Thursday, March 13, 2014

Comfort Food

The first word my mind provides after "comfort" is "food," and I thought it might be a fun change to give you one of my favorite recipes. I'm more likely to cook casseroles and comfort food rather than gourmet meals, so I know a bunch of hearty recipes of questionable health. This is a meatloaf I make for special occasions (some of my friends who are known for being late arrivals are always early to my place when they think I might make this—it's been known to disappear within the first 20 minutes of a dinner).

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1.5 hours
Total time with room for error: 2 hours

Ingredients:

Meatloaf proper:
1-2 pounds ground beef
1 egg
1 sleeve saltine crackers (which you will crush)
garlic powder
onion powder
salt
pepper
seasonings (I typically use basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, and marjoram, but this varies a bit)

Sauce:
1 cup ketchup
1/2 cup brown sugar

Supplies:
Casserole dish
Large mixing bowl
Small bowl
Butter for greasing the pan
Brave hands

Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease the casserole dish. Crush the saltines (it's pretty fun to do this in the sleeve, just be careful not to break through the plastic). In a large mixing bowl, combine the ingredients listed under "meatloaf proper" and give them a vigorous kneading and smushing with your bare hands. When everything is well-blended, form the meat into a rounded line down the center of the casserole dish (the dish will be significantly wider than the loaf, and possibly also longer—I like it that way because the grease runs off into the sides and the loaf gets crispier along the top, sides, and bottom). Bake for 1 hour. To make the sauce, mix the ketchup and brown sugar together in a new bowl. Pour over the top of the meatloaf, then bake the whole thing for another thirty minutes.

Pitfalls:
A friend tried to make this recipe and just would not trust that the meatloaf needed to bake for the whole hour and a half. That didn't go well.

Hat tip:
This is based on a recipe of Loretta Lynn's (yes, the country singer), but I can't use a recipe for any period of time without altering it, so at this point my meatloaf is a bit different from hers.

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I'd love to hear about other people's favorite comfort foods. Feel free to tell me about them in the comments!

10 comments:

  1. Annabeth, your Loretta Lynn-inspired meatloaf sounds similar to my mother's, but I don't really know, and I can't ask, since my mother passed away in 2009. (But maybe I could ask. Stay tuned for my post on Friday.) Thanks for sharing.

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  2. My favourite comfort-food meal is fried or baked chicken (shake-and-bake is the easiest), garden salad (no cooking!) and candied yams. To make these, cut (don't peel) several yams into smaller chunks and boil them until you can easily peel off the skins. (Don't boil them until they're soft. You are going to continue cooking them.) Then slice them into fairly thin slices and fry them in real butter and brown sugar. Take them out when you can easily run a fork through them. I'm sure the yams (let aloen the whole meal) aren't especially healthy, but they are definitely comforting. :)

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    1. Oh, thank you for this. Those candied yams sound delicious.

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  3. I crush crackers for my meatloaf in a ziploc plastic freezer bag, with a rolling pin. Fun. Lately I've been using italian Seasoned Flatbread crisps.

    Hmm, Pot roast with onions and potato and carrots (and bay leaf and rosemary and...) is a comfort food, and so is clam chowder if it's made right. and my mother's New England baked beans, but I haven't had those for many ears and can't digest them very well anyway

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    1. Nice crushing method. However you do it, it's very fun. I should try the flatbread crisps. That sounds good. And now I'm hungry for all three of the other foods you mentioned.

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  4. Try a mix of ground beef, pork and range-fed veal in your meat loaf, and yes, make sure to cook it all the way through. I also like ground or finely chopped onion mixed in.

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  5. I use a lot of chopped onion, too, and canned diced tomatoes. I have to admit that the meatloaf slices tend to fall apart.

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  6. Chopped raw garlic.Chopped green pepper. And lots of pepper. Sometimes I use rye bread crumbs rather than saltines.

    But I rarely cook my meatloaf longer than 45 minutes. Maybe I tend to make mine smaller.

    As for other comfort foods, I love thick soups: pea soup, lentil soup, or bean and barley soup. None of which are really appropriate in the hot climate where I currently live!

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  7. For my husband? Grilled cheese sandwich with a can of tomato soup. For my kids? Spaghettios or that boxed mac and cheese stuff. For me? Fried balogna sandwich on that white bread that's tasteless and so bad for you, but reminds me of my mom who wasn't a very good cook at all. And my Dad used to embarrass me by telling me that when the balogna started to rise up in the center, it reminded him of a young girl's breasts. Sheesh! Da-ad! So weird to look back on it, but he didn't mean any harm and that really IS what it looks like.

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  8. Thanks for the additional meatloaf suggestion, Daddy, Sacchi, and Lisabet. I'm not sure what it is about this particular meatloaf but it really does seem to need to be cooked for a long time. Maybe there are shorter, simpler ways...

    Fiona, there is something about that bread's texture that I just really love even if it's supposed to be tasteless and bad for you.

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