I hate meatloaf. Hate upon hate upon hate. When I think of meatloaf, I think of the dry, strange meatloaf from my youth (sorry, Mom). Meatloaf is Public Enemy #2 in my kitchen, right there behind cilantro.
The sad thing is, Jack loves it. We were out at a popular sandwich place in NY a few weeks back, and Jack was deciding between a chicken cutlet sandwich or a meatloaf sandwich.
"Which should I get," he asked me, while staring up at the board. "Meatloaf or Chicken Cutlet?"
"MEATLOAF?!" I exclaimed. "That's disgusting. Chicken cutlet." The Italian in me would never let Jack pass up a chicken cutlet sandwich. Especially because I was getting a salad and I wanted a bite.
Jack looked at me incredulously. "I love meatloaf," he defended. But as a good boyfriend, he got the chicken cutlet.
Fast forward to a few weeks later. I was in my kitchen, trying to decide what to make for dinner. I wanted to make something simple and delicious, and I was stumped. I opened up some of my favorite recipe sites for some inspiration. There, on the first page, was a large picture of meatloaf. I clicked right past it, not even giving it a moments thought. Then, I stopped myself from clicking any further.
Let me try the meatloaf, I thought to myself. It'll make Jack's night.
The meatloaf is a delicious combination of pork, veal, and beef flavored by a sauteed mix of celery, carrots and onions, robust garlic, (or as we in the food world like to say, a mirepoix) Worcestershire sauce (I love saying that word), cider vinegar, spicy cloves, plenty of freshly ground black pepper, and parsley. Prunes and bacon are also listed in the recipe, but I left them out. The last time I made Jack something with prunes in it he almost spit it out, and I forgot the bacon.
I served it alongside mashed potatoes, but I did something along the way that made them go beyond mashed and turned them ultra-creamy and dense. I almost threw out the mixture, but it was actually delicious. I have no idea what I did. I boiled the potatoes for an hour, peeled them, put them in my food processor (I like to do that to get very creamy mashed potatoes) and processed with some milk and salt. I must have processed way too long, but I loved the outcome.
When it was time to serve dinner, Jack still had no idea what I was making. When I put down the plate above on the table, he almost jumped for joy. When he tasted it, he did jump for joy. Then I tasted the smallest piece, wondering if this was any good.
Not only was it good, it was delicious. It was out of this world. And not, I wish I could throw this meatloaf into outer space out of this world. It was out of this world good.
Maybe I'm a meatloaf convert?
Maybe only with this meatloaf.
The Best Meatloaf Ever adapted from Epicurious
- 1 cup fine fresh bread crumbs (from 2 slices firm white sandwich bread)
- 1/3 cup whole milk
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 medium celery rib, finely chopped
- 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
- 2 pounds ground mix beef chuck, pork, and veal
- 2 large eggs
- 1/3 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.
Soak bread crumbs in milk in a large bowl.
Meanwhile, cook onion, garlic, celery, and carrot in butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Cover skillet and reduce heat to low, then cook until carrot is tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, allspice, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper. Add to bread-crumb mixture.
Finely chop bacon and prunes in a food processor, then add to onion mixture along with beef, pork, eggs, and parsley and mix together with your hands.
Pack mixture into a 9- by 5-inch oval loaf in a 13- by 9-inch shallow baking dish or pan.
Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into center of meatloaf registers 155°F, 1 to 1 1/4 hours. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.