Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Perfect Meatloaf Dinner

... or The-Perfect-Meal-to-Impress-Your-Date, perhaps?

Now is the time when the temperatures fluctuate from the mid-40s to 50s during the day, down below freezing at night. While I may dream of the days when I can again hop on the bike and wear shorts to the gym without freezing, there are nights I still crave warm, filling meals by the roaring woodstove and a big glass of red wine.

Such was the case last week. I had plenty of ground beef on hand, and I kept being taunted by the thought of my grandmother's meatloaf. Mmm. And salad. And, per my sous chef's request, mashed red bliss potatoes. Sounds awfully good.

I began with the basic meatloaf recipe my grandmother has somewhat followed for years (though I think there is ketchup in there somewhere, I forget). I adapted it a bit again this time, using a local tomato sauce rather than making my own (Bove's!! The best in VT) and adding a bit of Worcestershire sauce and basil to my meat mixture, along with toasted gluten-free bread in lieu of traditional breadcrumbs. I found the Worcestershire to impart the umami flavor I like in ketchup without the added sweetness. My only fault was that I wish I'd used 2 lbs of beef rather than one, because it went pretty fast and my onion:meat ratio was high.

My sous chef was in charge of the mashed potatoes (I'm wary of my abilities). Super easy. Wash and remove the eyes from the potatoes. Chop into 1-inch chunks. Place in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are easily piercable with a fork. Drain and add 1/2 cup of heavy cream and 1/2 stick of butter. Mash well, adding more cream or butter if desired. Season to taste.

I served this with my favorite salad du jour: Bibb lettuce with pear, avocado, and toasted walnuts, tossed in olive (or toasted walnut) oil, maple syrup, and Maldon salt. This one with spinach and roasted grapes would be good, too, as would this one with beets and blue cheese. Even this hearty kale-miso one, if you're super hungry!

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