Who doesn’t like a good meatloaf? Not many people I know. Meatloaf like this tastes of the fifities, like the meatloaf Ralphie digs into after his mom saves his ass from his dad for cussing and beating the crap out of Scut Finkus in A Christmas Story. This has American comfort food written all over it, and if you dare to make it for guests, which seems like a social or foodie faux pas, they will swear that you’re genius. Foodies can piss off.
It follows that, since I started this blog in late October, I would necessarily be writing about some serious autumn/ winter dishes.
If you have been raised in the U.S. in the last sixty years, you probably, not definitely, have run across this book:
My mom had this with stained pages, the three-ring binder holes repaired so many times that great care had to be taken to leaf through it. My wife’s grandma still has one from the fifties, with notes and all. It’s a treasure. I read it everytime I get a chance just to see appetizer recipes about meat submerged in jelly. Jesus.
In any case, this book can be had at any Target or online bookstore, and it is the quintessential book in terms of American cooking. It has everything. The meatloaf recipe in here just tickles the nether regions, no doubt about it. My meatloaf is based on this.
The beauty of meatloaf is that, obviously, it’s a loaf o’ meat, which means you can put anything in it with some forethought of what flavors sound good to you, and you’ll get a creation with your stamp on it. The more you talk to people about their meatloaf, the more you will realize the variety in what people do. That’s the beauty of it. Everyone has their own style.
You like cilantro? Do it. You like rolled oats in it instead of breadcrumbs, like my mom did? Do it. You like a few hard boiled eggs stuffed in the middle, Italian style and topped with marinara? Do it.
Me? I like the fifties tasting one. So, here goes, and it’s based off of the recipe in the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook.
Good Ol’ Meatloaf
1 lb. ground beef, 90% or fattier, not leaner
1/2 lb. sausage of some sort without casings (not pre-cooked sausage)
2 beaten eggs
1/2 to 3/4 cup milk
2/3 cup dried bread crumbs or 2 cups fresh breadcrumbs (see note below)
1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup diced onion
2 tsp. dried parsely or 2 tbsp. fresh chopped parsely
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 tsp. oregano, crushed
Topping (you’ll need 2 portions of this)
1/4 cup ketchup
1 tsp. dried mustard
2 tbsp. packed brown sugar
Preheat the oven to 375°.
In a big bowl, mix together the eggs, milk, bread crumbs, Worcestershire sauce, onion, parsely, salt, pepper, and oregano.
(*Note about the breadcrumbs: I used two Thomas’s English muffins crumbed in a food processor tonight and the result was a moist, juicy you-know-what. White bread works too. Wing it if you need to. Normally, I use the dried bread crumbs, and I use enough to where the meat mixture is still wet, almost too wet to what you think should be normal, but this is what you want. The wet meat mixture makes a moist meatloaf.)
Add in the meat. Wash your hands. Look at the bowl again. Wash your hands. Contemplate why Hamlet delays killing Claudius, and then wash your hands again. And now for the fun…
Mix this meat mixture with one hand until you can’t possibly mix it anymore. In other words, mix this puppy up until you have a meat glove on you.
Then, transfer this into a loaf pan and pat it evenly into the pan. When you’re done, it should look like this:
In a small bowl, mix together the ketchup, mustard, and brown sugar. Smear that over the top of this so it looks like this:
Put this in the oven for about 70 minutes.
After the 70 minutes, take it out of the oven and get rid of the fat pooling on top of it (usually in the corners), either by spooning it off or pouring it off, being careful not to burn yourself.
After, make the other portion of the ketchup mixture (ketchup, mustard, brown sugar), and layer it on there. Put it back into the oven for 10 minutes. You will get this:
Let it rest for at least ten minutes. You can serve it from the loaf pan, of course. I usually transfer it to a plate and slice it to serve. You’ll get this:
And with some mashed potatoes and green beans, you’ll get this:
Leftovers are unreal as the flavors all sort of get together and party through the night in the fridge. If you want gravy, make some. We usually skip it because it’s good enough on its own.
Drinks! A red. My wife, who is an office manager of a farm, brought home a Santa Ynez Cabernet Sauvignon called Three Saints given to her from her grower. I’ve never seen it, but it’s damn good. Dry, but needs to hang out a while and get its youthful edge out of it.
And that’s that.
Until later, eat, drink, and peace out.
©Jon Marino, 2012