Saturday, July 25, 2009

Classic Meatloaf

It is hard to wax poetic about meatloaf. Why am I making meatloaf in the middle of July anyway? The answer to that question lies in the fact that D is coming home from a week at Boy Scout Camp at Cedarlands in Long Lake, New York today. He asked me to make meatloaf for him before he left. He could have asked for Filet Mignon or lobster and somehow I would have made it for him after this long sad crazy week. I'll first have to explain the sad and crazy part of my week before I get to the recipe. Sorry, that's the way it goes.

B and I dropped D off at the VFW hall at 4:45 am on Sunday morning (the meeting place for his scout troop). Everything went well. I didn't cry too much. At least not so he could see me. Afterwards, B and I went out to breakfast and then on to BWI airport to leave for our trip to Greensboro, North Carolina. B knew that I would never be able to stay home without him or D being around. I would have gone stir crazy. B had to go on an important business trip that he couldn't reschedule so he decided it would be best if I joined him. I have to admit that I was a bit excited about seeing Greensboro even though I've been told that I wasn't missing much. In any event, B and I were sitting at the gate waiting for our plane to arrive when I got a phone call from my sister. I had talked to her earlier in the morning when she told me that she and her husband were taking my dad to the hospital. He had fallen in the back yard the night before and he wasn't doing well. I took her second call just at the moment our plane was called for boarding. My sister said, "Dad isn't going to make it. Come or stay, it is up to you." Well, what would you have done? I could not in good conscience get on a plane to fly anywhere knowing that my dad was probably going to die that day! Needless to say, B and I went up to the counter and told them of our situation and that we wouldn't be boarding the plane. Our bags would still have to go to Raleigh but at that point I really didn't care. We got on the mini bus to take us back to our car and my sister called again and talked exclusively to B. I was sure she was telling him that dad had died. They talked for quite a few minutes. I cried throughout. Finally, once B got off the phone with my sister he told me that dad's pulse had gotten down as low as 10 or 12 and he had come back!! He was essentially dead without a pulse and no vital signs at all. They put in a temporary pacemaker and he came back to us! I am completely amazed. I didn't mention that he is 89 years young! What a guy. He is home now and has a permanent pacemaker. I saw him yesterday and he was walking around and chatting like nothing had happened at all.

The only good thing about this whole nightmare is that I couldn't spend much time worrying about D being so far away at scout camp. I did keep thinking that he would be devastated if his grandpa died while he was away at camp. Fortunately, that didn't happen. And we finally got our bags back on Monday night!

The next crazy thing that happened on Tuesday night during a storm. My mom and I (she stayed with me a few days while dad was in the hospital) heard a huge bang. It sounded like it could have been dynamite. We found out the next day that my house had been hit by lightening. It fried our Internet and cable service as well as one of our garage door openers. We finally got our Internet and cable fixed yesterday. Just in time for D to get home! Now if we could only get our garage door openers replaced....

It is finally time for me to get to the recipe. I wasn't at all faithful to the recipe but I know that meatloaf is a very forgiving food. I substituted Italian chicken sausage for the pork sausage. I had no celery so I used celery seed and flakes. I also substituted dried parsley for fresh. My boys don't care for onion so I used minced onion instead. What else did I change? I used liquid egg substitute instead of eggs because I had a carton of it open in my fridge and needed to use it. I really did use fresh breadcrumbs because I still have some in my freezer. I also used the suggestion to put in half a teaspoon of hot sauce if you didn't use spicy ground pork or Italian sausage. I would have added some fennel seed but I had none in my spice closet. I also used organic Worcestershire sauce because I always do.

The simply recipes website gave another good tip: try 1/3 ground pork, 1/3 ground veal and 1/3 ground beef when making meatloaf. You can sometimes find this combo in the grocery store but probably not in the middle of summer.

Classic Meatloaf Recipe

Preparation time: 20 minutes to prep, 1 hour to cook.

1 cup of finely chopped onion
1 celery rib, chopped fine
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 carrot, chopped fine
1/2 cup of finely chopped scallions (can substitute onion)
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 teaspoon salt (use 1 1/2 teaspoons if using Italian sausage)
1 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2/3 cup ketchup
1 1/2 pounds of ground chuck
3/4 pound of spicy ground pork sausage or Italian sausage (a mix of sweet and hot if you are using links)
1 cup fresh bread crumbs
2 large eggs, beaten slightly
1/3 cup minced fresh parsley leaves


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a large heavy skillet cook the onion, celery, carrot, garlic, and scallions in butter, over medium heat, stirring, for about 5 minutes. Cover the skillet and stir occasionally until the carrots are tender, about 5 more minutes. Stir in salt and pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and 1/3 a cup of ketchup. Cook for 1 more minute.

3. In a large bowl, combine the meats, eggs, vegetables, bread crumbs, and parsley. Form into a loaf and put into a rectangular baking pan with 2-inch high sides. Cover the loaf with remaining ketchup.

4. Bake the meatloaf in the oven for 1 hour.

Serves 4 to 6, with plenty for leftovers for meatloaf sandwiches.

I usually serve meatloaf with mashed potatoes but since it is July, I think I'm making corn on the cob instead!


The Creative Cook