Sunday, September 11, 2011

Not Quite Mom's Meatloaf

You might think that on nights when Bill's not home I have a bowl of cereal or something simple like spaghetti for dinner. Not so. When Bill's out, it's the perfect opportunity to make to make the foods he isn't fond of ... like meatloaf!

Bill's beef with meatloaf (pun mostly intended) is the glaze that's so often baked on top. His extreme aversion to condiments, and ketchup in particular, keeps him from thinking that's ok. And thus, he's shunned all meatloaf, glaze or no glaze. I made one pretty successful attempt at meatloaf a while back, and Bill gave it a good effort. In fact, he may have even liked it a little. But despite that, I know it's not one of his favorites. And so I frequently fight the temptation to make it.

Well not on Thursday! This was a chance for me to conjure up all of the delicious kitchen mom-eries from home. I still ask my mom to make meatloaf when I visit, and nothing's better than when she serves it with scalloped potatoes. So pairing the meatloaf from America's Test Kitchen Cooking for Two and the cheesy scalloped potatoes from the most recent issue of Cook's Country seemed like the most delicious idea I'd had all week.

Now while this dinner was inspired by mom, these certainly aren't mom's recipes. My mom shares Bill's aversion to ketchup (which might be why she loves him more than me), so she's never served meatloaf with a glaze. And her potatoes come from a box (it's not that she's not a good cook, she's just very selective about what she makes from scratch!). Feeling a bit adventurous, I went for the glaze and the made-from-scratch potatoes. And boy was it worth it!

I tweaked the meatloaf by subbing French bread for the sandwich bread the recipe called for. But knowing the French bread would be much tougher, I took a cue from my mom's meatball recipe and soaked it in milk first (buttermilk, actually). Fearful that this would yield a mushy meatloaf, I had to keep my fingers crossed. But luckily there was no need to worry ... my meatloaf turned out with a crisp and delicious crust and a tender, juicy middle. Almost just like mom makes!

For Meatloaf
1 (1-inch thick) slice French bread
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped fine
5 oz. white mushrooms, sliced thin
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon tomato paste
2 tablespoons water
8 oz. ground beef
1 egg white
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon pepper

For Glaze
3 tablespoons ketchup
1 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Set a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet and lay a 6x4-inch piece of foil in the center of the rack. Using a skewer, poke holes in the foil at 1/2-inch intervals.

Place bread and buttermilk in a small bowl to soak. Set aside.

Heat oil in a 10-inch non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and 1/4 teaspoon salt, and cook until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in mushrooms and cook until they release their liquid, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and cook until liquid has evaporated, about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic, thyme, and tomato paste, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in water and cook until thickened, about 30 seconds. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly, about 5 minutes.

Squeeze buttermilk from bread and discard buttermilk. Place bread and cooled vegetable mixture in food processor and process until smooth, about 10 seconds. Add beef and pulse to combine, about 5 pulses. In a large bowl, whisk together egg white, parsley, Worcestershire sauce, pepper, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Add the processed beef mixture and mix until uniform.

Press the mixture into a compact mass, then turn it out onto the foil-lined rack. Using your hands, press the mixture into an evenly thick loaf, approximately the same size as the foil. Bake until center of meatloaf registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the glaze by simmering ketchup, vinegar, sugar, and hot sauce in a small saucepan over medium heat until thick and syrupy, about 3 minutes. Spread glaze over meatloaf and bake until glaze begins to bubble, about 5 minutes. Let meatloaf sit for 10 minutes before serving.

I love it when it looks just like the picture!
Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes
2 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 oz. parmesan cheese, grated
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/3 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup heavy cream
12 oz. russet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Toss cheddar with cornstarch in a small bowl. Set aside.

Heat oil in 8-inch non-stick, ovensafe skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and thyme and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add broth, cream, potatoes, salt, and pepper, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until potatoes are nearly tender, 10 to 12 minutes.

Off heat, stir in cheddar mixture and press potatoes into an even layer. Sprinkle with parmesan and bake until golden brown, 12 to 145 minutes. Let potatoes cool for 10 minutes before serving.


  1. Remind me not to catch up on your blog when I'm hungry.. it's torture! I haven't had a simple meat and potatoes dinner in a long time, and this looks like perfection, no exaggeration! And scalloped potatoes are still kind of exotic to me, which makes them even more enticing. And you're right.. your picture looks just like the cookbook! How can Bill not regret missing this meal. I bet he secretly does ;p

  2. Yeah, you definitely need to avoid reading LoV Bites when you're starved. I think they only reason I can handle the posts is because they typically occur immediately after a meal ... when I'm stuffed!