Monday, January 31, 2011

Four Fork Meatloaf

There are two things Alex will request when I ask him what he wants for dinner – beef tacos with hard shells or meatloaf.

I try and talk him into other kinds of tacos, maybe pork with soft corn tortillas, and he just keeps telling me,

“No, get the taco kit.”

Then I get frustrated and suggest we just go out to eat. This is successful most times, except when he’s been out of town for a week and I cave in to his whims and make something that he wants. If nothing else, it will shut him up for a couple of weeks.

He made his usual plea for meatloaf, and I promised to make it when he returned from his trip to Nashville. Saturday rolled around and he hadn’t forgotten about it. I had no choice but to find a recipe that would satisfy his request and wouldn’t make me ashamed to cook.

I turned to my dearly departed Gourmet magazine, living on by proxy of One keyword search turned up this recipe, yielding no less than 204 reviews with the highest possible user rating. When a meatloaf recipe gets 21 pages of four fork reviews on epicurious, you take it seriously.

Some of the ingredients came from our favorite big box with the blue logo. The good stuff, like the pork products, came from vendors at Findlay Market like Kroeger and Sons. By the way, nothing relieves the tension of grocery shopping with your significant other like a double scoop Capn’ Crunch and Vietnamese Coffee gelato from Dojo.

Ah, how many relationships could be saved if they’d only turned to gelato.

Sunday night came. I rolled up my sleeves and dug my hands into a big bowl of raw pork product. Sounds inappropriate? It kind of was.

Gourmet’s meatloaf requires soaking of breadcrumbs, chopping and sautéing, food processor-ing and then mixing raw meat and egg with your hands. Then you slap it into a 13 by 9 inch roasting dish, throw it in the oven and clean up the mess in the kitchen for the next hour. Throughout this process, Alex came to the stairs to shout down at me,

“Damn! It smells good in here!”

The meatloaf came out in just about an hour with a browned crust and a lot of rendered fat in the pan. We ignored all that and sliced into the loaf.

I told you, a lot of fat.

This is a meatloaf worthy of four forks. Here’s what it has going for it:

  • Prunes and bacon ground to a coarse mixture and worked into the rest of the meat, so there’s a sweetness and a smokiness throughout.
  • Cooked onions and carrots that soaked up a lot of butter in the sautéing process.
  • All the umami goodness of Worcestershire sauce, however you want to pronounce it.
  • Tons of salt

It’s hard to go wrong when you’ve got all that going on. It was so enjoyable to eat, this recipe is going in my “saved” bookmark folder. If I was my mom, it would be printed, folded and shoved into a decaying Ziploc bag. It’s a keeper, even if it is meatloaf.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Orange Rosemary Scone Therapy

I was pulling onto my 275 exit yesterday and from somewhere inside my head came the words "orange rosemary scones."

Probably I saw them on a menu somewhere, or flipping through a cookbook at a bookstore. Maybe it was divine food intervention. I didn't spend a lot of time debating the origins of this idea, I just got to work searching for a recipe once I got to the office.

If you type "orange rosemary scones" into Google, you'll find a wealth of advice and recipes. I bookmarked a Food & Wine recipe, decided to skip the pistachios, and picked up some sprigs of rosemary on my way home from work.

Merely an hour after I got home, I had a warm batch of scones and an apartment filled with the scent of citrus. They're not overly sweet or orangey. They're good warm out of the oven next to a bowl of soup. They go down really nicely next to a mug of spicy hot chocolate.

The recipe also gave me a chance to do one of the best things you can do with orange rinds: run some hot water down the sink and grind them up in the disposal. The sink smells like an orange grove. At least I think it does, I've never been to one.

These scones were not fussy or time-consuming, and the results were nice. The process of making them was even sort of therapeutic in a Ruth Reichl kind of way. Are voices in my head now shouting out recipe ideas for dinner? Maybe this is the first sign of food insanity. I don't care, commit me, just as long as there are oranges and rosemary there.