Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The best meatloaf you will never make!

Ok, ok, I know that’s a stupid title. If you read this you’ll understand that my aim here is to remain the lovable didact I have become later in life.

My mantra is, “Be Creative.” I hardly ever cook something that doesn’t include some leftover item from a meal a day or two before. Also, we check out the “Manager’s Specials” at Safeway every time we shop. That’s where you will find meat, chicken, sausage, etc. that is at or 1 day away from its sale date. Never have I gotten home to find these items unusable – they seem perfectly fresh.

I debated consulting “Joy of Cooking” before starting assembly of the meatloaf. But I was short of time and knew exactly what stuff was in the fridge and freezer. The proportions were guesswork. Shopped for items: green bell pepper and an onion.

The most unusual part of the recipe involves the leftover milanesa. I don’t think I got the oil hot enough last night and it ended up kind of tough and, worse, greasy.

It’s not often that I want to overeat. However, this is the best meatloaf I ever ate in my life. And that’s saying something given how often my mother made it and the times we’ve cooked it, and the times I’ve had it at a diner.

I’m sorry, but you will find it impossible to reproduce this. You can, however, make your own version. More or less ketchup, W-sauce, etc., or garlic, onion, green pepper. All negotiable. Bear in mind that what I put together just fit the loaf pan – no room for more meat.

The best meatloaf you will never make! (6 servings)
1 tbsp olive oil
½ medium onion, finely chopped
½ green bell pepper, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1.25 lb pork “country” ribs (boneless, trimmed of fat)
2 bratwurst, casing removed
5 oz leftover beef milanesa, breading scraped off and saved
2 eggs, lightly beaten
¼ cup homemade bread crumbs
1/4 cup half-and-half
2 tablespooons ketchup
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp barbeque sauce (commercial bottled)
2 tsp liquid smoke
salt and black pepper
3 slices thick-cut bacon
boiling water

Preheat the oven to 350°. Place a rack in the middle position. Boil some water in the teakettle.
Heat the oil in a sauté pan and sweat the onion, pepper and garlic for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Grind the 3 meats via your stand mixer or food processor. Get it fairly fine (judgment call). Put the meat in a large bowl.

In a smaller bowl combine the egg, bread crumbs and half-and-half.

Add ketchup, W-sauce, bbq sauce, liquid smoke, and salt and pepper to the meat. Add both the onion mix and the egg mix and the breading from the milanesa. Use your hands and squish it all together. Be thorough.

Put it into a greased loaf pan (size: the width will be exactly that of ½ a slice of bacon). Cut bacon slices in half across and lay on top of the meatloaf. Press it in a bit.

Place the loaf pan on a baking sheet with 1” sides. Place in the oven and pour boiling water around it. 1/3 of an inch is plenty.

Bake for 1 ¼ hours or until a thermometer registers 155°. I use an electronic probe that sends updated temp readings to a receiver in the TV room where I’m usually watching “Jeopardy.”

Remove from the oven and let stand uncovered for 10-15 minutes. If you then cut slabs the thickness of the bacon slices you’ll get 6 portions.

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