf is very popular in my house

Tigerfish, if you can find this (or the original Ro*Tel), do try it. Wonderful product!

Sara, this is one really delicious meatloaf, especially if you make it a bit spicy.

Although I live in a Ro*Tel state, I must confess I left Ro*Tel behind after reading about the Hatch brand on your blog. I'll have to pick up a can or two of the Pastene brand next time I'm in the northeast so I can compare the three!

Kathy, those Hatch chiles are hard to come by in my part of the world, but I do love them (big hint to any readers from RI who are traveling to New Mexico....). The Pastene product is tomato with chile, and it's a handy combination.

I'm bookmarking this one for my husband, it's right up his alley.

I can confirm that Stop & Shop in Bristol carries Ro*Tel (saw it today!). I couldn't find the Pastene though - odd.

Now Muir Glen the organic tomato processor seems to have come up with a selection of Ro•Tel type products. So the Ro•Tel challenged states might have a substitute. I put a photo at my blog (maefood.blogspot.com).

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