I was tempted to fancy up the title of this post with an “a la” or something chic and French, in almost an apology for making meat loaf, coming very close to being mind snatched by popular opinion. My meat loaf is good, my mother’s meat loaf was good, and my grandmother’s meat loaf was good. This meat loaf is not at all related to the ones you might have had in cafeterias, diners, truck stops or T.V. dinners. It is not dry nor has the beef flavor been overwhelmed by the addition of too much bread or bread crumbs. It is a meat loaf, not a bread loaf. It can be and has been served to dinner guests.
I’m guessing that the origin of the meat loaf is German. The traiteur/deli counters here in Stuttgart sell meat loaves, using a variety of meats. I plan to try a few. However, I thought the butcher ground my steak too fine. Next time I’ll ask for a coarser grind.
Because my husband ate the delectable veal liver with mustard sauce last night http://cookinginsens.wordpress.com/2012/11/08/kalbsleber-with-mustard-sauce/, praising it in an almost believable fashion, I decided to make his favorite meal today. Meat loaf. Not his mother’s because that was dry and bland. I remember the first time, sitting at the dinner table on meat loaf night, watching the incredible tussle for the ketchup bottle, salt and pepper before anyone had even tasted their meal. Really, I didn’t know where to look. After my first bite, I too requested the salt, pepper and ketchup. Didn’t help. I’m just saying…
Meat loaf is so easy to make and inexpensive, Frugal. 1 lb of ground steak can generously feed a family of 4, without overstretching the meat with bread crumbs. The key to a good meat loaf is to 1) add liquid 2) mix flavor into the meat before cooking 3) go lightly with the bread or crumbs.
For the liquid in this meat loaf, I just dumped in half a can of diced tomatoes, flavored it with onion, garlic and some bell peppers and used a scant 1/4 cup of bread crumbs.
I had an interesting conversation about the bread crumbs at the grocery store with a nice lady; she speaking German, me speaking English. I found a small box of bread crumbs and a large box of bread crumbs, asking her if they were the same. She said that yes they were but pointed out the fact that the small box was 10 centimes/cents/whatever more than the really big box. Not wanting to appear to be the wasteful, unfrugal, American that I am, I was forced to take the really big box while she looked on with a big smile of approval. No need to buy bread crumbs for the next 6 months, I guess. Thanks German lady.
1 lb ground steak
1/2 purple onion, finely chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/6 each red and yellow bell pepper, finely chopped
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 can diced tomatoes, flavored with basil
Mix the steak, onion, garlic, bell pepper, crumbs, salt, pepper and egg together. Add half of the can of tomatoes. Form into a loaf and bake in a lightly oiled pan in a 350 F oven for 40 minutes. Pour the other half of the tomatoes on top and continue to bake for 20 minutes. Slice and serve with mashed potatoes and green peas.