In Praise of Meatloaf by Crad Kilodney
What is the food that represents American culture? What is the food that separates the civilized man from the barbarian? What food is the true test of manhood and womanhood, the food loved by all true he-men and she-girls? What is the food that is always in good taste and always tastes good? What is the food you would eat for the rest of your life if you could only eat one food? That food is meat loaf.
MEAT LOAF! MEAT LOAF! I SHOUT IT TO THE WORLD! I LOVE YOU WITH ALL MY HEART AND SOUL AND TASTEBUDS! I WILL DEFEND YOU AGAINST ALL ENEMIES AND CORRUPTORS! I WILL SING THE PRAISES OF MEAT LOAF!
Mom made it for you, and it was good, wasn’t it? You ate it in the school cafeteria, and even though you made jokes about it, you have to admit everyone ate it, right? Indeed, what would America be without meat loaf?
Let’s not take meat loaf for granted, however. Our culture is under attack from all directions. Ugly foreigners have brought their strange foods to our shores. Vegetarians are attacking meat in all forms. And radicals can’t leave well enough alone; they want to transform what is comfortable and familiar into something bizarre in the name of experimentation. We must draw a line in the sand and say “Stop!”
Do you know how to make proper meat loaf — American meat loaf? If not, I am happy to give you my recipe, based on one from a classic American cookbook.
You will need a large mixing bowl and three medium-size aluminum loaf pans. Your ingredients are as follows:
|2 pounds of medium-lean ground beef (if your supermarket doesn’t have medium-lean, just buy one pound of medium and one pound of lean)
2 cups of bread crumbs (ready-made from the supermarket are fine)
¾ cup milk
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 onion, chopped small
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1½ teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon black or grey pepper
1½ teaspoons dry mustard (the secret ingredient!)
1 or 2 tablespoons of dry parsley flakes (optional)
With your washed hands, you will combine all the ingredients in the mixing bowl and blend thoroughly until the mixture is uniform. But before you do this, grease your aluminum loaf pans lightly around the inside with a little vegetable oil. Pack your mixture into the loaf pans to make loaves of approximately equal size. The pans will not be full. It’s better that way. Do not press the mixture down too much. You want a bumpy, uneven top in order to make a nicer crust.
The oven should be set for 350°F. Put the loaf pans on the middle rack. Bake for 40 minutes, then turn on the broiler (top element) for another 5 minutes to char the top and give it a nice crust. (Keep your eye on it to make sure it doesn’t burn.) Remove the loaves and let them sit for a couple of minutes before you slice and serve. If you’re careful not to pierce the aluminum pans, you can reuse them several times. If any leftovers are going into the freezer, slice them into convenient portions first.
Now, there are many variations to meat loaf, but this is a good standard recipe that always pleases.
Canadians have no idea what meat loaf is supposed to taste like. I have found only mushy and tasteless meat loaf in restaurants up here. And there’s one restaurant up north somewhere that advertises their “famous” meat loaf seasoned with sage, of all things! Can you imagine anything more disgusting? Gag! Somebody educate these fools! You never, never, never put sage in meat loaf! Sage is absolutely incompatible with beef, and if you ever see such a thing on a menu, best to walk out. The one and only aromatic seasoning for meat loaf is dry mustard, got it?
What should you put on meat loaf? A little ketchup is okay, but don’t overdo it. (The Loblaw’s supermarket chain has a “President’s Choice” frozen meat loaf that is a tasteless meat loaf drowned in ketchup. Don’t make this mistake at home.) Really, the best thing to go on your meat loaf is an unpretentious brown gravy or mushroom gravy (not chicken gravy!).
Serve your meat loaf to your guests and you will know who’s okay and who isn’t. Girls who don’t like meat loaf are useless in bed and bad companions generally. Men who don’t like meat loaf are unmanly, un-American, and definitely untrustworthy.
Make your home a meat loaf home, and everyone in it will be happy and healthy. And please invite me to dinner. I long to see a lovely house with a front lawn and a backyard. I want to see several happy children at play. I want to see a perfect blue sky and smell the flower garden. I want to see the American flag flying in front of the house. And just when my empty stomach can wait no longer, mom will call everyone in for a meat loaf dinner.
I invoke my publisher’s privilege to comment that Crad neglects to say what one should serve with meat loaf. Mashed potatoes, asparagus, and applesauce, with rhubarb pie (no ice cream please — why do so many Americans put ice cream on top of their pie?) for dessert. And lots of whole milk to drink. If you are inviting me to a meat loaf dinner then that is what I would prefer. If you are inviting Crad then I guess you will have to ask him what he prefers. His phone number is below.
by Crad Kilodney
All material at Dead Man Talking/ www.cradkilodneyarchives.wordpress.com is copyright © by Crad Kilodney. All rights reserved.
Crad Kilodney, P.O. Box 72577, 345 Bloor St. East, Unit 7, Toronto, ON, M4W 3S9
Crad’s new writing is now at CradKilodney.wordpress.com