Mom! The Meatloaf!!!

Now don’t go around spreading this, but every time Wedding Crashers is on TBS, I have to watch it. And at least once a day, the opportunity to quote Chazz comes up… “What is she doing back there? I never know what she’s doing…HEY MOM! The meatloaf! We want it now! THE MEATLOAF!!!” It never gets old.

I would imagine Chazz’s mom’s meatloaf is of the nightmare variety: compact, dried out, packed into a loaf pan. Maybe topped with a squirt of ketchup.  This genre of meatloaf – the bad kind – has been around for ages, and we’ve all had to swallow it down (with difficulty, no doubt) at some point. Why meatloaf keeps making it to the table in such pitiful format is puzzling, but I come bearing glad tidings! Meatloaf can be delicious! Meatloaf can be something you want to eat! Meatloaf doesn’t have to be made in a loaf pan!

Meatloaf really is better when it’s not squeezed into a pan. Thus contained, the beef juices ooze out and create a Jacuzzi-like environment for the meat, which results in a rubbery rectangle of boiled beef. Yuck. But, unfettered and free, the meatloaf develops a nice crust, which contrasts with juicy, tender beef.  I’ve experimented with a few flavor variations, but recently tried a Gourmet version, which incorporates bacon and prunes. You’ll love it.


Serves 6

For the Glaze
1 cup ketchup
½ cup prune preserves
¼ cup packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

For the Meatloaf
1 cup fresh bread crumbs (from 2 slices firm white sandwich bread)
1/3 cup whole milk
6 slices bacon, chopped
½ cup pitted prunes, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 celery rib, finely chopped
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
Salt and pepper
1 ½ pounds ground beef chuck
½ pound ground pork
2 large eggs, beaten
1/3 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

– Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and middle positions and heat oven to broil. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray.

– Whisk the ketchup, prune preserves, brown sugar, vinegar, and pepper flakes in a small saucepan.

– To make the panade, mash breadcrumbs and milk together in a small bowl; set aside. Process 4 slices bacon and prunes in food processor until finely ground; set aside. Melt butter in medium skillet. Add remaining 2 slices chopped bacon, onion, garlic, and celery and cook until vegetables are softened, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in Worcestershire, vinegar, allspice, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 ½ teaspoons pepper.

– In a large bowl combine the panade, bacon-prune paste, vegetables, beef, pork, eggs, and parsley and mix thoroughly with hands. Transfer mixture to prepared baking sheet and shape into a 9- by 5-inch oval. Brush meatloaf with about ¼ cup of glaze and broil until well browned, 5 to 7 minutes.

– Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and transfer meatloaf to middle rack. Bake until temperature registers 160 degrees, 35 to 45 minutes.  Remove meatloaf from oven, slide onto serving platter or carving board, and let rest 20 minutes.

– While meatloaf rests, bring sauce to a simmer over medium heat and cook until slightly thickened, 6 to 8 minutes. Serve sauce with meatloaf.