MANILA, Philippines – The meatloaf has become a quintessentially American dish, but the preparation of finely chopped meat bound with bread and liquid and cooked in patty form can be dated as far back as the 5th century, in Rome.
Once it made its way to the United States, it steadily rose to popular-fare status specially after the invention of the mechanical meat grinder. Housewives favored how its preparation allowed them to turn cheap and tough cuts of meat into something delicious. When the Depression hit, it upped its status to full-fledged comfort food.
One of meatloaf’s many appeals is its versatility. There’s no one way to make it: you can play around with it to suit your taste and almost always end up with something pretty good.
Today’s version is a simple one that will allow you to do just that.
To make, you’ll need:
- 1 ½ lbs. ground beef (round)
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- About 4 T oil
- 1 sleeve (100g pack) Ritz crackers, crushed
- 1 cup milk
- 1 egg
- 1 T Worcestershire sauce
- ¾ t salt
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2/3 cup ketchup
- 4 T brown sugar
- 4 T mustard
1. Sautee finely chopped onion and carrot in oil until the onion turns translucent. Add in finely chopped garlic and sautee some more until the garlic turns fragrant. Transfer this mixture into a large bowl and set aside to cool.
2. Preheat the oven to 175 C/350 F. While waiting for the vegetables to cool, mix the ketchup, mustard and brown sugar in a small bowl and mix well. This is the sauce that will go on top of the meatloaf before it hits the oven. Set aside.
3. When the sautéed vegetables have cooled to room temperature, add ground beef, cracker crumbs, egg, milk, Worcestershire sauce, salt and freshly ground black pepper into the bowl and mix well.
3. Grease a 9×3 loaf pan and spoon in the meatloaf mixture. Press down and flatten to prevent air pockets.
4. Spread the ketchup mixture on top. Bake for one hour and set aside to rest when done.
Meatloaf, of course, has to be served with sides. I decided to go quintessential all the way with mashed potatoes and roasted vegetables…with a twist.
Joel Robuchon, dubbed “Chef of the Century,” is famous (among other things) for his super rich and smooth mashed potatoes. He even goes as far as saying it’s what made him who he is today.
He uses a 2:1 potato to butter ratio. It requires a lot of love and elbow grease and you will not want to pass anything through a sieve for a very long time, but it will make you feel better about the homicidal amount of butter you’re about to consume.
To make Robuchon mash, you’ll need:
- 5 medium potatoes
- 1 cup butter, sliced into cubes and kept cold
- About 1 cup warm milk
- Salt and white pepper to taste
1. Place unpeeled potatoes in a medium pot with water. There should be at least an inch of water covering the potatoes. I seriously considered simplifying by peeling the potatoes but I noticed that Robuchon goes to great lengths to keep his potatoes dry. My theory is that the skin acts as a kind of barrier between the potato and water, so please leave them unpeeled. Besides, they’re very easy to peel later.
2. Simmer the potatoes until they’re easily pierced with a fork, about 25 minutes. When done, drain and transfer to a bowl. Do not let the potatoes sit in the water. Set aside until they’re cool enough to handle but still warm.
3. When the potatoes are ready, peel the skin. Or you can start peeling right away (carefully!) while holding the potatoes with a dish towel. Transfer them to a large bowl and mash. I don’t own a potato masher/ricer/food mill but my pastry cutter worked like a charm!
4. Transfer the mashed potatoes to a medium pot and take the pot to low heat. Stir and “cook” to get rid of excess moisture, about 5 minutes.
5. Remove pot from the stove and gradually whisk in butter cubes, making sure everything is incorporated nicely before you add more butter.
6. When done, gradually add warm milk and whisk until you reach your desired consistency. Some extra vigorous whisking is encouraged for a fluffier mash.
7. You must be so tired. But we still have the matter of passing all this through a fine mesh strainer. This is the step that elevates this mash to an art form, so please soldier on and set aside when done. Don’t forget to give yourself a pat on the back.
To make up for that, here’s a piece-of-cake vegetable side. Actually, it’s a head of cabbage. Literally.
To make roast cabbage, you’ll need:
- 1 head medium cabbage
- 3 T lemon juice
- 2 T olive oil
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Preheat the oven to 220 C/430 F. Mix the olive oil and lemon juice.
2. Cut the cabbage into 8 equal wedges and place on a baking tray. Drizzle with the lemon juice mixture and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
3. Roast in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until the cabbage wedges are charred to your liking. Very simple, very tasty and beautiful.
FINALLY! We can reap the benefits of all our hard work and sit down to this wonderful meal. To serve, I started with a bed of mash and topped it with thick slices of meatloaf. I added a slice of lemon with the cabbage wedge.
This is the American Dream on a plate. The meatloaf is moist and the sauce on top is so yummy. I almost wish the whole loaf is slathered with it.
As expected, the Robuchon mash is silky-smooth and rich. It could be a bit too rich for some but that’s where the lemon roasted cabbage comes in to save the day. It’s slightly sweet and tangy, also smoky from the char. Make sure to drizzle with more lemon juice.
I’m so excited to make sandwiches with leftover meatloaf tomorrow. But for now, I’m stuffing my face with more mash. I earned it! – Rappler.com
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