National Meatloaf Day

Dinner:  October 13, 2007

Until this weekend, I had never cooked meatloaf for my husband. He just wasn’t a fan, he said, having had too many experiences with dense, greasy versions. I love the stuff, but it’s hard to make a proper meatloaf for one person, so I went without. I satisfied my comfort food cravings in other ways, but I still pined for meatloaf, and especially for that most perfect use of leftover meatloaf ever, the cold meatloaf sandwich. From time to time I would suggest meatloaf for dinner, but my suggestions were always met with a less than enthusiastic response. But then came the meatballs, and things changed.

Meatballs aren’t exactly summer fare, but I found myself making big batches of them over the summer, tinkering with my recipe until I found a mix of meats and seasonings I was happy with. And Mike loved them. And then one day a couple of weeks ago, completely out of the blue, he told me he might be ready to try my meatloaf whenever I wanted to make it, because really, isn’t meatloaf just meatballs on a larger scale? I giddily agreed, and planned to work it into our menu for the coming week. But then we had that ridiculous spell of near-90 degree weather. And then came Mike’s birthday week, and special dinners to prepare, so the meatloaf was put off yet again.

But then, just when I was wondering if I would ever get to make my meatloaf, came the announcement: National Meatloaf Appreciation Day was coming, and the folks at Serious Eats were looking for people to share the love. No more excuses, I now had a reason to go forward and a date by which to do it. Saturday was the day – it was meatloaf or bust.

I took our remaining package of ground pastured veal from Bobolink out of the freezer to thaw on Friday night. I had picked up a package of grass-fed ground chuck after our dinner at Marlow and Sons on Friday, and I planned to pick up a package of ground pork from Flying Pigs during my Saturday morning Greenmarket trip, but they were sold out. I really wanted to do a beef/pork/veal mixture, and we don’t have anything resembling a meat grinder at home, so I had to come up with a Plan B. I perused their selection of sausages and grabbed a package of their herbed pork variety – seasoned with mustard, thyme, rosemary, sage and bay leaves, I thought it would work well. I picked up some potatoes, carrots and Brussels sprouts for sides and some mushrooms for my gravy and headed home to start cooking.

bread

We had a hunk of whole wheat pane integrale left from earlier in the week that I decided to turn into fresh breadcrumbs for the meatloaf. I cubed it and put it into the mini chopper, then pulsed it. And pulsed it. And pulsed it some more. Little was happening to the bread, and I could smell the chopper’s little motor beginning to burn, so I gave up, tipped the bread cubes out into a bowl and began tearing them into tiny pieces with my fingertips. It would have to do.

worcestershire

I moistened the breadcrumbs with a bit of water, then squeezed them dry and placed them into a large bowl. I peeled a smallish red onion, chunked it up and pulsed it in the mini chopper, then added that to the bowl. I added a tablespoon of Worcestershire, two teaspoons of tamari, a teaspoon each of dried marjoram and garlic powder, a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper, and an egg, which I beat lightly with a fork before blending it with the rest of the ingredients in the bowl.

wet ingredients + seasonings

I added the beef, pork sausage and veal to the wet ingredients, washed my hands well, then dug in and mixed it all up. I turned the mixture out onto a foil-lined sheet pan and formed it into a loaf, spreading a generous amount of Annie’s organic ketchup on top, then I placed it into a 400 degree oven. I’m not sure of the exact cooking time, but I would estimate it took about an hour and 15 minutes (I checked it periodically after 45 minutes in the oven, and let it continue cooking until its internal temperature was 160 degrees).

I worked on my sides while the meatloaf baked – German butterball potatoes, boiled with their skins on and smashed with a generous amount of butter, milk and cream; sliced carrots and halved Brussels sprouts, tossed with salt and olive oil and roasted until tender; and a mushroom gravy made with criminis sautéed in butter, a bit of flour, and our rich homemade brown chicken stock. When everything was ready I plated it up and served it, holding my breath while Mike took his first bite.

The verdict? It was good. “Really good,” in fact. So good that he said he’d eat it again. My days of pining for meatloaf are over, though wouldn’t you know it – we ran out of bread, so that most perfect of leftovers, the cold meatloaf sandwich, will have to wait.

11 thoughts on “National Meatloaf Day

  1. perfection. love the whole thing. love love love it. i swear jennifer, you are the best cook out there in the blogosphere. hands down. now – don’t go thanking me like you always do. i’m not a smiley face, sweet kinda complenter. your food is friggin awesome. you should be a personal chef at the very least… i know someone in nyc who does it and makes over 100k a year!

    anyway – i know you cook because you love it. but this has got be your calling…

  2. Oh, man.

    I love my meatloaf recipe (coming soon!) with such a passion that I have never been tempted by another. Until now.. you had me at the mushroom gravy.

  3. Sally says:

    Jennifer, what a great looking meatloaf! I can understand why your husband would want more.. :-)

    Not being a blogger, I had no idea of Meatloaf Day or anything remotely like it… but, guess what? I just made meatloaf yesterday!

    I don t think I’ve ever used the same recipe twice, and to be honest, I don t think I’ve ever followed a precise recipe for it, but yesterday I happen to include in my meatloaf something I had in the freezer – caramelized onions!

    it was awesome!

    for the meatloaf lovers out there, try it sometime…

  4. Now that’s a beautiful meatloaf. My husband makes a great meatloaf himself (he’s also the meatball wizard in our house) but I never ever thought of making mushroom gravy to put on top. I think we’ll have to try that!

  5. Jennifer Hess says:

    Wow, everyone – who knew a humble meatloaf would get such a big response? Thanks for all of your comments and compliments!

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