10.18.10 § 5 Comments

Hope I didn’t scare anyone off with that title. However, when I think about meatloaf, and when I say “meatloaf,” it is usually like this: MEEATLOOOAF. (I’m not sure about that exact spelling but hopefully you get the idea.)

Evidently there are people out there who don’t like meatloaf. Those are not my people. I grew up on meatloaf and although it all but disappeared from my life during my college years (it’s hard to make meatloaf in a dorm room), since then it’s had a hell of a comeback.

Summer before last, my boyfriend at the time and I wanted to cook a special meal for his dad’s birthday. He’s a real meat and potatoes kind of guy, so we wanted to make something manly and simple. I turned to the ever-dependable archive of Gourmet recipes on Epicurious where we found a glorious meatloaf recipe, and although our meal (pictured at the top of the page) wasn’t exactly “manly” (with a starter of cold tomato and roasted red pepper soup and an asparagus and potato side), everyone still raved (including the birthday boy).

Lately, I’ve been trying to find an excuse to make myself some meatloaf, but it seems wasteful to make such a family-oriented food for just little old me. To my great surprise and pleasure, when I visited said ex-boyfriend’s apartment for dinner not too long ago, he was whipping up (you guessed it) meatloaf. Some might guess that his motives are suspect since meatloaf is quite surely the way to my heart, but honestly I don’t care. I was too excited to read anything into it. Note to potential suitors: I am a sucker for good food and the men who make it.

Back to the meatloaf. It was nice to watch somebody else do the cooking, something that (as previously mentioned) I rarely do. As an observer, I was free to snap some photos and pat myself on the back for teaching this guy his way around a kitchen.

I’m also always amazed at how easy it is to make good meatloaf. (I’m guessing it’s not much harder to make bad meatloaf, since so many people don’t like it, but this version will rock your socks. I promise.) This beautiful incarnation of the classic dish combines ground beef and pork with elements that take it up a notch on the sophistication scale, such as prunes and bacon. I was definitely skeptical about the prunes the first time around, but trust me on this one.

And then of course there is the really fun part about meatloaf (bet you didn’t know meatloaf was fun, huh?), mixing it with your hands! Who doesn’t love putting their hands into a bowl of squishy raw meat and mushing everything around? Like I said, no-meatloaf people are not my people.

Now isn’t that beautiful? And think of the possibilities! You can freeze parts of it for later, use leftovers for meatloaf sandwiches, or just eat so much on the first sitting that you feel slightly ill, which is what I usually opt for. As a kid, I ate my meatloaf with ketchup, but this is grown-up meatloaf, no ketchup needed. Of course, if you like ketchup with your meatloaf, go ahead. We’ve all gotta get a little crazy sometimes.

barely adapted from Gourmet

1 cup fine fresh bread crumbs (from 2 slices firm white sandwich bread)
1/3 cup whole milk
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium celery rib, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 pound bacon (about 4 slices), chopped
1/2 cup pitted prunes, chopped
1 1/2 pounds ground beef chuck
1/2 pound ground pork (not lean)
2 large eggs
1/3 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.

In a large bowl, soak the bread crumbs in milk.

Meanwhile, cook the onion, garlic, celery, and carrot in butter in a large, heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion turns translucent, about 5 minutes. Cover skillet and reduce heat to low, then cook until carrot is tender, about 5 minutes more. Remove from heat and stir in Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, allspice, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper. Add this to the bread-crumb mixture.

Finely chop bacon and prunes (you can use a food processor if you have one, but it isn’t necessary), then add to onion mixture along with beef, pork, eggs, and parsley, mixing it all together with your hands.

Pack mixture into a 9- by 5-inch oval loaf in a 13- by 9-inch shallow baking dish or pan.

Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into center of meatloaf registers 155°F, 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.


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§ 5 Responses to MEATLOAF

  • Isn’t it funny how we pass on food loves to our loved (or formerly loved) ones? I’m convinced my ex (who I lived and cooked with for a year) is still eating the same foods I got him into. As much as I love gettin’ down and dirty with my food, I’m not much of a meatloaf person, namely because I don’t eat much red meat. Forgive me?

    This does seem, however, like an extremely cathartic recipe – all that kneading, leading to such a densely satisfying main course – seems like a labor of love, like any worthwhile relationship. Food CAN be poetic after all!

    • tyla says:

      So true about passing on the food…after the meatloaf he was like, “I want to try that really great lasagna” and I was like, “But, that’s MY lasagna!” Haha.

  • Jen says:

    My husband is a huge meatloaf person. As in, he would eat meatloaf every day. I was once listening to The Splendid Table and Lynne Rosetto Kasper (you have to say all 3 of her names when speaking about her) said to make meatloaf like a big meatball. So that’s what I do! I really like the idea of adding vinegar and ground pork to diversify the flavor. Thanks for sharing!

  • Twila says:

    MMMMMMM Meatloaf! Green Beans, smashed garlic potwatoes. All the comforts of home…or Starla’s home!

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