the best fucking meatloaf, ever (imo)





I love Deb Perelman.  She is a goddess in the kitchen, who is not afraid to publish her failures as well as her successes.  Her book contains a recipe for meatballs which was meant to be the Anti-Meatloaf. . .but makes the best fucking meatloaf I have ever tasted.  If you buy her book (please do!) and follow the recipe, outstanding.  If you want a simplified version of it, read on.

Since its Sunday, it is apropriate to engage Meatloaf in an Act of Reconciliation, recounting its sins and absolving of same.  Brothers and sisters, the sins of Meatloaf are many: dry, tough, bland, containing filler which adds nothing but bulk and covered in a sickly-sweet crust of ketchup.  It used to be an inexpensive way to fill bellies, its sole saving grace – but the price of meat currently is such that even that grace is denied.

Yes, Meatloaf is a sinner – aren’t we all?  And it is with this recognition, in the spirit of fellowship on the Sabbath, that we offer Meatloaf the chance to atone for its myriad sins, and redeem what was once the horror of the dinner table.

Recipe

Set the oven to 350 degrees, spray/oil a foil-lined baking sheet and put 454 g (1 lb) ground meat in a bowl with 50 g unseasoned bread crumbs.  (If you’re really anal, build a time machine, travel 20 hours back in time and bake some bread first.  Then, turn a chunk of bread into bread crumbs, putting 50 g in the bowl and storing the remainder of the crumbs in the freezer.)

Break out your food processor (alternate below, for those wielding a chef’s knife alone), put the work bowl on your food scale, tare the scale and add:

  • 85 g carrot
  • 1 clove garlic (or its dry equivalent; if all you have is garlic salt, try cutting the regular salt down to 1/4 t, and report back)
  • 40 g shallot or onion
  • 1 t smoked paprika (I have also used regular paprika, thyme or oregano in its place)
  • 15 g tomato paste or 30 g ketchup (which is what I used before buying tomato paste in a tube; I’m not opening a whole fucking can of tomato paste just to use 1 T of it)
  • 15 g mustard (Dijon, regular, British – your house, your taste buds)
  • 15 g Worcestershire sauce (steak sauce also works)
  • 3/4 t salt
  • 1/4 t black pepper
  • 1 egg (whatever size you have)
  • 10 g parsley (or dry equivalent)
  • 56 g milk

Give that bad boy a spin on the food processor until it looks like an offering to the Porcelain Gods.  Scrape the vomit-like substance viscous goo into the meat/bread bowl.  Wash your hands, then knead the goo into the meat and bread crumbs until everything is fully incorporated.  Don’t be afraid to work the meat too much – you are adding 230 g or more of moisture (or moisture-bearing veg) to the meat and bread.  The uncooked loaf will feel soft; the cooked loaf will threaten to fall apart if a fork looks at it wrong.  (That’s a good thing.)

Form into a loaf on the baking sheet, and stick it in the oven when the oven reaches 350 and at least 30 minutes have elapsed from removing the meat from the fridge.  Cook it until your oven says it’s done. (45 minutes in my arsonist oven, maybe 10 more minutes in a conventional oven – but sneak a peek at 45 minutes.)

I’m not buying a fucking food processor…don’t I deserve great meatloaf, too?

Yes, you absolutely do!  Without a food processor, mince the carrot, garlic, parsley and shallot (or onion), then scale out the minced veg into the bowl with the other ingredients.  The taste/consistency will not be marred by the lack of gadgetry – I’ve done it both ways, including being lazy about mincing the carrot.  Dicing the carrot works.  Adding shredded carrot works.  Putting a whole uncut carrot into the bowl most emphatically does not work – trust me.

Where’s the celery?

I don’t normally buy it, so it’s missing from this recipe while it appears in Deb’s.

Where’s the sauce?

Yes, Deb’s original recipe calls for a glaze to be applied which puts ketchup to shame.  I’ve made it – it is a cherry atop a cake of wonder.  But I enjoy the naked loaf as much as the glazed version.  If you don’t want to buy the book and really desire a sauce, Alton Brown’s version of meatloaf glaze is freely available on the web; different from Deb’s, but quite delightful.

What kind of meat is being used, anyway?

The mystery meat from your uneaten school lunches.  Honestly, I leave it to you.  The classic meatloaf mix is beef/veal/pork, but I use lean ground beef alone these days.  Turkey should be fine.  If you want to try it with fake meat and/or egg/cow’s milk substitutes, have at it.

Must I scale out the ingredients?

Nope – Deb doesn’t, either.  Deb also uses volumetric measures for her website baking recipes.  I forgive Deb that normally-mortal sin, because she discusses her method of measuring flour and the approximate weight of same. But I like replicable results and scalability – and the food scale allows for that.

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