One weekend, my wife, all of the sudden, said, “I would like to make a meatloaf”, just like that. Although it is classic American home cooking, meatloaf does not have a stellar reputation. For many Americans, this is the dish you had as a kid but would prefer not to eat again as an adult. Many remember it as an unsophisticated dry chunk of ground meat that Mom made. My wife claims the meat loaf she ate was not like that. I am not sure what prompted my wife to suggest making a meatloaf, but I didn’t object because “come to think of it, I can post this in my blog”. So, I encouraged her to go ahead with her idea. I even provided her with a recipe I saw at “No Recipes” webpage by Marc Matsumoto. Interestingly this was dubbed as “best” but not “the best” meatloaf.
We made two loaves. So, we doubled the amount from the Marc’s original recipe listed below. In addition, she did not make the sauce (the last 4 ingredients) and instead, she used straight ketchup (since that was how she remembered the meatloaf from her childhood). For some crazy reason, rather than buying ground meat, I bought a 3 pound of beef shoulder roast with bone and pork butt roast (about 2 pounds) and hand chopped the meat. In retrospect, this was way too much work. We need a decent meat grinder.
- 1 pound ground beef
- 10 ounces ground pork
- 1/2 medium onion minced
- 2 cloves garlic finely minced
- 1/2 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
- 1.5 ounces Gruyere cheese grated
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup whole milk
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon pimentón smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper to taste
- 5 sprigs fresh thyme stems removed and minced
- 6 ounces thick-cut bacon
- 3 tablespoons ketchup
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- My wife added 1 tbs. of horseradish (because she said that was what was always added to the meat loaf she ate as a kid).
As per the recipe, instead of using a regular loaf pan, we made a free form loaf on a cookie sheet lined with a parchment paper, banded with thick cut bacon as you see below. My wife thought that the bacon was an overkill but she followed the recipe—It was certainly not part of the meatloaves from her childhood.
After cooking for 30 minutes in preheated 350F oven, she smeared ketchup on top and continued baking another 30 minutes (left in the above image). We let it sit for 10 minutes and moved the meatloaf to the cutting board (right in the above image). As you can see a good amount of juice and fat accumulated in the bottom of the pan.
I sliced it and served it with my wife’s mashed potato (cooked and mashed small red potatoes, rice vinegar, soy sauce and butter) and oven baked green beans.
The taste? Well, it is not bad at all. According to my wife, however, this is as good as what she remembered eating as a kid but not significantly better. That means either the meatloaf she ate as a kid was indeed a very good one or this one is not necessary the “best” meatloaf. Nevertheless, this was very satisfying. The loaf was not dry and the consistency is pleasantly crumbly with good favor from all the herbs and spices we put in. The all American Heinz ketchup smeared on top was just fine but did not caramelize as much as my wife thought it would. By the way, we did not eat the bacon and will not use it if we ever make meatloaf again.
To circumvent the ill effect of meatloaf and bacon drippings, we had a good young Napa Cabernet from Spring Mountain District. This is a classic Napa cab. Nice nose, good amount of ripe fruit upfront, smooth tannin, and reasonable finish. Nothing wrong about this wine, very youthful and clean. I will give 91.
P.S. We made sandwiches for weekday lunches with this meatloaf. It was very good as a sandwich too. It is also one of those dishes that gets better the next day. We also ate it for dinner as leftovers during the week. We had it one night with a catsup based sauce (mixture of catsup, Worcestershire sauce, red wine and Dijon mustard). And one night we had it with tonkatsu sauce with Japanese hot mustard which was also very good.