Sunday, May 23, 2010

Meat Loaf

There must be ten thousand good meat loaf recipes. Mine is unique only in a few ways, but I like it and I think you will too.

First the meat: a mélange of ½ pound of ground beef, ½ pound of ground pork and ½ pound of ground veal is certainly a winner. However, if your taste runs to all beef … cajole your butcher into grinding you 1 ½ pounds of beef neck meat. It’s the sweetest and tastiest of all the beef cuts. A German butcher in New York City put me onto this trick and I think he was the only man I was ever tempted to run away with.

Next make the meat extenders:
- Chop and sauté one medium Bermuda onion in good olive oil until mahogany in color … adding toward the end two minced garlic cloves or ½ teaspoon of garlic powder. Also add two big pinches of Kosher salt and two grinds of black pepper. Let cool.
- Cut the crusts off of two slices of sturdy white bread and dice into ½ inch cubes. Soak this bread along with seven or eight cut-up dried mushrooms (Polish is best) in enough milk to cover and let stand until all milk is absorbed..
- In a dry non-stick frying pan heat six generous marrowed bones, turning frequently until the marrow browns and starts to loosen from the bone. Cool and scoop out this marrow into a small bowl. Save the fat in the frying pan to make the meat loaf gravy.
- Whisk one large egg (two eggs if you like your meat loaf “tight”) in a bowl along with six`squirts of Lea and Perrins Worcestershire sauce, ½ teaspoon of dried thyme (or 1 teaspoon of fresh), two more pinches of Kosher salt and two more grinds of pepper.

Combine all the above with the meat in a large bowl and mix well with your impeccably clean hands. Butter the bottom and sides of a square oven-proof dish (rectangular is better) that fits into your toaster oven (or you can use your regular oven). Preheat this oven to 350 degrees. Place the meat mixture in this dish and flatten out the top. Put about ½ a bottle of Heinz’s chili sauce on top of this meat loaf and place it in the oven for about 45 minutes (alternate topping – cover with three thin slices of good Swiss cheese.)

Remove from the oven and let stand for about twenty minutes. Then pour off any fat and juices from around the sides of the meat loaf into the frying pan that cooked the marrow bones. Add an equal amount of flour or Wondra and heat until all the fat is absorbed and the flour is light tan. While still on the heat, add some good beef stock and stir well until this gravy reaches the consistency you prefer. Correct the salt and pepper seasoning, perhaps adding a bit of Magi and marjoram to your taste. Stir and heat further briefly.

Serve this meat loaf and gravy with mashed or escalloped potatoes and briefly-cooked fresh peas (with butter and a bit of chopped-up fresh mint). You might also enjoy a bit of prepared horseradish with your meat. Enjoy.

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