Through the Fire
We’ll start with this and just get it out of the way. I loved him!!
Several posts on Facebook recently ( such a source of material for me!) has led me to want some meatloaf. I went to my usual source, my personal chef colleagues, for some recipes and stories. It seems most people/families have a meatloaf memory, whether that is a horror/disaster story or a very fond comforting one. I heard about loaves that were like hockey pucks and tasted pretty bad. For many, meat loaf conjures up comfort. Recipes which feature all different kinds of meat, vegetables, swiss cheese, bacon, lentils. There are as many variations on basic loaf as there are cooks!
My mom didn’t make meatloaf. I think it was too plain for her and unfortunately, I think she deemed it too “low class”. Consequently, I hardly had meatloaf until I was an adult. I was a part of a crew of caregivers for an elderly couple in their 90’s. They loved meatloaf!! My fellow givers couldn’t believe I didn’t know how to make it. During this time, I was a vegetarian and making that meatloaf was kind of a disgusting challenge. Lentil loaf ? Now we are talking. LOL, now the situation is reversed. I can’t digest lentils at all well so it lost its appeal a long time ago. ( I will include a vegetarian recipe later as well as a link or two)
My mom did have a “party” meatloaf. She really did only make it for parties. She served it with those cocktail size slices of bread. She really knew how to give a good party. She and my dad would have a largish one a few times a year. Growing up, I loved helping her. Getting to get dressed up and stay up late, serving our friends = happy girl! As a young adult, I would look forward to helping her cook as well as the childhood chores. She had a myriad of her own eating/food issues and didn’t want her guests to over eat so while there was a beautiful variety of food, she calculated very carefully how much food and how many calories she wanted her guests to eat. It pretty much was one serving of this meatloaf and that was it. (hors d’ouevres size) Another recipe for another time is for her pecan tarts at Christmas time. Also delicious, and also handed out carefully. She allotted one per guest! After she died, I kept her recipes boxes so here is the cherished Party Meatloaf and the surprise ingredient of peanut butter. I have only made it once in the 5 years since she died but gasp!! I made it full size and ate it as a dinner entree!! oh the horror. It was delicious. Her recipe includes no instructions, so just mix all the ingredients, excepting the catsup and the horseradish, and form into what ever size loaves you like. Mix the catsup/ketchup and the horseradish and smear on top of the loaves.
Mom’s Party Meatloaf
3 1/2 lbs ground meat
1 beaten egg
2 cups milk
2 c. bread crumbs
6 T. minced onions
4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
4 T. peanut butter
1 1/2 T horseradish
1 1/2 T catsup
My friend, Nancy, now of Illinois!, shared her family meatloaf story. It’s a classic.
Soak 1 cup fine fresh bread crumbs in 1/3 cup whole milk in a bowl large enough to eventually hold all ingredients.
Chop 2 onions. Smash 3 cloves of garlic.Chop a rib of celery and a carrot. Saute them all in 2 tablespoons of butter until tender and wilted. Remove from heat and stir in 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, 1 tablespoon of cider vinegar, 1 ground allspice clove, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper. Add to bread-crumb mixture.
Grind 1/4 pound of bacon and 1/2 cup pitted prunes in a food processor, then add to onion mixture along with 1 1/2 pounds ground beef chuck, 3/4 pounds ground pork, 2 eggs and 1/3 cup chopped parsley Mix it together, gently, with your hands.
Pack mixture into an oval loaf in a 13- by 9-inch shallow baking dish or pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour and a quarter. Let stand 10 minutes
(or longer) before serving.