Tonight we are having another diner staple – Meat Loaf. I don’t eat meat loaf in diners; in my experience it is too dry. George doesn’t eat diner meat loaf either – for the same reason. But he loves meat loaf so we have it at least once a month in the winter. And, in the immortal words of Rod Stewart, ” Tonight’s the night.”
George loves my meat loaf. And it must be served with mashed potatoes and green beans or broccoli – he’s not picky. My meat loaf is pretty basic. I use a combination of beef and pork, mix it with an egg, a few seasoned bread crumbs, Worcestershire sauce, a shot of soy sauce, salt and pepper. The loaf gets topped off with bacon. I am picky about the meat I use. Beef chuck and pork loin are my preferred cuts. As a rule, I grind my own meat for meat loaf. This way I know how much fat is going into the meat. I don’t trust those “meat loaf” blends you see in store. Who knows how long that has been sitting there. After I grind the meat I add the seasonings and gently mix everything together. Then I shape it into a loaf, put it in a loaf pan, top it with bacon and pop it in the oven. About 45 minutes later it’s ready to come out of the oven and rest for 10 minutes or so. Long enough for me to mash the potatoes and plate the veggies. There are plenty of leftovers for another dinner and meat loaf sandwiches later in the week.
My first attempt at meatloaf as a new bride – so many years ago – was not so successful. Let me begin by saying that even as a child I loved to cook. I liked to volunteer to make dinner for my family – the standard 2 parents and 3 siblings. I was used to cooking for a family of six. And meat loaf was a stable in our family. My mom is the one who did the grocery shopping so I used the ingredients I was provided. It turned out fine. Spring ahead to my first days as a new bride. George was in the military so we didn’t have a lot of money. I tried to plan meals that would provide lunches as well as dinner. I should also tell you that we lived in a small town in western Wisconsin ( gotta love Fort then Camp McCoy and Sparta) which at the time had, as I recall, one supermarket. I think it was an IGA. As I didn’t drive ( I know, what century was this – but that’s another story) George had to take me to the market. So the stage is now set. New bride, new husband by her side in a small grocery store. I tell George I am making meat loaf. His eyes light up like Christmas morning. I remember when I lived at home I made meat loaf with crushed saltines, ground meat, Worcestershire sauce, eggs, salt and pepper. I grab a box of saltines, the Worcestershire sauce and head off to the meat counter. So far so good. Here’s were it goes oh so badly astray. I ask the butcher for 1/4 lb of ground meat. Yes, you read that correctly. 1/4 lb of meat. I think George was A LITTLE SKEPTICAL but being a new husband he wisely did not question my purchase. He should have. I got home to our oh so small kitchen ( you had to fold the table up into the wall to open the oven door) and proceeded to mix at least 1/2 a box of the saltine crackers with the 1/4 lb of meat, seasonings and egg. Right away I thought it looked a little suspect. The meat loaf didn’t seem to be binding as it should. My solution – add another egg. I finally got the meat and cracker concoction to hold together and put it in the oven to bake. Meat loaf comes out of the oven and I attempt to slice it into nice servings. George sits down at the table, takes one bite of the stuff and tries hard to hide his horror. He took pity on me and said not a word. With the passage of time we have come to laugh about the Meat Flavored loaf incident. Live and learn.