These were the special ingredients in my most recent cooking adventure – meatloaf. A couple of weeks ago, I invested in a new cookbook – The Food Lab, by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt. I was a little concerned – I really didn’t think I wanted to know everything about why a recipe either turned out or didn’t, but I did want to know a little. Like why my salad dressings never tasted as good as those you get in a restaurant. And what was needed to make a really flavorful pasta sauce. And how to choose that perfect steak.
Now I have a really excellent meatloaf recipe that has been shared in our family for years. It actually came from my sister’s good friend’s mom, and has now become one of my go-to dinners. I never really thought I’d look to change it. But, here I had this new cookbook. And, I had the ingredients for meatloaf. Or so I thought. Turns out, according to Kenji, I was missing quite a few. Like soy sauce, anchovies and Marmite. Marmite? What the hell is that? There were other ingredients that I also didn’t have, so I went shopping. And found the Marmite at Cost Plus World Market. We’re lucky enough to have a free-standing store, so I didn’t have to order online. Or postpone my meatloaf night.
Other missing ingredients were mushrooms (In meatloaf? Really?), celery, carrots and buttermilk. My recipe uses milk, onions and raisins. So basically, I had the meat and my recipe ingredients. Missing more than I thought, right?
The meatloaf making began around 6:00 last night. My meatloaf takes about 10 minutes to put together and about an hour or so to bake. I figured dinner would be on the table about 7:30. So, I poured a glass of wine and started to pre-heat the oven. I began gathering all of my new (and interesting) ingredients, and opened my new cookbook. Well. Guess I should have read Kenji’s recipe BEFORE I decided we would eat at 7:30. This meatloaf was way more involved than my meatloaf.
First, I had to finely chop the mushrooms and shred the bread (no pre-packaged breadcrumbs here). So out came my food processor. Easy. Then it was time to mix together the anchovies, Marmite, soy sauce and spices. Into the food processor again. Then the celery, carrots and onion. Food processor. So far, so good. But then . . . turns out I have to cook these vegetables until they soften, add the buttermilk and simmer for 10 minutes. Then combine with the mushroom/bread mixture and cool for 10 minutes. Okay. Dinner delayed until 8:00.
Next was your typical meatloaf mixing of the meat, eggs, spices and cheese (Oh yeah. Forgot to mention the cheese). The meatloaf gets placed into a loaf pan and . . . into the refrigerator? Yep. For about 10 minutes. Dinner delayed until 8:15.
Once it’s ready to go in the oven, the loaf pan is inverted onto a baking sheet and the whole thing goes in upside-down. This was something new. According to Kenji, this will get you the perfect loaf shape to use for leftover sandwiches. LOL. Now we bake for 30 minutes. Remove the pan and continue baking for about 40 more. Remove from oven. Rest 15 minutes. Rest? Dinner delayed until 8:30. Time for another glass of wine.
While the meatloaf was resting, it was time to make the glaze. Yum – ketchup and brown sugar. Oh and another new ingredient – cider vinegar. No worries. Except wait. It was supposed to simmer on the stove. But only for about 2 minutes. Whew.
Now for the exciting part. Brushing the glaze on the meatloaf and finally getting it on the table. Except, according to Kenji, the meatloaf should be glazed, then baked for about 3 minutes. Glazed again and baked 3 more minutes. Then glazed again and baked until it bubbles – another 4 minutes or so. Great. Dinner delayed. Until 8:45. I should mention that by this time, I have 3 hungry boys in the kitchen. Repeatedly asking if dinner was ready yet. Actually, they’ve been walking through and asking this same question since the first delay.
Finally, my meatloaf was finished. Out of the oven it came – looking quite perfect I might add. I did smile just a little. Until I read the final sentence of Kenji’s recipe – “Remove from oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes”. What?????
Needless to say, my meatloaf did not rest. It didn’t even stay on the baking sheet long enough to take a picture. But it was well worth the effort. My boys (and D) LOVED it! Of course maybe it was because I starved them for several hours beforehand. But no. I think it was because I now have a new meatloaf recipe. At least that’s what I’m going to tell myself. As I research if it’s possible to pre-make this meatloaf, freeze it and then take it out and bake when desired. Hmmmm. Dinner at 7:30 maybe?
You can find this recipe (and all the reasons why it works) on page 525 of The Food Lab cookbook. You can also find it on Seriouseats.com. Good luck and happy meatloaf making!