Meat Loaf

Meatloaf.

No no no…not you, sir.  I mean Meatloaf.

Yeaaaaaaahhh…now that’s what I’m talkin’ about!  Paradise by the oven light.

Actually I feel ridiculous putting up a meatloaf recipe.  In my mind, acquiring knowledge of meatloaf happens in one of three ways:  1) you get the recipe from your mother; or 2) you get it from some other significant person in your circle of family and friends; or 3) you buy a pound of ground beef and think “how hard can this be?” and after successive trial and error, you arrive at your own personal meatloaf that you then make by rote until someone asks you how.  Then you think about it.

I made meatloaf the way my mother taught me, which was via a series of notes left on the kitchen counter when I was growing up as a latchkey kid.   “Pr–h–t ov– to 350 a 5:00,” was always at the top (my mother had terrible handwriting and she was always scribbling these notes in a hurry).  Sometimes the dry ingredients had been laid out for me, sometimes not.  “Gr—d b–f in frig.  2 egs.  1/2 cup br–dcr—bs…”  The last direction was always to open a can of Campbell’s tomato soup and spread it over the top of the meatloaf.  Why?  I never thought to ask why until later years, and my mother shrugged and said that’s the way her mother had done.  I accepted that, and in later years I went from tomato soup to just plain ketchup as a top glaze.  Why?  I don’t know, maybe I didn’t have the soup one night, made do with the ketchup and liked it better.  This is how these things happen.

(By the way, the great philosopher and essayist Robert Fulghum made a few wonderful observations about meatloaf in his book Uh-Oh, and you can click here to read that excerpt.)

There’s turkey meatloaf, and ground beef meatloaf, and some will say that if you’re going to do it, then do it right and use a mix of ground beef, ground pork and ground veal.  My friend Lisa, after reading my post on brownies, advised that Martha Stewart’s recipe for All-American Meatloaf in the same book (Favorite Comfort Food) is really good.  It calls for 1/2 pounds of beef, veal and pork.  Alas tonight, I only have one pound of ground turkey so I’ll adapt.

Martha Stewart’s All-American Meatloaf

  • 3 slices white bread (which she has you process into crumbs but you know me, ahem, I’ve already done that ahead of time and I will translate this to 1/2 cup of fresh breadcrumbs)
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch rounds (and this is unprecedented: a recipe calling for one (1) carrot, with which I concur.)
  • 1 rib celery, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed (I didn’t have any heads of garlic and couldn’t bring myself to use the jarred stuff; I went without)
  • 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, loosely packed (which she also has you process but blah blah, yeah, I’ve got that too, and translate to 1/4 cup pre-chopped parsley)
  • 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard (I don’t have this, will use regular)
  • 1/2 pound each ground beef, veal, pork (as I said, I am using 1 pound turkey)
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon Tobasco (I don’t have this)
  • I1/2 teaspoon chopped rosemary, plus more needles for sprinkling (I don’t have fresh, only dry, and you should use less when it’s dried so I’m using 1/4 tsp.  No wait, I lied…I don’t have dried either.  I suck.  OK, 1/2 tsp from this jar of McCormick “Italian Seasonings.”)

Put breadcrumbs in mixing bowl (however you procure them)

Place celery, carrot, garlic and onion in food processor, process until vegetables are minced, about 30 seconds, pausing to scrape down sides of bowl.  Transfer vegetables to mixing bowl with breadcrumbs.  Add 1/2 cup ketchup, 2 teaspoons of dry mustard, the ground meat, eggs, salt, pepper, rosemary and Tobasco.  Knead ingredients until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute.  Do not overknead, it will result in a heavy and dense loaf.  The texture should be wet, but tight enough to hold a free-form shape.

Set a fine-mesh baking rack in an 11×17 inch baking pan (I have neither of those things, honestly, Martha, you’re starting to piss me off now).  Cut a 5X11 inch piece of parchment paper, and place over center of rack to prevent meat loaf from falling through (ignore, ignore).  Using your hands, form an elongated loaf covering the parchment…OH FOR THE LOVE OF MAUDE!!  Shape it and put it in your meatloaf pan or your baking dish.  Done.

Make a glaze of the remaining 3 tablespoons ketchup, 2 1/2 teaspoons mustard, and the brown sugar.  Brush that over the top.  Then saute red onions in olive oil for about ten minutes and add 3 tablespoons of water and cook until that evaporates and…you know what, she lost me at “parchment paper.”  This sounds great but it’s Monday night, I’m tired, people are hungry.  I’m spreading ketchup over the top of my meatloaf and calling it a day.


Bake 50-55 minutes at 400.  Let cool 15 minutes and serve.

Serve with what?  How about Trader Joe’s mashed potatoes and the last of those little baby carrots I got at DeCicco’s, which failed so miserably in the crockpot?  I trimmed and peeled them, tossed them and my other 1/2 onion with olive oil, salt and pepper, and added them to the 400 oven halfway through cooking.

Oh wait, I lied…I don’t have the mashed potatoes.  How about Alexia waffle fries?  Yes?  Nod your head at me.  Yes.  Good?  Don’t lie.  OK.  Thank you.

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5 comments on “Meat Loaf

  1. Lisa says:

    Oh Yea. I forgot to mention. It’s a production. For meatloaf! But it really is worth it. Try it on a Sunday afternoon when you have more time. Trust me.

  2. Swain says:

    Even with all my lies and shortcuts it was delicious! I love the texture of having the minced veggies in there. I am properly humbled and vow to take the time to make this properly, fine-mesh rack, parchment paper and all. Thanks for finally getting me off page 136 of that book!

  3. Lookin good! Just be sure to give proper photo credit when possible or you might get a nasty gram. Now i’m off to read about your failed crockpot recipe! how did that happen?

  4. Francie says:

    Yum. Sometimes I make a glaze for the top with brown sugar, ketchup and yellow mustard. Delish.

  5. Rob says:

    OK then a challenge: if I can taste & like your meatloaf, I will give you my tomato sauce recipe. This will be difficult as I HATE meatloaf.

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