The Best Meatloaf

Meatloaf.  We all have our favorites.  The funny thing is our favorite is typically the one we make ourselves.  If someone makes a meatloaf, it’s always the best and you can’t tell them any different.  I have to include myself in that segment of the population.  My husband and I each have our own meatloaf recipe and of course we each think ours, individually,  is the best.

Until last night that is.  We have thrown away our respective recipes and we now have the best meatloaf recipe.  Ev-VER-rrrrr!  Well, in our own humble opinion, that is.

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Meatloaf is as subjective a topic as a macaroni and cheese recipe.  We all have that recipe that our mom made, one that has passed down through the generations, or even one that we have created ourselves based on what we like and don’t like to add in.  There is not one recipe that is exactly the same as someone else’s.  Meatloaf is a personal odyssey of originality and taste, a symphony of meats, cheeses and vegetables.  That is why we all love it and we all love the one we make ourselves.

This particular recipe, adapted from a show I saw on the Food Network, was in a category of the best eaten comfort foods. The meatloaf had been selected by Ina Garten  from Tavern 1770..  Since it was meatloaf it seemed almost mandatory that I make my own personal stamp on it, and so I did.

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Although my husband thoroughly coated his with a layer of ketchup, we both agreed that this was the best we had ever made or had.  I will, however, have to be understanding of the fact you may not agree with our opinion..  You may not even want to try this recipe because you might still hold on to the fact that yours is the best….and perhaps it is.  But I would challenge you to give this a try….just for something different.  It’s full of flavor, moist and hearty all at the same time. And,  I can assure you, that while you may not think it’s the “best” in your home,  you will still want to keep it as a really good back-up.

Be forewarned, the next time someone asks me if I have a good recipe for meatloaf, I am going to say yes.  Yes, I actually do have the best meatloaf recipe.

The Best Meatloaf

Course Entree
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground veal (preferably naturally raised)
  • 1 pound ground pork (preferably naturally raised)
  • 1 pound ground beef (preferably naturally raised)
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh chives, plus 1 teaspoon for the sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh fresh thyme, plus 1 teaspoon for the sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley, plus 1 teaspoon for the sauce
  • 3 large eggs (preferably organic)
  • 1 1/3 cups finely ground Panko
  • 2/3 cup whole milk I used goat's milk
  • 2 Tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly ground pepper
  • 4 cloves roasted garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • Olive oil
  • 2 stalks celery finely diced
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 2 cups chicken or beef stock
  • 8-10 roasted garlic cloves
  • 3 Tablespoons butter, at room temperature

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

  2. Place the veal, pork, beef, chives, thyme, parsley, eggs, Panko, milk, roasted garlic, Pecorino Romano, salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl.

  3. Heat a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat and film it with extra virgin olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the celery and onion to the pan and cook, stirring until softened. When the mixture is cooled, add it to the other ingredients in the mixing bowl.

  4. Using clean hands, mix the ingredients until well combined and everything is evenly distributed. Place a piece of parchment paper on a sheet pan with sides at least 1 1/2 inches high.

  5. Place the meat on the sheet pan and pat it and punch it down to reduce any air pockets. Shape the meat into a loaf (about 14 1/2 inches long, 5 inches wide and 2 inches high.)

  6. Place the sheet pan in the oven and bake 40 to 50 minutes or until a meat thermometer indicates an internal temperature of 155 to 160 degrees. Remove the meatloaf from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes.

  7. Meanwhile for the sauce, combine the broth, roasted garlic cloves and butter over medium-high heat and simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until lightly thickened. Add 1 teaspoon each of the chopped chives, parsley and thyme.

  8. Slice the meatloaf and place pieces in the sauce for 3 to 4 minutes. Place on serving plates and top with sauce.

Pulled Pork BBQ with Piquant Sauce and Classic Southern Slaw

Hot, lazy days and nights when you sit out with a fan and hope for a bit of a breeze.  Lightening bugs and children squealing with delight as they catch one in a jar.  Sweet tea and rockers on a porch, family picnics and pork barbecue.

It’s summer in the south.

Coming from the north I had never really had barbecue until i moved here almost 26 years ago.  Ever since that time I first held a pulled pork sandwich in my hand, I have been in love with it.  The vinegar sauce dripping down my fingers, the hot spice subtly controlled by the coolness of the rich coleslaw resting on top.  It was that first bite that made me realize I was destined to live in the south.

I have tried to make it many times over the past years.  Once I almost got it right and then somehow lost the recipe and it’s been a struggle ever since, trying to recreate it.

Until now.

Once again, I have gone back to my friend, Patrick Evans-Hylton’s cookbook “Dishing Up Virginia” and gotten the most incredible tasting recipe for dinner.  It was not what I expected when making it because of the ingredients, but definitely worth keeping it as written.  I want to tell you when you make this, open all the windows and doors because the flavorful scent of pork mixed with onions and garlic wafting throughout the home will make it almost impossible to wait the five hours it needs to cook.   I don’t recall how many times that day I almost dove head first into the oven.

The pork just fell apart, and it was so moist.  I cannot tell you in words how tasty this was.  With every bite I couldn’t wait for the next one.  To quote Patrick from his book and this recipe, ” No doubt other states do remarkable things with barbecue, but this Virginia recipe that combines tradition and time with spice and smoke is unequaled.”  So very true.

Eating dinner with my husband that night, I had the feeling there was a red checkered tablecloth on the table, grandma, grandpa and all the cousins were arriving with their pot luck and the fireflies were lighting up the evening.

Summertime in the south.  It can’t get any better than this.

Pulled Pork BBQ wit Piquant Sauce and Classic Southern Slaw

Prep Time 24 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 29 minutes

Ingredients

PIQUANT SAUCE

  • 1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons finely ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

**NOTE: Sauce needs to be made at least 24 hours ahead of time.

PORK RUB

  • 2 Tablespoons paprika
  • 2 Tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin

PULLED PORK

  • 1 6 pound bone-in pork shoulder roast
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup beer, preferably lager
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 medium onions, roughly chopped

CLASSIC SOUTHERN SLAW

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium head green cabbage, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped

Instructions

  1. Pulled Pork BBQ and Piquant Sauce

  2. Make the sauce: Pour the vinegar into a glass jar and add the sugar, salt, black pepper, cayenne, and pepper flakes. Put on the lid and shake well. Allow to sit at least 24 hours before using; shake before use.

  3. Make the pork rub: Whisk the paprika, sugar, pepper, salt, mustard, cayenne, and cumin together in a medium bowl.

  4. Make the pulled pork: Rub the pork thoroughly with prepared spices on all sides and allow to rest for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

  5. Heat the oil in a large casserole dish over medium-high heat. Cook the pork until brown on all sides, 2 to 4 minutes per side. Remove pork from dish and set aside.

  6.  Pour the beer into the dish and stir to deglaze. Bring to a simmer and add garlic and onions. Remove from heat. Add pork, cover, and bake for about 5 hours, basting occasionally, until very tender and pulls apart easily.

  7. Shred the pork in the casserole dish using tongs; transfer the meat to a platter. Discard the bone.

  8. Serve alone or on a bun, with sauce drizzled on top and if desired, southern slaw.

Classic Southern Slaw

  1. Make the dressing: Put the mayonnaise, sour cream, cider vinegar, sugar, celery seed, mustard, paprika, salt, and pepper in a jar and seal the lid; shake well to incorporate all the ingredients. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, shake again before dressing the slaw.

  2. Make the slaw: Put the cabbage and carrot in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat. Refrigerate for at least one hour.

  3. Toss again before serving; serve with a slotted spoon.

Rowena’s Jam, My Pork

Sometimes you think that it’s going to be just a standard dinner but it ends up being one of those dinners when you want to lick the plate.  I had such an experience the other night.

It started off with our usual discussion on what we were going to have for dinner.  We had driven all afternoon from my daughter’s house and honestly I really didn’t want to do any cooking.  My husband suggested a pork tenderloin we had in the freezer so reluctantly I agreed.  My mind was spinning for the rest of the drive home on how I could make this semi appealing.  I remembered I had a jar of Peach, Orange and Clove jam from ROWENA’S KITCHEN.  I could probably do something with that.

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It didn’t begin well.  I opened the jar and the scent of clove was quite apparent.  I love cloves, but my husband does not.  He doesn’t even like the smell.  I had to make sure that it wasn’t going to be the predominant factor or I would never hear the end of it.   I added a bit of this and a little of that and to my delight when he stopped by the stove and stuck his nose in the pot, his only comment was “that smells delicious!”  And it was!  We poured it over the grilled pork and our easy no fuss meal turned into a pork devouring, plate licking event.

This was so good and it made our bland little pork tenderloin so much more appealing.  I would also recommend basting a ham with this, or pouring it on the ham after.  I think it would still end up with the same clean plate results the pork had.

Try it and I bet you’ll lick the plate too.

Rowena's Jam, My Pork

Prep Time 15 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 pork tenderloin
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon jamacian jerk seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 jar (9 oz) ROWENA’S PEACH, ORANGE AND CLOVE JAM
  • 1/4 cup dijion mustard
  • 3 Tablespoons rum
  • 1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger

Instructions

  1. Preheat grill to 350-400 degrees. Remove silver skin and excess fat from tenderloins. Brush tenderloins with oil and rub with jamacian jerk seasoning, salt and pepper.

  2. Grill tenderloins, covered with grill lid, 8 to 10 minutes on each side or until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest portion registers 155 degrees. Remove from grill and let stand 10 minutes.

  3. While tenderloin is on the grill, combine ROWENA’S jam, dijion mustard, ginger, and rum and heat on medium heat until mixture thickens slightly. Season to taste with a pinch of salt and pepper.

  4. Slice pork and place on serving dish. Pour sauce over pork.

Forget Take-Out

My husband is sick and I am not a nurse. In fact I’m pretty bad at it, but I called him during the day to see how he was doing and he said he thought he might be feeling a bit better.  He was a little hungry.  He didn’t have a cold, but my first thought went straight to chicken noodle soup.  Hmmm….that really wasn’t going to work for me but I had to make something that would be easy on his stomach.

I thought I had heard somewhere that ginger was good for the stomach.  Well, it sounded like a good idea anyway, but remember I’m not a nurse. And in my opinion, wonton soup is like chicken noodle soup and I remembered when I was looking at the new Fine Cooking magazine there was a recipe that had me interested. It was in the category of easy dinners.  This was perfect!

I came home with all the ingredients I needed for the soup and there he was lying on the sofa, just like any man who thinks he is dying.   I told him I would make him some soup and he would probably feel much better.  This was so easy to put together that even my friend Emily would be able to make it and so fast I think I beat a really good Chinese delivery.  Plus I had the added bonus of witnessing a medical miracle.  My husband was about to rise from the sofa and proclaim good health once again.

In no time at all I had the soup made and poured two wonderfully aromatic bowls, offering one to my husband.  However, in a really sad voice said he wasn’t hungry.  Wow…perhaps this really wasn’t drama. Perhaps he was really sick.  So I poured him a glass of ginger ale and I sat down alone and devoured my wonton soup. It was so good!  I felt bad that my husband had to miss it but I throughly enjoyed it.   It was like take out without the wait.

On the downside, it was not the medical miracle I anticipated.  My husband went to bed without any dinner. On the upside, it was a great bowl of soup and not a lot of trouble, ranking a very high YUM on the taste thermometer.

Make it some night when you want a light dinner,  playing nurse or just wanting take out without the wait.  You’ll be glad you did.

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