It's like a wine tasting...but with meat!

It's like a wine tasting...but with meat!

Though the calendar may say it’s spring, here in Teton Valley we know that snow can continue to fly into mid June. What this means for our dinner tables is a few more weeks of comfort foods. On a cold and stormy evening, most of us omnivores cannot deny the pleasure of devouring the most famous of the “blue plate specials,” meatloaf and mashed potatoes.

When I think back to my first encounters with the loaf of meat, I shudder. My mother was a tremendous cook, but she had one major flaw. She could not make meatloaf. Unfortunately for our family, this did not stop her from trying. Every few months, when the snow was blowing and the Chicago wind-chill dropped into the negative digits, she attempted a fancy new meatloaf recipe to fill our cold bellies. Each time, we would take a bite or two, devour the mashed potatoes and veggies and ask politely to be excused. Eventually she discovered a restaurant that served some terrific meatloaf, and we were thankful to be off the hook from her experiments.

When I started cooking for myself, I attempted to cook meatloaf with little success. I feared I was doomed to repeat the sins of my mother and impose bad meatloaf on those who I cooked for. Worse yet, as a single chef, I would be the one forced to choke down the leftovers for days on end, as meatloaf recipes are typically portioned for 4 to 6 servings.

For a few years, I gave up on meatloaf entirely. Then I decided, for the sake of my newspaper column, to try making it once more. I was going to create the perfect meatloaf for one. I searched the internet for recipe ideas and set up the Tetonia Test Kitchen. Ingredients, bowls, and baking pans were everywhere. My kitchen chalkboard was filled with recipe notes and, by the end of the night, I had five individual loaves of meat. When my boyfriend returned home that evening I asked him to be my taste tester. As he entered the kitchen, his eyes widened in delight.

“A meat loaf tasting?” he asked. “This is like a wine tasting, but with meat. This is a man’s dream!”

To my surprise, Jeff and I agreed that each of the meatloaves were not only edible, but most of them were downright delicious. Somehow, I had broken the Sue Flynn meatloaf curse. I now have a new comfort food to add to my repertoire for those blizzardy “spring” days in the Tetons.

Cooking Notes:

Cookware: For this recipe, you will need either a mini-loaf pan or a two-cup Pyrex baking dish (the kind they sell at the grocery store to put your leftover in). I prefer the Pyrex dish because you can eat half the meatloaf for dinner and then put the lid on the other half for leftovers.

Dividing an egg: When cooking for one, small eggs can sometimes be substituted for large. For this recipe, I scrambled a large egg, and measured the egg with a tablespoon. It is difficult to measure exactly as the egg is slippery, but you can get close. Approximately 2 Tbs of the egg replaced the 1 large egg that most meatloaf recipes called for.

Meatloaf for One

Ingredients

1 mild Italian sausage (1/4 lb)

1/4 lb ground beef

1/4 cup shredded carrot

1/4 cup finely diced onion

1/4 cup finely diced red bell pepper

1/4 cup bread crumbs

1/8 tsp rosemary

2 Tbs egg (see Cooking Notes)

2 Tbs grated Parmesan cheese

Topping:

1 Tbs ketchup

1 tsp brown sugar

½ tsp dried mustard

Preheat oven to 400ºF

  • Remove casing from Italian sausage and place sausage in bowl.
  • Crush the rosemary either with a pestle or the back of your spoon. Add to bowl.
  • Add remaining ingredients through Parmesan cheese and mix well.
  • Pack meat mixture into baking dish.
  • Mix topping ingredients together and brush onto the top of the loaf.
  • Bake for 35 minutes.
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