Meatloaf: it’s one of my mother’s prime specialties and one that I’ve been trying hard to equal if not surpass in its goodness. There has always been something incredibly comforting about Mom’s meatloaf, something that causes me and my siblings to wheedle her into making it whenever we’re down in the dumps.
My mother, however, is never one to give in and all she’ll tell us is that she’ll make one when she feels like it. This statement, of course, pretty much translates as If you want meatloaf badly enough, you’d better learn how to make one. Which is, of course, exactly what I did.
A good meatloaf begins with good ingredients. In this case, good ground pork and beef are a non-negotiable pair. You’re going to need a ratio of 2:1 for this wherein you need twice the amount of pork for every portion of beef. Mushrooms are another crucial ingredient as they add an earthiness that balances the richness of the meat.
Finally, bacon adds smokiness and savor to the dish while keeping it from drying out. Incidentally, a sweet-cured or honey-cured bacon is best as there is an additional sweetness added to a rather complex confluence of flavors. I suppose pancetta would also be nice, but I think it might get swamped under by all the other things going on.
When I finally went and made my own, Mom was more than pleased and I felt more than a little gratified. 🙂
One other thing: Mom adds pickle relish to her meatloaf. It adds flavor, of course, and a most pleasant one at that. However, if pickles make you squeamish, I’ve marked them as optional here.
- 6 strips honey-cured bacon
- 100 grams fresh shiitake mushrooms, chopped finely
- 500 grams lean-ish ground pork
- 250 grams lean-ish ground beef
- 1 large red onion, chopped finely
- 2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish (optional)
- 1/4 cup tomato ketchup
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced finely
- 2 tablespoons fresh sweet basil, chopped finely
- 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
- 1/2 tablespoon rock salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon rubbed sage
- 1/4 cup dry red wine
- 1 egg
Preheat oven to 350 degrees / Gas Mark 4.
Grease a standard-sized loaf tin and line with the bacon slices; set aside.
Combine all the ingredients until well-mixed. Use your hands – be sure they’re clean! – rather than a spoon to ensure that all the ingredients are incorporated into a well-meshed mass. Press the resulting mass into the prepared tin.
Bake for an hour. Remove from oven, drain off and reserve the drippings. Turn the loaf over onto a serving dish.
To make gravy, simmer the reserved drippings in a pan with 2 tablespoons water, 1 tablespoon cornstarch, and 1/2 cup milk. Season to taste with salt and pepper. You may choose to serve this on the side in a gravy boat or drizzle some over the loaf.
Incidentally, if you have leftovers, these make fab sandwiches. Just layer thinnish slices of the loaf with fresh lettuce and tomatoes on whole-wheat or rye bread. Smear on some mayonnaise mixed with either whole-grain or Dijon mustard and laissez les bon temps rouler. 😉