It’s meatloaf weather. Actually, you could argue every month is meatloaf weather, but none more so than during the late winter months that require all the comfort food you can find.
On the cusp of an Armageddon blizzard, I finally managed to fight my way into a supermarket to secure the necessary supplies. (A side note: I tried to get into three other supermarkets/stores but was pushed back by rabid hordes who seemed to never experienced a blizzard before. So focused was I on meatloaf, I even dragged myself into Whole Foods, which I should have known would be a waste of time because they don’t deign to sell the fatty blend of ground pork, veal, and beef essential to comfy food recipes. That debacle only resulted in me muttering in the deranged way I did the other two times I found myself desperate enough to think about going there. My need for comfort food greatly increased, I left with three packets of organic dark chocolate peanut butter cups.)
Once safely home, I poured a large glass of wine. There’s lots of recipes for meatloaf but I’m pretty sure everyone has their own. Classic American recipes demand freedom of choice. Sure, there’s written recipes and experts to tell you exactly what you should do but we’re a nation used to adding our own damn ingredients according to our own individual tastes. This is a Constitutional fact, buried within the First Amendment.
My particular recipe is fairly bland because the sauce I make with it is not. After I turned on the oven to 400 degrees, I plopped the meat in a large bowl, added grated onions, chopped garlic (or powered garlic), Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper. Sometimes I add an egg but never oatmeal or rice, unless I think my sons or husband might suddenly decide to bring someone home and I only have a pound of meat on hand. I blended everything together, scraped the meat into a cast iron skillet where I formed it into a loaf and wrapped it in bacon before putting it in the oven. After about 15 minutes, I lowered the heat to 350 degrees and, in another 15 minutes or so, I took the skillet out of the oven to drain off some of the bacon fat.
I carried the skillet over to the sink where I’d placed an empty cat food can to hold the fat, and this is what happened next. . .
Now, I know this looks bad, considering the presence of a bowl of sudsy water, a washcloth and a little scrub brush covered in bacon. But two factors must be taken into account: This was all I had in the refrigerator or freezer for dinner and a hungry family waited in the next room expecting to eat in about fifteen to twenty minutes. Plus, the wind took to howling outside, announcing that the blizzard was at hand.
Thankfully, I was alone in the kitchen. I quickly grabbed a spatula and gingerly lifted the meatloaf back into the skillet. Then I picked up the bacon, examined each strip for sudsy contamination (I do have standards), and layered the bacon once more over the meat. The loaf was admittedly a little deformed and the bacon insisted on twisting about, but time was ticking and the reconstituted meatloaf went back into the oven.
Fifteen minutes later, the meatloaf was cooked but with an askew sensibility about it. Not to worry–my special sauce, a riff off the one my mom taught me, was at hand: blend into a small sauce pot a good measure of ketchup, a couple shakes of Worcestershire, garlic powder, Tabasco (or sriracha) sauce, powdered mustard, vinegar. Gently heat to a simmer, then spread about 1/2 of the sauce over the top of the meatloaf.
I sliced the loaf into individual servings and poured a little more sauce over each slice. Served with buttery mashed potatoes, no one was the wiser.