I have been asked, dogged, for my recipe for meatloaf. Here's the guilty secret: I don't have one. But I made it last night and tried to stay fully present and not go into the cooking zone, so as to remember what I put into it and how I make it.
Meatloaf, comfort food of the kings. My read on meatloaf is a soft, seamless texture that holds shape and has flavor, snaps of flavor. So I get 2 lbs of ground sirloin and put in in the mixing bowl. This is a superstition of sorts, a Bellemaison superstition, and it's important to me: maybe it's the secret to the meatloaf that is Boeuf de Bellemaison? I use one bowl; it's a one bowl deal. I slide the ground sirloin up the side of said bowl, crack in two eggs and beat them with a fork into a unified force; I then add non-fat milk, a fair amount, and continue beating until the mixture has absorbed itself and you now do not have just milk or just egg. I slide the meat back down into the bowl and this said pretty yellow liquid should just about cover the 2 lbs of ground sirloin. Told you this was precise. I then slide the meat back up and began to add the spices. I start with salt and pepper. Start with pepper actually because I like the smell. Currently, I am using Costco's ground your own, as it's quite nice and I like the way the grinder operates. I am using their sea salt grinder, too, same reason. I then grind in some of their dried garlic, which the jury is still out on and give it a good smell. It should be nice and full, but not fragrant. That's coming up.
I then get out the celery salt, thyme and dehydrated onion. Typically, I do not cook with anything but fresh, but for meatloaf I use the dehydrates because I like the texture I get with them. The fresh doesn't get it fine enough for me and adds a little moisture that I need to suck up with a few more bread crumbs, which soak up my flavor that I have just meticulously constructed. I know you see where this is going. But I lay in the celery salt, thyme and dehydrated onion, mix it in the liquid only and then smell deeply. NOW it should be quite fragrant. If it smells overpowering in one direction or another, drop back and reformulate in small amounts. But you're on a thin edge here and you have to go slow to get back. But when you're back,you'll know right away. It smells really good. Finally, I finish with Progresso Italian Bread Crumbs. I have tried everything and nothing gives me the texture without screwing up the flavor like the store bought bread crumbs. If it will give the result I want, I am willing to take short cuts. You use enough bread crumbs to let the whole thing absorb the milk and be shapable, but not two tablespoons more. If you are generous with the bread crumbs, they will jump right in, drink the milk and the meatloaf will be dry. Not only that, they will take all the flavor as they suck up the moisture. They are greedy, but necessary, those little bread crumbs.
You mix the whole thing gently with a fork, until a soft/firm consistency is achieved.
I divide it in two, pat it with a fork into a sprayed meatloaf pan, into little oblong mounds. I create a slope in case there might be an obscure gram of fat anywhere that needs to run off to the bottom of the pan. Then, here is the really hart part. If you thought dehydrated garlic and onion were humbling, hear this: ketchup is the next ingredient. True! I carefully lather the top in ketchup, avoiding the sides because the excess will run down. After that odious but necessary chore is done, I generously sprinkle finely grated parmesan everywhere. Yeah, this is the really good part. That ketchup makes tang but the parmesan gives it such a nice flavor which creates a superb edge. With the thyme and the celery, it's alchemy. You now know everything except the PIN. And you don't really need that now that you know how to make meatloaf.
I bake it 350 degrees for about an hour and a half; the top will brown up slowly, but nicely and then bring it out to sit for 10 minutes. I go with fall/winter squash, orange or gold on the side and baked potatoes, too. There are people that eat here sometimes that demand coleslaw, too. I go with the salty, non-sweet, really crunchy kind. Medium shred cabbage, finely grated onion, Best Foods about 2-3 tablespoons, 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice and salt and pepper like crazy. Let it sit for 6 hours.
They like this meal around here and so my monarchy remains intact. This is just one of the guilty pleasures that are relished behind closed doors at Bellemaison.
Today I am making Orangette's banana/sour cream cake with coconut frosting. Let the homefires roar!
The 'Kan EWA