Have you 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 hope 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 as you had hoped, so you go back 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.
A Meatloaf Mission
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 the 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.
Keep it Simple Stupid
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. Bullseye. 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 headed our 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-’30s, I figure meatloaf will warm David’s belly and his heart.
Meatloaf with Mushroom Gravy
I searched for 14 years to find the right meatloaf recipe. And this is it! This is David's favorite meatloaf. No veggies, no tomato sauce, just meat and a few other innocuous ingredients, topped with mushroom gravy. Let's be certain, no meatloaf is complete without potatoes and a vegetable, so please dress your plate accordingly.
- 1 1/2 pounds ground beef we buy grass-fed beef at Whole Foods or from a local farmer
- 1 large pastured egg beaten
- 1 cup milk
- 1 1/4 teaspoons 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 or gluten-free breadcrumbs
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 8oz package crimini mushrooms sliced
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons flour all-purpose, rice flour or gluten-free flour
- 1-1 1/2 cups beef stock or vegetable stock low sodium or homemade
- 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, recipe below.
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 minced shallot and sliced mushrooms and stir to coat. Sprinkle 1/4 teaspoon salt and stir thoroughly. Allow to saute about 5 minutes or the shallot and mushrooms are softened, stirring often.
Add 2 tablespoons butter to the mushrooms. 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 and the flour taste is cooked out. This should take about 3-4 minutes.
Add the beef or vegetable broth and stir well so the flour mixture melds into the broth. Add the red wine and continue to stir well. As the gravy cooks, it will thicken and this will take about 10 minutes. If the gravy needs to be thinned out, add more broth and continue to stir frequently so it doesn't stick to the bottom. If it ever begins to boil, turn the heat down to a low simmer.
When the alcohol from the wine has evaporated and the sauce is thickened nicely, liberally add black pepper. Stir well and taste for flavor--adding more salt and/or pepper if desired.
Generously spoon gravy over the meatloaf and serve with potatoes of your choice of vegetable or vegetables.