I broiled some salmon for dinner the other night and I had some leftover salmon. While my wife loves tuna sandwiches, she cannot—for some reason—tolerate salmon salad. Since I was having lunch on my own, I decided to make this treat for a quick and easy lunch.
Wife Jan suggested that I haven’t made meatloaf recently, so I thought I would throw one together. I first learned to make meatloaf from my mother Claudia, but I have moved far awat from that beginning. Jan has been pushing me to add more vegetables to my dishes, so I planned to make this one more “loaf” and less “meat.”
My mother would add rolled oats to her loaf as a “meat stretcher. With five hungry kids and a tight budget, she was always looking for ways to make much of little. However, there are more reasons than economy to add starch to a meatloaf. One secret to a really tender meatloaf is to use a panade—this is a starch mixed with a liquid used to bind the meat together.
In the past, I had always thought that all you had to do was to add the dry bread crumbs and the milk to the meat and the binding would take care of itself. However, soaking the bread and milk together—before adding them—turns out to be an important step. The milk unlocks the starch molecules, so that they can recombine during cooking to bind the ground meat together.
Today, I decided to take this idea one step further. In the past, I have added a whole egg—as a second binder—just before mixing the meat. I thought that adding the egg to the panade would also break up the proteins in the egg—allowing them to combine more evenly during baking. As a finally though along these lines, I wondered if marinating the meat for a while might increase the flavor of end result. So into the panade went some Worcestershire sauce and spices followed by a brief resting period.
Karl’s Weekday Meatloaf
¼ cup bread crumbs
⅓ cup milk
1 large egg
1 Tbs. Worcestershire sauce
½ tsp. thyme
½ tsp. Kosher salt
¼ tsp. marjoram
¼ tsp. black pepper, cracked
2 Tbs. butter
1 cup onion, finely diced
1 cup celery, finely diced
¼ tsp. Kosher salt
1 cup leek, halved lengthwise and sliced thinly
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs. tomato paste
1 tsp. thyme
½ tsp. marjoram
½ tsp. black pepper, cracked
¼ cup dry sherry
¾ lb. ground beef (15%)
1. Put the bread crumbs in a small bowl and stir in the milk.
Tip: Grate the dried ends of sour dough and sweet French baguette loaves into fine crumbs.
Note: Whenever I buy a loaf of bread the last few inches seem to end up on the shelf to dry out. When I have collected 3-4 of them, I grate them on a box grater and put the crumbs in a plastic bag in the freezer until I need them for a recipe.
2. Add the egg, Worcestershire sauce, and seasonings and whisk them together well.
3. Set the bowl of bread mixture aside for 10 minutes, so that the crumbs can completely soak up the milk.
Tip: The milk and egg the mixture should be a soft paste.
Note: You want to break the egg up fairly finely, so mix the ingredients together well.
4. Melt the butter in a medium pan, over medium high heat, and sauté the onions and celery with the salt until they are just starting to pick up some color, about five minutes.
Note: My mother just threw the raw vegetables into the meat and trusted the baking to cook them through. By sautéing the vegetables first you both drive off some of the excess liquid in the vegetables and also add some of the good flavors of the Maillard reaction to your meat loaf.
5. Add the leeks and continue sautéing until the vegetables are soft, another 4-5 minutes.
6. Pull the vegetables to the sides of the pan and sauté the garlic in the hole in the center for one minute, until fragrant.
7. Add the tomato paste to the garlic and continue cooking and scrapping until the tomato paste has started to darkened, about three minutes.
8. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the herbs, pepper, and sherry.
Tip: the sherry does three things, it add its own flavor, it rehydrates the dried herbs, and finally it helps cool the mixture, so that it does not cook the egg when you add it to the meat.
9. Put the beef in a large bowl and break it apart with a knife.
Tip: Meat is mostly protein and if you mix it too much the strands of protein will link together to make a tough, dense meatloaf. By breaking apart the beef you are letting the other ingredients in between the pieces of meat without working the strands together.
10. Scatter the panade and vegetable mixture over the meat.
11. Mix the ingredients together well.
Note: You are doing a balancing act when you mix your meat and vegetables. While the starches and vegetables keep the meat proteins from linking up they are also making bonds of their own. You want to mix enough to have enough bonds to hold your loaf together without compacting it into a solid sausage.
12. Pam a lipped baking sheet and a large bread loaf pan well.
Tip: My mother always baked her meatloaves directly in the bread pan. As a result only the top of the mat was exposed to the dry oven heat to brown. My family prefers that I turn the loaf out onto a baking sheet, so that five of the six sides get brown and crusty. (See Maillard reaction)
Note: Lining the baking sheet with aluminum foil is a connivance for clean up, but is an ecologically unsound practice.
13. Pack the meat mixture into the loaf pan.
Note: If you are not in a hurry, cover the meat with a sheet of plastic wrap and set the loaf in the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes to marinate.
14. Run a knife around the edges of the pan and turn the meatloaf out onto the baking sheet.
15. Put the meatloaf in a 375º F oven and bake 40-65 minutes.
Note: How long you need to cook the meatloaf depends on its thickness, bake until the internal temperature reaches 160 º F.
16. Remove the loaf from the oven and cover it with aluminum foil to rest.
17. Slice the meatloaf into ¾ inch slices and serve with parsley potatoes.
I make my parsley potatoes almost exactly like my mother—with the exception of almost everything. My mother would use White Rose potatoes that she would cut into small pieces. I use small Dutch yellow potatoes cut into larger chunks. My mother would use one clove of garlic, one green onion and one tablespoon of parsley. I triple all of these ingredients. Today, I had some leek left over from making my meatloaf and I decided to add that as well.
Note: The is a sinful, unhealthy breakfast, definitely not an every day breakfast—or even every week—but it is so tasty.
My wife will not eat bacon as being “too fatty”—although she will sometimes eat a slice of Canadian bacon. I have been making her California benedicts lately, but this morning I only one English muffin and I was out of Canadian bacon. I made her a fairly healthy breakfast avocado toast, for myself I went a bit more old school.
Recently, I have been making wife Jan California Benedicts—a toasted English muffin, a slice of Canadian bacon, and a soft poached egg topped with guacamole. Jan travels and eats out more than I do and frequently on these trips she will have avocado toast for breakfast. Apparently, the way the restaurants make breakfast avocado toast is to top the toast and guacamole with the egg. Since she did not want Canadian bacon this morning, I turned my recipe for California Benedict into an avocado toast.
Last week, son-in-law Chris asked for calzone for his birthday meal, but he waited too long—the pizza dough takes at least 3 day to be properly cold-risen. When I make pizza dough it produces enough to make 3 pizzas—a calzone is really just a folded over pizza. I plan to use only tow thirds of this dough for this meal. This dough freezes really well and I will save the third portion for another day. A Caesar salad completes the meal.
Last week, son-in-law Chris asked for calzone for his birthday meal, but he waited too long—the pizza dough takes at least 3 day to be properly cold-risen. When I make pizza dough it produces enough to make 3 pizzas—a calzone is really just a folded over pizza. I had planned to use only two thirds of this dough for this meal, but the fillings I made required me to use all of the dough—dinner for tomorrow. A Caesar salad completes the meal.
I’m making a simple broiled salmon—with just a little lemon juice and salt—for a weeknight meal, but I wanted something more than plain rice to go with it. I had some left over rice in the refrigerator, so I thought that fried rice would be nice. Tonight I decided to try to make it like Chinese restaurant rice with the finely diced vegetables.
Adapted from a Just One Cookbook recipe
Wife Jan is teaching the Anthropology of Food this semester. She had gotten to the English introducing curry to the Japanese and she thought “Japanese curry, yum!” The Japanese have made this dish their own—it is much milder and sweeter than an Indian curry.