Leland tackles meatloaf
I hadn’t had a proper meatloaf since leaving home years ago, and I was happy when mom posted her recipe last month. It’s one of the few things I regretted not learning how to make reliably well while still living at home, and I never dared try it on my own or from a random recipe.
What is it about meatloaf that is so appealing? It’s such an odd dish. My spellchecker marks it as incorrect (although “spellchecker” gets no red underline, and how long has that word been around?). As far as I know, there is no equivalent word or dish in French. But in my opinion, it’s up there with roast chicken as one of the ultimate comfort foods, and possibly my favorite one. A well-prepared loaf is more than a giant hamburger. It can be full of wonderful flavors and not at all greasy or overwhelming. I would choose meatloaf over steak any day (a possible exception being Poppy’s marinated flank steak—perhaps we can get that recipe on here this summer, folks? Not that I have a grill.). I can consume more meatloaf than any other meat.
So, on Sunday night, after accumulating the various condiments and getting three pounds of 85/15 ground beef, I made mom’s favorite meatloaf.
Hers looked better, and I think I know where I messed up: I didn’t chop my onions finely enough, and I didn’t mix the meat well enough. Mom, what’s the best way to get it more homogenized without packing it? You say to “cut and fold the beef in with the fork,” but I still ended up with crevasses here and there. They didn’t harm the finished product, but there were a few spots of slightly undercooked meat where it was still packed tightly, presumably from its original form. It was also difficult to cut without having it fall off in large chunks. Should I take a pair of forks and cut it up while mixing it with the add-ins? I’d like to hear your mixing technique in the comment section, if you please.
Crevasses and all, the aroma and flavor of this loaf brought me back to my various childhood homes. It’s one of the few dishes mom makes that has looked and tasted the same my entire life, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.