There are a few cooking posts that have been languishing in my drafts that are just dying to debut themselves.
Anyway, I thought I'd fit in my long, slow-cooking dishes before it actually gets warm (winter has been dragging its feet a bit). So I pulled out my favorite recipe for meatloaf from Cook's Illustrated.
I know, meatloaf gets a bad rap. People have icky thoughts about it. But this stuff is good. Really really good. It's a combo of beef and pork for balance (all beef can be too strong, all pork can be too sweet and soft), *gently* mixed with various aromatics (gentle mixing is the key, otherwise you end up with concrete), wrapped in BACON (I mean, come on), and drenched in a sweet sour sauce. Enough talk, let's move onto the action.
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated
Brown Sugar - Ketchup Glaze
- 1/2 cup ketchup or chili sauce
- 4 tablespoons brown sugar
- 4 teaspoons cider vinegar or white vinegar
- 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped medium
- 2 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
- 1/2 cup whole milk or plain yogurt
- 1 pound ground beef chuck
- 1 pound ground pork (the original recipe calls for 1/2 lb ground pork and 1/2 lb ground veal, but I had a 1 lb package of ground pork so there you go--I've made it with the veal combo before and that is delicious as well)
- 2/3 cup Saltine crackers , crushed (about 16), or quick oatmeal, or 1 1/3 cups fresh bread crumbs (I used the quick oatmeal)
- 1/3 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
- 6 - 8 ounces bacon , thin sliced (8 to 12 slices, depending on loaf shape) (I used pancetta for various reasons not worth going into, but actually I prefer the bacon--I missed the smokiness)
Mix all the glaze ingredients into a small saucepan; set aside. See? I told you it was going to be rough. (You'll heat the glaze later, if you're wondering why you need the saucepan.)
Now, ze meatloaf. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prep your onion and garlic.
Heat the oil in a medium skillet and put the garlic/onion in there. Cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Take off heat and set aside.
In a medium bowl, mix together the eggs, salt, pepper, thyme, milk or yogurt, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and hot pepper sauce. You will get this lovely mixture:
I know, pretty. Makes you want to suck it down with a straw, eh?
In a large bowl, crumble up your meat.
Add the cooked onion/garlic mixture, egg mixture, oatmeal and parsley to the meat. Mix to combine, but be as gentle as possible and stop once as things are fairly uniformly incorporated. A light hand leaves enough air pockets so that your meatloaf will turn out light, instead of like a super dense brick.
Line a baking pan with sides with aluminum foil (I have this baking sheet but turned up the sides a lot on the foil--the meatloaf lets off a good amount of fat). Dump the meatloaf mixture onto the sheet and shape into a 9 x 5 inch loaf. If it's not perfect, toss in the trash. I'm kidding.
Brush half off glaze mixture over the meatloaf. Lay the strips of bacon crosswise on loaf, with each slice slightly overlapping. Tuck in the end of the bacon under the meatloaf.
I stuck it in the oven first before remembering that I needed to take a picture. So here is a 2-minute baked meatloaf. So appetizing.
Bake for about 1 hour. Remove meatloaf from oven, cool at least 20 minutes.
Simmer the remaining glaze and then brush that lusciousness over your big, bad, naughty meatloaf.
So I don't have the greatest pictures of it sliced up, because it is quite tender, but here it is with polenta and broccoli rabe.