First—a confession. I had a bit of a cooking disaster last weekend that resulted in me not posting my weekly recipe as it needs a bit more work. Crab and Shrimp Mornay was the dish, and the Mornay sauce did not work like I wanted because I started out with the wrong recipe as a basis. As a result, I wasted about $12 of fresh backfin crabmeat. I’ll do a little more research and have it figured out later this winter for publication.
Now, as to this evening’s dish--having spent the day after Thanksgiving avoiding the malls, I instead spent the afternoon working at the local theater on the set I’m building for Agatha Christie’s play “The Mousetrap.” By five PM I was tired and didn’t want to face two or three hours prepping and cooking a dish. Pat suggested a nice meatloaf and a quick run by the local grocery on the way home from the theater yielded the fresh ground beef necessary for the dish.
A quick check of the Food Network website yielded Emeril’s “Most Kicked Up Meatloaf Ever.” I made some modifications based on having dried spices rather than fresh, and instead of using butter I cooked the vegetables in bacon drippings left over from brunch this morning. The modified ingredient listing, making enough for four to six people, looked like this:
3 tablespoons bacon drippings
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 rib celery, finely chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/3 cup ketchup, plus 1/4 cup
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup Heavy cream
1/2 cup Breadcrumbs
1-1/4 pound ground chuck (try 90% lean—I used 80% and it was too greasy)
1/3 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoons plus 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Three or four medium potatoes, quartered
1 6oz jar green giant button mushrooms
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 cup canned tomatoes, chopped or crushed
In a large heavy skillet, heat the bacon dripping over medium heat. Add all but about 4 tbsp of the chopped onion, the celery, and all but 2 tbsp of the bell pepper to the skillet and cook until they soften, about 5 minutes or so.
Add one tsp garlic, the thyme, rosemary, and the parsley and cook an additional 2 minutes. Set skillet aside to cool. Preheat your oven to 350 deg F.
Redneck Tip: Tilt your skillet slightly and spoon off any extra bacon grease that you can.
In a large mixing bowl, transfer the cooled vegetable mixture and add the eggs, the mustard, 1/3 cup of ketchup, the Worcestershire sauce, the cream, and mix well. Then add the breadcrumbs, ground chuck, salt, and pepper. Mix until everything is uniformly combined (no dry spots,) but don’t over mix.
Turn the whole blob out into a greased oval corningware casserole dish (I used an oval, 3” deep dish,) shape into a loaf with your hands, and place the potatoes in the gap between the sides of the loaf and the dish.
In a small saucepan, combine the rest of the onion, garlic, the red bell pepper, ¼ cup ketchup, the red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, and canned tomatoes. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium high heat and simmer for a few minutes to reduce slightly. Pour the mixture over the top of the meatloaf, sprinkle the button mushrooms on top of that, smooth out with a spoon, and toss the whole thing in the oven for 60 to 75 minutes.
Redneck Tip: At the hour mark, start checking every five minutes or so because you don’t want to burn the top of the loaf.
When you think it is done, turn off the oven and take the meatloaf out and set on a rack to cool for ten minutes or so. Put your plates in the oven for a minute to warm.
Since it is in season and cheep, I steamed some fresh asparagus in a double boiler while the meatloaf was cooling.
When the loaf has cooled a bit, put your warmed plates on chargers, slice the loaf, spoon out some of everything onto your plates, and serve with your asparagus or other vegetable on the side. No ketchup required!
The Redneck Gourmet
Update: November 28, 2004
This dish reheats in the oven very well and tastes even better the second time than the first night. I simply removed the leftover meatloaf from the refrigerator and let it set for a half hour at room temperature, preheated the oven to 300 deg F, poured a half can of beef broth over it, and reheated for twenty minutes. Yum.
Also, I used Russet potatoes which are better cooked whole as baking potatoes. Next time I'll use new red potatoes which would have been much better. There is a whole posting that I need to write on potatoes and other vegetables. Look for it in the future.