Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Loafing Around

So, yesterday I got a craving for one of those comfort foods that I grew up with. My Mom made meatloaf (wow! look at all those M's!) in the usual way of the Midwest and it was yummy. I never did remember to ask for her recipe. Now, I tried a few times over the years to make a meatloaf and usually just did that thing with the little packets of onion soup mix and ended up with overly salty onion flavored meat in loaf form. That was likely why I rarely craved meatloaf. Now that I am cooking again, I figured that I'd check out some basic recipes and then go from there with making it my way.

There are about 8 trillion 9 billion four thousand and twenty three meatloaf recipes on the interwebz. I settled on this one from Paula Dean to use as my starting point.

This beautiful Italian Style Meatloaf was the result.

The ingredients as altered by me from the Great PD recipe:

2 pounds excellent organic grass fed super lean ground beef from contented cows
1/2 t fresh cracked black pepper
4 goodly shakes of Tabasco sauce
4 cloves of garlic nicely minced
1 generous t oregano
2 t dried parsley (or some fresh finely chopped)
1/2 cup fresh ground Parmesan
1/2 of a red bell pepper, finely minced
2 Country Hen eggs, beaten a bit
1 can (15 oz) of diced tomatoes with onion - dump in a bowl and use a grabbing motion with your fingers to smush up the tomatoes a bit more
1 cup of oatmeal, regular - do not use steel cut, just regular Quaker Oats.

For the topping, I mixed 1 cup of ketchup (tried out that new Simply Heinz so I could avoid more of that fake food stuff I don't like to consume), 1 T brown sugar, and 2 T of brown mustard.

I love the directions for things like meatballs and meatloaf - put all the loaf ingredients in a bowl and use your fingers to squish it all together real well. Give it a sniff. Even un-cooked it should smell great. If there's not enough garlic or oregano add more. If it looks too dry, you could add a t or so of milk or buttermilk.

Shape into a loaf and put it in a large loaf pan. Mix up the topping and spread it over the loaf, then bake it at 375 for about 1 1/2 hours - you can check to see if it's done with a small slit in the center. If you used a regular pan and the loaf was too thick, it may need more time to cook. If your pan is too small, you may have to drain some juices before it's done, do it carefully so you don't let the topping slide off!

Hold the loaf in the pan with a well positioned spatula and drain off the juices into a container (gravy time!). Allow to sit in the pan for five minutes, then use two spatulas and lift onto a serving platter and set another five minutes. During the sitting time, make some gravy with the juices. Because I use extremely lean beef, I don't have excess fat and just have to heat up the juice with a little water added and put in some of that great Tony Chachere's Instant Roux in it - and voila! Gravy!

This must be served with mashed red potatoes, no arguments please.. There is a little more leeway on the second veggie, but this time we went with that midwest standard - corn.

Enjoy this comforting and very mindful hands-on food soon.

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