Saturday, August 1, 2009

Comfort Foods: American Meatloaf and Homestyle Carrots

There are some recipes that just bring me back to my childhood, and a good meatloaf always seems to do the trick. My mother made such wonderful meatloaf; just the thought of it makes my mouth water and my tummy grumble with longing. She didn't add lots of extras to hers.. it was just a plain, simple, yet delicious, all meat meatloaf. Sometimes she made some gravy to go with it, but usually she served it just as is. It was so tender and moist, it didn't really need gravy anyway. Ketchup was served on the side only if requested, never as a topping, at least not that I can ever recall. I thought all meatloaf tasted this way, and I was perfectly content.

Alas, as time went by, Mom, for one reason or another, stopped making meatloaf. I am not sure if Mom ever had the recipe recorded on paper or if the recipe came from a cookbook or if it had been always just something she made from memory. Whichever the case may have been, as time passed without her making the recipe, it eventually became lost. I tried many, many meatloaf recipes over the years, trying to recapture that lost taste. I found plenty of good recipes, and just as many duds, but none that quite filled that empty niche in my childhood recipe hall of fame.

That is until I found this recipe, and although it might not be exactly the recipe Mom used, it definitely satiates my longing for a truly good, homey, comforting meatloaf. The original version does calls for a light brushing of ketchup on top, which I use very sparingly, just to give it a nice glaze. It tastes perfectly wonderful without it, but the glaze does make it look slightly prettier.

Old Fashioned Meatloaf (as adapted from litldarlin's version on Recipezaar)
(makes 2 meatloaves)

2 large eggs
1/2 cup grated red onion
4 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 cup milk (I use skim)
1 cup breadcrumbs or cracker crumbs (or a mix of both)
salt and pepper, to taste
2 pounds lean ground beef
ketchup or BBQ sauce, optional glaze

Preheat oven to 350 F and have ready two 9x5" meatloaf pans (the kind with a drip pan to drain the juices.. handy for making gravy later and for removing any excess fat) or ordinary bread loaf pans. You can also just free form the loaves into oblong shapes and plop them side by side in a baking dish, whatever works for you.

Add the eggs to a large mixing bowl and give them a quick mix with a whisk or a fork. Grab your microplane grater and grate your onion right into the bowl. I don't accurately measure the onion here; I simply cut off a wedge that looks about 1/2 cup sized and grate up that amount. Grating is a key step here, as it provides moisture to the loaf and also makes the onion bits so miniscule that even picky onion haters will not have anything to whine about. Next add the Worcestershire, milk, and bread crumbs/cracker crumbs to the bowl and give everything a thorough mix, adding some salt and pepper as well. Add in the meat and gently mix everything together by hand.

Divide the meat mixture into two equal portions, form into meatloaf shapes, and place into the pans of your choice. Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes. (Brush with about 1-2 Tbsp of ketchup or BBQ sauce during the last 10 minutes of baking time if you would like a glaze). Allow to rest for about 10-15 minutes before attempting to remove from the pans and slicing.

I made some mashed potatoes and homestyle carrots to serve alongside the meatloaf. The mashed potatoes are simply Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and boiled until tender, then mashed with some butter, salt and pepper, and a bit of milk. The carrots are a wonderful version I found on several years ago and have since made numerous times. I have reduced the quantity from the original, and also made a few slight changes:

Homestyle Carrots
(adapted from Satisfied Kris' version on Recipezaar)
(4 servings)

1 pound carrots, cleaned and cut into thick slices, or baby carrots
2-3 Tbsp butter or margarine (I use olive oil based margarine)
1/4-1/3 cup minced red onion, approximately
2 tsp sugar or Splenda
salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in a small saucepan, then add the onions and saute a few minutes, just until they begin to soften. Give carrots a good rinse in a colander, leaving them damp, then toss them into the pan. Add the sugar and some salt and pepper, give it a stir to coat, then drop on the lid and allow to cook over low heat for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. The carrots are ready when they look glazed and you can cut them with a spoon.

1 comment:

  1. This is comfort food at it's best Heather!! It all looks very delicious! xxoo