My mother is a natural cook, and one that takes great pride in cooking for her family. With an old school stack of note card boxes next to the stove top, each crammed with handwritten recipes organized in an order she could only determine, she provided both comfort and variety as they rotated across our table for decades.
Throughout the years, you would witness the obvious patterns of rotation with certain meals becoming mainstays for long stretches of time. We still talk (and sometimes joke) about them to this day. However, as time moved on, a special series of meals began to develop that created a rotation of their own, a guaranteed system of getting her children to visit on a somewhat regular basis. It was a win for all of us and they provide some of our fondest memories. One of my favorite from this list is her meatloaf.
I’m not sure why meatloaf had such a bad rap when I was a kid. It seemed like all of my classmates hated it. It was grouped in with other undesirables like liver or anything being served with brussels sprouts. A Christmas Story only solidified its placement with such a crowd. However, that never made sense to me. Who didn’t like hamburgers as a kid, and if you liked hamburgers, how can you dislike something so similar with a delicious glaze on top? Furthermore, you could take the leftovers and actually make a sandwich very similar to a hamburger the next day.
Jane and I moved into a new house in early December, and after a week or two of getting settled, we were eager to cook and serve a proper meal for a few guests. With her birthday approaching, I thought it would be an opportune time to make something for her and her family to celebrate. She had mentioned meatloaf a few times over the previous months, and with the approaching holidays reminding me of times with my family, it provided me the chance to extend the cycle once more. It also allowed me to make delicious sliders the next day for lunch.
2 tbsp unsalted butter
2 medium shallots, sliced
1 tbsp of olive oil
1 medium white onion, finely diced
1 medium carrot, peeled and diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup plain dry bread crumbs
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
1.5 tsp chopped sage
1 tsp finely chopped thyme
1 tbsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp of freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Pinch of smoked paprika
3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 slices of thick cut bacon
1 pound ground veal
1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 pound ground lamb
Olive oil, for brushing
1 bottle of dry red wine
1 cup sugar
1 can of chopped tomatoes
3 tsp unsulphured molasses
1/2 tsp of ground allspice
Pinch of cayenne pepper, ground
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Using a large sauté pan, caramelized the shallots at a medium-low heat until brown but not crisp, remove and set aside.
Using the same pan, add oil and increase the heat to medium-high. Cook the carrots and onions until soft, approx 10 minutes. Add garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Set aside with shallots and allow to cool while you prepare the meatloaf mix. You will combine everything at the end.
Combine milk, breadcrumbs, and eggs to a large mixing bowl, stirring until combined, making almost a thick batter. Add parsley, sage, thyme, parmesan, salt, and spices to mix and stir until thoroughly combined. By this time the onions, carrots, garlic, and shallots mix will have cooled enough to add and combine as well.
Break up the ground meats and chopped bacon and add to the bowl, mixing as you go until evenly combined. I find that using your hands are the best method.
Brush 9×5 loaf pan with oil and add meatloaf mix, forming into shape without packing too firmly, just enough to hold together.
Bake for one hour until firm but not entirely cooked through.
During this time, prepare the glaze in a medium sized sauce pan by adding wine, sugar, molasses, chopped tomatoes, allspice, cayenne, and rosemary. Bring to boil over medium heat while stirring to melt the sugar. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and stir occasionally until reduced to a thick glaze, approx 30 minutes. Remove from heat and discard the sprig of rosemary.
When the meatloaf has cooked for 1 hour, remove from oven**, and brush a thick layer of glaze over the top. Return it to the oven and bake for another 15 minutes. Repeat this step once more by removing, brushing the top and baking for a final 15 minutes.
Remove the meatloaf from the oven and rest for approx 15 minutes, slice and then serve with the leftover glaze to use as a dipping sauce.
**The meatloaf will start to shrink in the pan and that’s to be expected. I use that to my advantage in order to drain some of the fat that has rendered at the bottom of the loaf pan. I tilt the pan to drain each time I remove the meatloaf from the oven. It keeps the bottom of the loaf from getting too soggy. If using a throwaway aluminum foil loaf pan, you can poke a hole in one of the bottom corners to drain as it bakes. Just make sure you have something to catch it.