Odd that a meatloaf recipe begins with vegetables, I know.
But adding vegetables brings flavor and color and guarantees a moist meatloaf. You’ll need the white part of two leeks well cleaned, two ribs of celery, three carrots, half a large red pepper and two boxes of mushrooms. And a big bunch of fresh parsley.
Chop the vegetables and one box of the mushrooms so you can fit it into a processor, then add a bit of red wine for a processing liquid. You want the veggies diced to the size of coarse aquarium gravel.
Great. Now add two pounds of ground chuck and one pound of ground pork and begin to assemble the spices in a small bowl.
Three or four tablespoons of worcestershire, a tablespoon or two of dried herbs, an egg, a lot of fresh ground pepper and salt to taste, plus a big squeeze of your favorite hot sauce. Meatloaf is good with a kick.
Mix the spices well, then add to the meat and veggies and add about a cup of herbed breadcrumbs to lighten it all a bit.
Now mix it gently by hand but don’t overdo it. Overworked ground meat gets tough when roasting, so just mix it enough to blend the ingredients and then form it into a loaf.
A meat thermometer makes it easier to know when it’s done. Throw it into the oven at 325 and get some beef stock from your freezer for a gravy. You have been making homemade stocks all Summer, right?
While the meatloaf bakes you can prepare a simple glaze for the top.
Three tablespoons each of ketchup and a good grainy mustard, plus about 2 tablespoons of brown sugar. Mix it all together but wait until the loaf has been in for about 20 or 25 minutes.
While you are waiting, slice the rest of the mushrooms and brown them slowly in butter. This is the basis for your gravy.
Now pull the loaf out and quickly glaze it all over, then shove it back in and set a timer for another 45 minutes or so.
Melt and heat your stock, make a flour/butter roux...
...and whisk in the hot stock until it thickens, then add the whole thing to the sauteed mushrooms and stir well. Taste and adjust your seasonings. Mushroom gravy. Delicious right? Let it bubble slowly if you want the gravy thicker while you make mashed potatoes and a vegetable to finish up just as the meatloaf does.
When your meat thermometer says 155-160F, the meatloaf is done. Pull it out and let it rest for a few minutes before slicing. The temperature will actually coast up before it peaks.
But oh boy! See the little orange and green flecks? At 160F it’s well done, but still very moist and flavorful.
And if you are cooking for your honey,
you can get creative about dessert. ;-)