Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Behind the Dinners: Meatloaf

They say that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. To be honest, I think I have coerced most of the friends that I have in to letting me cook them a meal at one point or another. You know, to seal the deal.

I honestly can say, however, that never does Jim look at me more adoringly than when I am pulling a one-pound, zestfully seasoned log of ground beef out of the oven. There is something about this phenomenon that is tried and true. What is it about meatloaf that so captivates the men in our lives? Is there something in the glaze? Is there an unknown pheromone reaction that occurs when the ground beef and the egg meet? Oh no, I would have my money on their mommies.

Meatloaf is like a default setting for home cooking. Very basic, always satisfying, goes with everything. This is why so many men have been fed innumerable slices of this delicacy in their childhood. Home late from school? Meatloaf. Running off to soccer practice? Meatloaf. What am I supposed to cook on a Wednesday? Meatloaf. Meatloaf brings them back to the warm comforts of home, to the caring arms of their mothers. Decidedly, meatloaf is the Oedipus Rex of home cooking. Importantly, a secret weapon in any respectable arsenal.

Basic Meatloaf
1 lb. Ground Beef
1 Egg
3 tblsp. Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 Yellow Onion, finely chopped
Salt and Pepper

1/4 cup Ketchup
2 tblsp. Worcestershire Sauce
2 tblsp. A1 Steak Sauce
2 tblsp. Brown Sugar

Preheat oven to 350*f.
1) In a bowl, mix together the beef, egg, worcestershire sauce, onion, and a few cranks of salt and pepper.

2) Kneed together until thoroughly combined and shape into an oblong loaf, about 1.5" thick. Place the loaf on to a grate in a pan lined with tinfoil.

3) In a small bowl, mix together ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, A1, and brown sugar until uniform and thoroughly combined.

4) Glaze the top of the meatloaf with about 1/2 of the sauce, and bake in the oven for about 20-30 minutes.

5) When the meatloaf is basically done (after 20-30 minutes) and juices are running clear, add a second layer of glaze to the top. Open the oven and turn it to broil on High.

6) After 10 minutes or so (when the sauce is thick and mostly set) pull the meatloaf out. Let it sit for 5 minutes or so before eating.

Amazing, isn't it? It's astonishing how something so simple -- primal, even -- could bring so many people so much joy. If you're savvy, you'll make mashed potatoes and a salad to go with it. If you want the entire world to explode, you'll make mac & cheese instead of potatoes, totally nix the greens, and add a brownie.

There you have it, the Holy Grail of "mom's cooking". Keep it close, keep it safe. Good luck, and Godspeed.


Erin said...

I am making this again tonight! Delicious!

Jenny Crowley said...

So glad to hear it! I'm actually eating it right now. Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.