I don’t know how or when, but meatloaf has gotten a bad rap.
When “meatloaf” is the answer to the question, “What’s for dinner?” you can’t expect resounding joy in response. If you’re lucky, you might even get the “yuck” face – from kids and adults alike – so often associated with things like Brussels sprouts, beets, and blood sausage. (All of which I love, for the record.) I’m well-versed in meatloaf’s reputation, but I just don’t get it.
Certainly, the name isn’t especially mouth-watering. But I’m pretty sure adding “loaf” to anything besides bread makes food sound nasty. Veggie loaf, jello loaf, lentil loaf. It all conjures up a sort of dry and crumbling or gelatinous and wiggly food product that, for some reason, needs to be shaped into a log to render it fit for human consumption.
I know meatloaf, like its veggie and lentil counterparts, can be dry and unappealing, but it has so much potential! When made well, meatloaf is tender, juicy, and flavorful. Not to mention a whole lot cheaper and more forgiving than steak! If you overcook a steak a little bit, it feels like good money wasted. Meatloaf, on the other hand, can handle some over- or under-cooking and still taste really good.
I love meatloaf. Always have. So, this week when Anthony and I were at the farmers’ market and saw ground lamb, I immediately thought: lamb meatloaf! But lamb is a bit pricey, so we decided to combine it with ground beef to make the dish more wallet-friendly and to tone down lamb’s signature gamey flavor. The guy next to the meat stand was selling gorgeous shiitakes mushrooms, so we grabbed some of those, too.
When we got home, we caramelized an onion and sautéed the mushrooms. While Anthony minced a little garlic, I dug some currants out of the pantry to give a little sweetness and contrast to the meatloaf. After that, it was basically just mix, shape, and bake. The whole thing came together so quickly we hardly knew what to do with ourselves after it went into the oven. Riffing on the traditional sides, we made pureed roasted cauliflower with horseradish and sautéed some beet greens. When the meatloaf came out of the oven, we could barely wait to dig in!
After the requisite resting time, we cut thick, juicy slices and served them over that cauliflower with a zingy horseradish kick. It was, I think, the best meal we’ve made in a while. If you love meatloaf, I hope you enjoy this version. If the very word makes your face pucker in disgust, give this a try…who knows, you might like it!
- 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
- ½ pound shiitake mushrooms, cleaned & sliced
- Salt and ground black pepper
- 5 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
- 2 teaspoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon pimentón (smoked paprika)
- 1½ cups dry red wine
- 1½ cups fresh breadcrumbs
- ¾ cup milk
- 1 pound ground lamb
- 1 pound ground beef
- 2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
- 3 large eggs, beaten
- ⅔ cup currants or raisins
- ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
- Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions; saute until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low; continue to cook until caramelized; 5 to 7 minutes longer. Remove from pan. Increase heat to medium and add another tablespoon of oil to the skillet. Add mushrooms; sauté, lightly seasoning with salt and pepper, until soft and beginning to brown, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from pan. Add remaining tablespoon of olive oil and the garlic; sauté until fragrant, about a minute. Mix Dijon, Worcestershire, tomato paste, and pimentón; add to garlic and cook to intensify flavors, about a minute. Increase heat to medium-high; add red wine and reduce until it resembles a thick sauce, 5 to 7 minutes.
- Meanwhile, mix breadcrumbs and milk and set aside. In a large bowl, mix lamb, beef, thyme, pepper flakes, eggs, mushrooms, onions, wine mixture, and 1 teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Using your hands or the tines of a fork, mix until well combined. Mix in breadcrumb mixture, currants, and parsley.
- Form into two equal logs and place on foil- or parchment-lined cookie sheet. Bake until a meat thermometer registers 160, 40 to 45 minutes. For an impressive, brown exterior, broil on high for a minute or so. Let rest five minutes; slice and serve.