Have you ever made a special dish for someone because you knew they absolutely adored it? Like making their favorite spaghetti sauce from scratch, laborious homemade lasagna, double-dipped fried chicken, you name it? You make it specially for them hoping they gobble it up and rave on and on about how it was the “best ________ ever.”
But when you serve them the special meal or food item, they eat it and say it’s good and, well, that’s all they say. Obviously, you didn’t wow them like you had hoped, soyou goback to the drawing board and continue searching for that recipe that meets their expectations of what they remember being the “best” whatever they ever had.
Well, that’s the story with me and meatloaf. Meatloaf was my nemesis for a long, long time. It’s one of David’s favorite foods and it took me years to finally get it right. Actually, it took me 14 years to be exact, but who’s counting? I must have made dozens of different recipes.
Does that make me crazy or just a determined person who never gives up? Either way, that perseverance has been a most helpful trait in many situations throughout my life. Even with something as simple as finding the exact meatloaf recipe that makes my husband swoon.
David prefers a simple meatloaf with no vegetables, no ketchup on the top and he absolutely must have it smothered in brown gravy. Three years ago, almost to the date, I did it! I hit the nail on the head. Bulls eye. Whatever. I made this meatloaf and he was thrilled, oohed and ahhed, raved, happily ate leftovers (which he would normally not do) and praised my indefatigable efforts. See my own handwritten notes below, as you can see, I was also proud of myself!
But that was the only time he’s had it. Since my success three years ago, we have not repeated this winning recipe.
Frigid temperatures are headedour way, and, if you can believe it, meatloaf has been a topic of discussion, so I have decided it’s time to make it again. With high temps in San Antonio this week in the mid-30’s, I figure meatloaf will warm David’s belly and his heart.
Meatloaf with Brown Mushroom Gravy
- 1 1/2 pounds ground beef we buy grass-fed beef at Whole Foods
- 1 farm fresh egg beaten
- 1 cup milk
- 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1 cup breadcrumbs If you have a chunk or a few pieces of stale, old bread, you can toast it up and toss it in the food processor to make your own breadcrumbs
Mushroom Gravy, (recipe follows), brown gravy or tomato sauce
- 1 cup assorted fresh mushrooms sliced
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour all-purpose or rice flour
- 1 cup beef stock low sodium (about 8 oz.)
- 1/3 cup red wine
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl combine the beef and egg. Add the milk, mixing thoroughly. Add the salt, pepper and breadcrumbs and stir to combine.
In a lightly oiled casserole or glass Pyrex dish, form into the shape of a loaf.
Bake for 1 hour or until the meat is brown and the inside is cooked.
Turn on the broiler for the last five minutes so the top crisps up nicely, but watch it carefully so it doesn't burn. Serve with mushroom gravy, brown gravy or tomato sauce.
To make the mushroom gravy: Heat a medium saute pan over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the sliced mushrooms and stir to coat. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon salt and stir thoroughly. Allow to saute about 5 minutes or until they are softened, stirring often.
Place a sauce pan over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons butter. When the butter is melted, sprinkle in the flour and stir. Lower the heat to medium and continue stirring until the butter-flour mixture begins to turn golden. This should take about 3-4 minutes.
Add the beef broth and stir well so the flour mixture melds into the broth. Add the red wine and continue to stir well. Allow to cook until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently so it doesn't stick to the bottom. If it ever begins to boil, turn the heat down to a simmer.
When the alcohol has evaporated and the sauce is thickened nicely, liberally add black pepper and the mushrooms. Stir well and taste for flavor--adding more salt and/or pepper if desired.
Spoon gravy generously over meatloaf and serve with potatoes of your choice and a green vegetable.