Growing up in the 50's made for a wonderful decade of comfort foods, and on the top of the list, naturally, is meatloaf. Meatloaf is a versatile dish, you can add just about anything and call it 'Meatloaf Surprise,' as my sister-in-law did when she added beets, which turned out not to be such a great idea as the presentation left a lot to be desired. And thanks to the Industrial Revolution in the 19th Century, which made it possible for ground meat to be manufactured and sold, we were able to create several variations of this wonderful invention. Although it's not known for sure who exactly came up with the specific idea of a "meatloaf," it was introduced shortly thereafter in cookbooks and veal was the primary meat used to make it until the 1950's when it came popularized by diners calling it meatloaf and gravy, using hamburger, and siding it with mashed potatoes and string beans. In any event, I've taken my mother's simple version of the homespun recipe and jazzed it up a bit. What's especially nice about this concoction is that you can make 4 mini meat loaves out of it as I did. My husband and I are empty nesters and he's always complaining that I make too much food. I've been experimenting with tried and true recipes lately and downsizing them to satisfy one or two people and not have leftovers for the rest of the year, although it is difficult after cooking for a large family for so long. In any event, I bought these mini pans to make small loaves of bread but found they are quite multi-functional and especially condusive to a busy lifestyle, single people, or a couple. All you have to do is take it out of the freezer in the morning, let it thaw in the fridge, and when you get home, pop it in the oven at 350° for 30-35 mins., open a can of corn and voila -- dinner is served! My husband and I shared one and it was more than enough for two people. They also make a nice presentation for company. And, actually, you can also make my Potatoes Chantilly in the same manner -- but instead of 40 mins. baketime, reduce to 20 mins. I think I'll need to do a separate page for "Dinner for One or Two".......mmmmmm.
1/2 c. seasoned breadcrumbs 1/2 c. milk 2 beaten eggs 1 tbsp. each of parsley, basil, oregano, thyme 3 tbsps. of Dijon mustard 2 tbsps. Worcestershire sauce 1 tsp. of chopped garlic (jar garlic) 1 tsp. of liquid smoke 2 tsps. of kosher salt 1 tsp. of sweet paprika A couple of grinds of fresh pepper 1 lb. of ground beef 1 lb. of ground veal* 8 oz. of hot, ground Italian sausage (if you can't get ground then just squeeze 3 sausages from their casings Ketchup
Preheat oven to 375°F. Combine breadcrumbs and milk, add the rest of the ingredients, stir, then add the meat, blending with your hands (the heat and the love of pleasing your family - or significant other - that comes from them only adds more flavor - flavor you can't get from a spoon, and another added feature of the hands vs. spoon -- if you don't think you've added enough breadcrumbs, the exfoliated skin will take up the slack -- only kidding!) until incorporated -- remember, it's not pizza dough so don't beat your meat -- blend and massage gently like you would your boss's ego, your husband's, your mother-in-law, or whoever is a pain in your ass -- in my case, it was all of the above -- and for heaven's sake, don't forget to remove your rings first, trying to get this stuff out of the nooks and crannies is another pain in the patoody. Smother ketchup over the top and place your labor of love in a good sized meatloaf pan and bake for approximately 60-90 mins. -- cooking time depends on your pan and oven so check on it after an hour. If you feel ambitious enough, serve this with my Potatoes Chantilly and fresh green beans.
*NOTE: If you can't afford veal or at least not a lb. of it, reduce the veal to 8 oz. and up the hamburger to 1-1/2 lbs. or eliminate the veal entirely and up the hamburger 8 oz. and 8 oz. more of MILD Italian sausage.
Short, Fat Fannie by Larry Williams
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