COOKING ADVENTURE #66: Epic Meatloaf
Two weeks. I’ve been waiting two weeks to make this damn meatloaf. This heavenly concoction wrapped in celestial bacon, and coated in a divine ketchup brown sugar glaze has been on my mind day and night. And while I underwent my search for a new vehicle, I kept hoping that I’d be lucky enough to have some time here to get groceries and time there to actually make the meatloaf. Well, finally tonight, my time came. And the finished product didn’t disappoint one bit. I allowed it to bake as I tuned into the live coverage of the manhunt for the last suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings. It was a tense, edge of your seat evening in more ways than one. I’m just glad that everything turned out okay in the end. As the crowds in Boston cheered as the suspect was apprehended alive, I, too, cheered as my meatloaf came out of the oven looking like the best thing I’d seen all week (besides my new car, of course.)
It was Monday that I was finally able to get to the grocery store and shop after a day of testing out car possibilities. I tested everything from a ritzy Saab with all the bells and whistles imaginable (including headlight wipers, heated seats, and dual climate control) to a plain jane Hyundai that reminded me too much of my Kia, and a zippy fun little Mini Cooper that I probably had way too much fun driving on the back roads of Wiscasset. But, in the end my heart bonded with the fuel efficient, comfortable, and reliable Nissan Versa which in the end took up the latest title of IZZE 4.
I got home from work this evening, after a smooth pleasant drive, checked my mail, found an email from an obnoxious salvage yard that had called me eight times at work earlier. After deleting that, I moved over to facebook. It was here that I learned about the manhunt currently in progress and that the suspect had been sighted in Watertown, Massachusetts Following a link to a live broadcast of the situation, I sat enthralled for a time before I turned my attention back to the meatloaf calling my name from the future. The recipe for this comes from the Pioneer Woman’s blog and can be found here.
I turned the oven up to 350 to preheat and then started with something I hadn’t expected to go into the meatloaf… bread. The recipe originally calls for six slices of white bread (sandwich size) to be soaked in 1 cup of milk. I didn’t have as much hamburger meat for the recipe (only a pound, the recipe calls for 2). So I used 4 pieces instead of my usual sandwich bread… which is about half the size of a regular slice and soaked it in about 1/2 cup of milk. The bowl I was using is a glass measuring cup/bowl… I guess we’ll call it a measuring bup. Anyway, it’s tapered at the bottom and gets wider at the top. So, I couldn’t quite let the bread soak evenly. I had to take a spoon to it and mix everything up… which in turn, mushed up the bread and shredded it. Oh well. It was going to get torn up in a few minutes anyway.
Next, the recipe calls for you to add the hamburger meat to the soaking bread. I pulled it out of the fridge and looked at it. The meat had begun to take on a grayish brownish tinge. Now… this had me a little worried. I checked the sell by date and was disheartened to see that it was the 16th… Tuesday. I had about a good five seconds of consideration before I decided to rip open the package and smell it… just to be sure. And I was surprised to discover that it didn’t smell bad at all. I searched online, wanting to make extra sure that I wasn’t going to double over and die of food poisoning if I went ahead and used the meat. Apparently the turning grayish brown on the outside is just a result of oxidation. The inside was still pink. Every website said that it was okay as long as it didn’t have a bad smell and the inside wasn’t grey. Good enough for me. I ripped the meat piece by piece and threw it into the bread milk mixture. Then, I added the various spices… which I didn’t measure. If we want to get technical about it… 3/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. seasoned salt, a few dashes of black pepper, and some crinkled dehydrated parsley… which has been sitting in my refrigerator’s bottom storage area since the Tabouli Predica-Mint.
Then, I took my spoon and mashed everything together for a few minutes. The original recipe also calls for parmesan but I hadn’t bought any and I had nothing to substitute. I grabbed a separate bowl to crack a couple eggs into. Except when I cracked the first one, I ended up doing it into the bowl with the meat and bread. I nearly facepalmed as I tried to scoop the yolk out with a spoon and plopped it into the other bowl. Then after cracking the second egg into it, I whisked them until they were blended and dumped them into the meat/bread/spice bowl. The recipe says to mix it all together with your hands. Sorry. No. I used a spoon. Call me lazy but after standing and sizing racks of clothes all day and fighting off multiple persistent auto salvage secretaries all day, I didn’t want to stick my fingers in some eggy meat goo. It didn’t much matter what I wanted though because a few minutes after I’d finished mixing everything together with a spoon, I realized I’d have to get my fingers in it anyway in order to shape it into a loaf. Drat.
I pulled a baking pan out from the cupboard and lined it with tinfoil. Then, I scooped all of the meat mixture out onto it and precariously poked, prodded, and smooshed it until it looked like a meatloaf. Now was the time for the best ingredient of all to make its appearance; bacon. I pulled out my bacon and realized within seconds of sliding a piece out that I’d made an error. The bacon I had was pre-cooked. I was supposed to use raw so that I could actually wrap it around the loaf. Damn. I bent the bacon as much as I could and tucked it in underneath. I got to the middle when I realized I only had one piece left. I placed it in the middle of the other half and suddenly, my meatloaf looked indecent. Had I the energy to run to the store and buy more bacon, I probably would have. But I didn’t.
Now it was time to make the glaze to go on top. In a bowl, I squeezed some ketchup, some dijon mustard from a bottle that’s plastic seal wouldn’t come off without needle-nose pliers, and some brown sugar which was chunky and didn’t mix well. I kept adding various amounts of each until I had what I felt like was enough to coat the top and sides of the meat loaf. The original recipe calls for making a lot of this stuff… its almost as if you could make five meat loafs with it. I took a spoon and scooped it onto the loaf, then spread it around until I felt it was evenly coated. Into the oven it finally went… for an hour. ;(
This hour was well-spent though. After finishing the dishes, I once again tuned into the drama that was unfolding over the live broadcast about the police cornering the suspect on a boat in someone’s yard in Watertown. I even got really into it by checking out the Twitter feeds about it as they came up. It was definitely a tense hour, listening to what the police were doing and all the while hoping that nothing else bad happened. And like I said above, when it was announced that the suspect was in custody, the dinger in my kitchen went off to signal that the meatloaf was finally done.
It was a beautiful sight. That liquid bronze finish over the top and a scent so intoxicating it would make you forget your place in space and time as you know it. And if that’s just how it smelled, you should have tasted it. It was everything I could have hoped for and more. The only thing that I think would have made it better would have been some onions in it for crunch… and some mashed potatoes to go with it like the author of the recipe suggested. This was a fantastic recipe, one that I know I’ll be returning to on nights when I need the perfect comfort food, something that will remind me of triumph in the face of adversity. Mmm-mmm. However, the moment I decided to transfer it from one piece of tinfoil to another, there arose the problem of scraping it from the bottom of the first. And when some of the bottom came off, it appeared like a giant Madagascar hissing cockroach as I precariously balanced it on a knife to move it. I’ll work on that method some more.
Next week on Cooking Adventures, I’ll be attempting a recipe that a friend at work told me about recently. This recipe has boocoo garlic… that means it has a potential to be a favorite. And, it did smell pretty amazing when she had it day after day as lunch at work. Oh yes. I’m excited about this. Garlic Chicken Sausage Pasta with Steamed Asparagus is next week! Stay tuned!