Meat loaf may not have much to do with handmade custom jewelry but (despite what you may be thinking) it can have everything to do with excellence…and there’s the connection.
I have this friend; call her a close friend. Actually, the same friend of the previously mentioned food fight. She grew up vegetarian but at some point in her life decided that she was going to eat meat. One could almost say that now she’s an animal protein advocate, especially if bacon is involved. Not that animal protein is the only kind of protein that she eats, I’ve had some very excellent Tempeh dishes that she’s prepared and we’ve shared many meals of many types and enjoyed them all…from vegan to vegetarian to downright meaty.
I’m not sure how our conversation got onto meat loaf but if memory serves we were eating a meal at my house of skirt steak with Chimichurri, roasted herbed potatoes and grilled peppers with steamed brocolli. The geopolitical origin of most of that meal is Argentina, a place that I’ve been scheming to visit for a long time and it’s one of my staple meals. We were discussing food as we often do, along with our passion for food and maybe life in general. I think wine may have been involved though it was likely an Oregon local. We have pretty good wines here in Oregon, especially if you like the Vitis vinifera grape but that’s another story. Her 8 yr. old son was participating in the discussion and when meat loaf came up, he seemed interested as an adventurous sort that hadn’t yet experienced meat loaf of any type. She however, turned up her nose a bit. My own kids smiled in a knowing silence when I promised the boy I would soon make him meat loaf and make a believer out of his mom as well. I had a secret.
And I wasn’t going to give the details of the recipe I use but when I did a search for Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Cajun Meatloaf from his cookbook “Louisiana Kitchen”, I found over 9,160 references, many of which already share the recipe. So I guess I’m ok sharing it here. My recommendation however is buy the book. This isn’t the only truly great recipe within the pages of my battered and stained copy.
Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Cajun Meatloaf
2 medium bay leaves
1 Tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon cayenne
1 teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon white pepper
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
¾ cup finely chopped onion
½ cup finely chopped celery
½ cup finely chopped bell pepper
¼ cup finely chopped green onions
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
½ cup evaporated milk
½ cup ketchup
1½ pounds. ground beef
½ pound Ground pork
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cups very fine dry bread crumbs
Preheat the oven to 350º.
Combine the seasoning mix in a bowl and set aside.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the celery, onion, bell pepper, green onions, garlic, Worcestershire sauce and seasoning mix. Sauté until mixture starts sticking extensively, about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally and scraping the bottom of the saucepan frequently. Stir in the milk and ketchup. Continue cooking for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and allow mixture to return to room temperature.
Place the ground beef and pork in an ungreased 13×9-inch baking pan. Add the eggs, the cooked veggie mixture (removing the bay leaves) and the bread crumbs. Mix by hand until thoroughly combined. In the center of the pan, shape the mixture into a loaf that is about 1½” high, 6″ wide and 12″ long.
Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, then raise the heat to 400 degrees and continue cooking until done, about 35 minutes longer.
Now, there’s no reason why you can’t serve the meatloaf just as it is here, but Chef Prudhomme recommends, and I second it, that a good accompaniment for this dish is his “Very Hot Cajun Sauce for Beef” from the same cookbook. I took the time to prepare this also.
Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Very Hot Cajun Sauce for Beef
This sauce is excellent with Cajun Meat Loaf (above).
3/4 cup chopped onions
1-1/2 cup chopped green bell peppers
1/4 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon ground red pepper (preferably cayenne)
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon black pepper 2 bay leaves
1/4 cup minced jalapeno peppers (see Note)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
3 cups beef stock
Note: Fresh jalapenos are preferred; if you have to use pickled ones, rinse as much vinegar from them as possible. Combine the onions, bell peppers and celery in a small bowl and set aside while you start the roux. (Note: Unlike the roux in most other recipes, the roux we use here is light brown. Therefore, instead of heating the oil to the smoking stage, we heat it to only 250ƒ – this prevents the roux from getting too brown.) In a heavy 2-quart saucepan heat the oil over medium-low heat to about 250ƒ With a metal whisk, whisk in the flour a little at a time until smooth. Continue cooking, whisking constantly; until roux is light brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Be careful not to let the roux scorch or splash on your skin. Remove from heat and with a spoon immediately stir in the vegetable mixture and the red, white and black peppers; return pan to high heat and cook about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the bay leaves, jalapeno peppers and garlic, stirring well. Continue cooking about 2 minutes, stirring constantly. (We’re cooking the seasonings and vegetables in the light roux and the mixture should, therefore, be pasty.) Remove from heat. In a separate 2-quart saucepan, bring the stock to a boil. Add the mix mixture by spoonfuls to the boiling stock, stirring until dissolved between each addition. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the sauce reduces to 3-1/2 cups, about 15 minutes. Skim any oil from the top and serve immediately.
As it turned out, and despite many cool and rainy weekends here in Oregon early this summer the day we planned for this was sunny and hot. Not a bad thing for Cajun food, necessarily, but I wasn’t particularly anxious to fire up my Wolf on that hot day. So playing the innovator and really preferring almost any food with a smoky flavor I did this in my Kettle grill.