Thursday, September 23, 2010

Another Easy Dinner...

I know meatloaf is a less than thrilling subject, the name leaves something to be desired, and it's certainly not glamorous... but I don't think I'll apologize for it today.

It's now fall, and this happens to make a nice, homey autumn dinner.

I honestly never understand it when I see meatloaf on a restaurant menu. Really? People actually go out and eat meatloaf? Who's doing this?

However, meatloaf is quick and easy to make, it doesn't take much planning, and it can be very good.
That said, it can be pretty bad, too.

At my house, I only ever remember one kind of meatloaf. No ketchup, no saucey topping... just well seasoned (good) ground beef.
When I was in grad school, I had a different (i.e. not from my house) meatloaf for the first time. I don't want to be disrespecting anyone's mom's food here, but... I hated it (I still ate it, don't worry).

A roommate made it, and I suppose this is what her mom always did. I think she used a packet or two of "meatloaf seasoning" and baked it with ketchup on top.
It was strange, even foreign to me... the flavor not what I expected... and it was sweet.
I thought, "Is this what other people eat for meatloaf?"

I will never make anything like that.
Ours is adapted from a compilation cookbook from the school I was at in first grade.
The actual name is "Chef Jean Pierre Meatloaf" (it's much more enticing if it's FRENCH, isn't it?). It's funny... I can't really imagine a French chef making meatloaf. How chic!

The story behind it was that American women put too much into their meatloaf and completely ruin it. This is simple: a few flavorings and voila! Frenchified meat loaf.
No sauces, no extra seasonings needed. AND it's all run-of-the-mill, regular things that you may have in your pantry already. Well, except (of course) the meat.

I think this may be one of the very few times I advocate using a certain shaker full of Parmesan cheese with a green top and label. Other than this I say always use the fresh real thing if you can. It's only because I'm a snob about it. I'm a cheese snob. And a meatloaf snob.

We can admit that meat doesn't usually photograph prettily.
"Brown" in general does not photograph very well.

It's extremely simple, but maybe once you try it you'll never go back. Very often simplicity can be the best.

My tip for today: if you want to shake the Parmesan cheese can to try breaking up some lumps, please make sure the top is on properly. Otherwise you may end up showering the kitchen with cheese. Get a broom...

I meant to post this earlier, but it just came out of the oven!

It goes very well with any kind of potatoes- although I would say some nice mashed potatoes or smashed (not fully mashed... with some lumps and maybe some parsley thrown in for color) red potatoes would be best.

Chef Jean Pierre Meatloaf (adapted)

2 lb. ground beef
1 can beef consomme, undiluted
1 sleeve saltine crackers, crushed
1/4 c breadcrumbs (seasoned or plain)
1 T dried parsley flakes
Parmesan cheese

Combine all ingredients except Parmesan cheese. Shape into a loaf in a 9x5 inch loaf pan leaving a "trough" down one side of the pan to help the fat drain and to make it easier to pour off once the meat is cooked. Top the meat with a good sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and a little extra parsley if you wish. Bake at 350 degrees F for approximately 1 hour.


  1. So, Did you put in the gorgeous flowers at the end because you don't think hamburger is pretty?
    To hamburger lovers ---it is always pretty.
    Don't be embarrassed about hamburger meat. Does anyone think portobello mushrooms (as you scrape off the gills before grilling) or uncooked liver are attractive before being cooked?

    The only person that might look at this and think, "Ugh!" when he sees hamburger is living in Italy and is very busy---but we miss him and must remind him we love him. Right?

  2. Yes, well... it was to help add color.
    True. It's ok. If he wants he can just skip over this particular post.

  3. Do you think that if we promised not to make him eat meat, he'd decide not to be so busy and come for a visit?

  4. People like us---would never push someone to eat what they prefer not to eat.
    He may come , but I think he would only come with someone who either needed a translator,(French, German, Italian, Latin or English)or he might arrive after travelling with someone whose first 2 names are Raymond and Leo.
    (Sigh...,probably not)

  5. I loved this meat loaf!

  6. Is this the SAME meatloaf I once saw in another cookbook referenced something like: "Mom's Meatloaf"????? wink wink

  7. Yes, it is.
    It's kind of funny...
    He ate it here once and I don't think his wife ever made it for him this way after he gave her the recipe- she just did what she always did.
    I think he actually labeled it as "Meatloaf Like Mamma Used to Make"
    This is the REAL name.

  8. I'm late getting to this post, but am I to understand that a certain German shepherd at a certain undisclosed place near Tuscany is going to be making a visit to see my son? :) Sigh... It would be great to have the vegetarian shepherd visit us, oh, how I miss him. Yes, yes, yes...

    I love this meatloaf recipe! Your lovely Mum gave the recipe to me shortly after Peanut's birth 3 years ago. I make my meatloaf like this every time!!!