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I'm a guy who likes to cook, eat, and drink, but not necessarily in that order. This blog is nothing fancy; just my random thoughts about anything that can be baked, roasted, or fried. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Meatloaf: Score!

I must admit—I love meatloaf. No, not the early 80s arena rocker, but the other meatloaf. Yes, that much maligned all-American dish. How many times did we hear the refrain in all those family sitcoms from the 60s-80s in which one or more children is heard moaning: “Oh no! Not meatloaf…again!” But I think the hatred for meatloaf is urban legend; a falsehood; a conspiracy by the Broccoli Growers Association. Kids really like meatloaf. Why? Because it tastes damn good and it has ketchup in it; that’s why!

I grew up on meatloaf. And now that I’m a parent, I know why. It’s kid-friendly, inexpensive, and easy to make. It also makes great leftovers. Meatloaf sandwich anyone? (My mom packed meatloaf sandwiches in my Space 1999 lunchbox on more than one occasion.)

OK, perhaps I need to tamper my enthusiasm. I must admit that meatloaf does have an image problem. As Rebecca Orchant of The Huffington Post noted, “[t]he problem with meatloaf is that even if it tastes great, it rarely looks great.” So true, which explains why you will not see a photo of my meatloaf on this blog. (Photos of some really scary examples of meatloaf gone wrong can be found in Orchant’s article: meatloaf gone bad!

Yet no matter how it looks, nothing says comfort food like meatloaf. And like any great comfort food, there are a million-and-one ways to prepare it. Meatloaf can be as humble or as haughty as one’s imagination will make it. El Barrio, a local restaurant I just love and have written about in this blog makes a delicious chorizo meatloaf.  No matter what, for me there is no compromise when it comes to the ketchup. It must be Heinz!

What goes well with meatloaf? Of course, any kind of starch will do. I like egg noodles with lots of black pepper and butter, but when I was a kid, the best, the absolute best, was mashed potatoes. Just imagine. It’s a cold winter’s night, and you’ve finished your homework early, so you can watch the latest episode of Mork & Mindy or Battlestar Galactica (the old one without the hot blond Cylon). You casually ask your mom “what’s for dinner?,” trying vainly to mask the trepidation in your voice—God, please don’t let it be liver and onions; I promise I’ll be nice to my little sister—and, after what seems like an interminable pause: meatloaf. Score!

So the next time you think of meatloaf as a pedestrian, passé dish, reconsider; just try it.  It’s the ultimate great comfort food, and full of nostalgic memories, even if you don’t pack it in your vintage Partridge Family lunchbox these days.

Here’s the Insouciant Chef’s Meatloaf Recipe:

Classic Meatloaf


1 1/2 pound ground chuck
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup of bread crumbs (this keeps the meatloaf from being too greasy)
2/3 cup of ketchup (plus 2 tablespoons for topping)
2 extra large eggs (or three large eggs)
2/3 cup of chopped parsley
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
2 teaspoons of ancho chili powder
2 teaspoons of kosher salt
1 teaspoon of cracked black pepper


Knead all the ingredients in a large bowl with your hands  (don’t whimp out and use some kind of spoon). Take this glorious mass and put in a loaf pan (hence the name “meatloaf”). Take about 2 tablespoons of ketchup and spread evenly over the top. Put the loaf pan on a baking sheet and place in an oven at 350 degrees for about an hour or until the sides have pulled away from the pan or a thermometer in the center reads 160 degrees. Let it rest for 15 minutes; serve; enjoy. 

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