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The Cookstr 10: Ten Recipes for Meatloaf

February 15, 2011

Ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages, allow us to present one of the most comforting foods in the world; a food that says, “I love you,” “Do you need a hug?” and, “Baby, it’s cold outside,” all at once; a food that’s the opposite of trendy and the opposite of chic (except when it’s being served at trendy and chic restaurants as a retro homage to the diner blue plate special). Step right up, folks: it’s time for meatloaf.

Victoria Blashford-Snell and Brigitte Hafner's Meat Loaf

Many of us forget about meatloaf for periods of time, and then rediscover it with renewed appreciation. Because while meatloaf is a classic dish, it’s also incredibly flexible in terms of how you can make it. Yes, you can make it with meat…beef, pork, lamb, veal, or a combo of any of these. And of course there are the chicken and turkey varieties, very popular these days and not as rich. But there are also vegetarian versions, for those who crave the simple homeyness of a meatloaf, but want the loaf without the meat. And there are any number of ways to season and spice a meatloaf, making the variations nearly endless.

A big pile of fluffy mashed potatoes, maybe some green beans, and a slab of flavorful meatloaf. And if you haven’t experienced a day-after meatloaf sandwich, then you are in for a revelation. Sexy? No, not so much. Satisfying? Yes, yes, yes.

1. Terry Golson’s Mexican Meatloaf. If a low fat meatloaf makes you nervous, this salsa-infused version will make you feel better. It’s mostly made with turkey, but added juiciness comes from the smart addition of a small amount of ground beef AND a cup of shredded zucchini (brilliant). Then there’s the pop of salsa, scallions, and some Mexican spices and herbs. It’s like taco night meets meatloaf, all on one plate.

2. Pat and Gina Neely’s Barbecue Turkey Meatloaf. If you have negative associations to turkey meatloaf as the result of a dry or tasteless turkey meatloaf experience, we urge you to make this recipe. Dosed up with barbecue seasonings and barbecue sauce both in and on the meatloaf, it’s not going to let you down. Barbecue in January, without the fire.

3. Beth Hensperger’s Jan’s Tuscan Meatloaf with Roasted Red Potatoes. A slow-cooker meatloaf with fabulous Italian seasonings, like fennel, oregano, and basil. In an all-in-one twist, potatoes are roasted right on top of the meatloaf, securing the slow cooker’s place as winter’s favorite kitchen appliance.

4. James Beard’s Lemon Veal Loaf. If the concept of meatloaf is cheerfully old-fashioned, then this is even more regionally retro. It’s a take on an old Southern classic meatloaf, with veal as the primary meat, baked right on top of several slices of bacon, with a hit of lemon peel inside, and lemon circles on the top to impart citrus-y flavor and moisten it while it cooks. The lemons are removed at the end of baking so the whole thing browns up nicely.

5. Victoria Blashford-Snell and Brigitte Hafner’s Meat Loaf. Pork and beef make for a very flavorful combination, and the fun of this recipe is the three hard-boiled eggs lined up right down the center, which make for cheery little bull’s-eyes in the middle of each slice. And, there’s even a sauce–just a simple mixture of sour cream, pickles, and capers–that really perks up the slices, kind of like what tartar sauce does for seafood.

6. Barbara Kafka and Chris Styler’s Gala Meat Loaf with Spinach. Meatloaf in the microwave. A hefty amount of green spinach gives this meatloaf a fresh, attractive look. Between the food processor and the micro, this is a weeknight gift from the kitchen gods.

7. Molly O’Neill’s Bill Blass’ Meat Loaf. This is definitely a designer meatloaf, with a rich combo of veal, sirloin, and pork. It’s topped with chili sauce and a few slices of bacon, which add flavor, moisture, and, well, bacon!

8. Anne Byrn’s Italian-Style Mini Meat Loaves. If you want to serve meatloaf to company but feel like you need to make it a little more special, these mini loaves do the job nicely. Conversely, these are as kid-friendly as a food can get–individually portioned, adorable, and familiar.

9. Maryana Vollstedt’s Moroccan Meatloaf. In the same way that burgers and meatballs usually start with some sort of ground meat and use seasonings to determine the flavor-direction of the dish, so it is with meatloaf. To wit, turkey and lamb combine with colorful veggies, a splash of orange juice, and a shower of North African seasonings (coriander, cumin, ginger, paprika, fennel seeds, cinnamon), and the all-American meatloaf becomes the all-Moroccan meatloaf, just like that. Mint leaves are a surprising and fresh garnish.

10. Robin Robertson’s Vegetarian Country-Style Pate. Not in a meaty frame of mind? An entry from the slow cooker contingency, this has the satisfying qualities of a meatloaf…without the meat. It’s comprised of a blend of lentils, walnuts, tofu, and eggplant, seasoned up with a beautifully balanced array of add-ins, including garlic, tahini, thyme, and paprika. Serve it in generous slices as a main course, or as a more traditional pate, to be spread on crackers or toasts.

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