So, to truly emulate June one must conquer the meatloaf. Never fear. This is not your mama’s/grandma’s/Aunt Esther’s meatloaf. This is meatloaf for the yoga-pant wearing mama generation. It is eff’ing good.
I learned the basics from my favorite cookbook ever. Once you get the basics down there is room for improvisation.
Start with 2lbs of ground meat. Any combination of the following is great – turkey, beef, pork, pork sausage (yum), lamb, venison would probably work, etc etc. Put meat in giant bowl.
Tear up a few handfuls of breadcrusts. I have only ever used the heels of bread or stale rolls but I bet corn bread or something like that would be great too. Dump these in a bowl (or the big bowl, if you don’t wanna end up with a sinkful of dirty dishes), add ½ cup of milk (or, if you are like me and hate measuring, a splash of milk or two). This is the key to this meatloaf – let the milk sop into the bread crumbs before continuing to mix, maybe 5-10 minutes.
Once milk is absorbed add in an egg or two (it really doesn’t matter, you can even do without if you happen to start making it and discover you are out of eggs.)
Chop of some onion, a handful, maybe some celery. Recipe calls for carrots but I am always afraid little man, who loves this dish, would never eat it if he spied something orange lurking in it. He happily eats carrots, just plain, better play it safe.)
Add in a handful of fresh grated Parmesan. Now I don’t know about you but I rarely have the good stuff in my house. We eat it up too quick. Some regular old grated Parm in a can “shaky cheese” as we call it works too, or shredded moz, which I prefer. Cheese makes everything tastier.
Now for the creative part. Toss in some salt, pepper (a goodly portion of both) and your choice of seasoning. I usually do fresh parsley and fresh sage (really, using fresh is SO much tastier) some sprinkles of cumin maybe, some garlic powder (like less than a teaspoon, or use fresh. I hate digging the crap out of the garlic press, nor do I like chopping it, so I usually use garlic salt). Maybe some curry? Or go the other way and do some fresh oregano? Lots of options here.
Now for the icky part. Take off your rings, take a deep breath, and stick your hands in the goop to mix. No, seriously, I mean, you can try using a spoon if you want but it really doesn’t work very well. Maybe a potato masher if you find that ick factor too high. I don’t touch raw chicken, as you well know, but this I can do, although I noticed the face I was making as I did it last time. That same face you use when cleaning out the sink drain or picking up a gob of old apple found under the sofa. Blech.
So, gush up good and well, form into ball and plop into large baking pan (I use the one 9x13 pan that I use for everything). Now, this is key. You want to free form it. Don’t let it touch the sides. This way fat runs off and more good crusty stuff forms. Trust me. I pat it down into an oblong shape.
Now for the indulgent part. Cover the loaf with several thick slices of bacon.
Cook at 350 for 45-60 minutes until meat thermometer reads 160. Baste occasionally, if you remember or can find your baster, with the rendered juices.
Serve warm. Or the next day on a slice of toast with cheddar cheese.