I Can See Paradise by the Oven Light June 14, 2012Posted by Toy Lady in Childhood Memories, Cooking.
How do you feel about meat loaf?
No, not the old fat guy. I mean meat loaf. A loaf of meat.
Peeps is of the opinion that if you want to judge a diner, order their meat loaf.
Me, I think meat loaf is an individual thing. It’s the sort of thing you just kind of throw together, you know?
I mean, sure, it’s kind of a crap shoot – some times it’s really good, but you’re never able to duplicate it, and well, some times it’s pretty awful and you’re kind of put off of meat loaf for a while and never want to duplicate it.
It’s not always such a great thing, is it? I mean, yeah, being able to just toss together an excellent meat loaf from whatever’s hanging around is probably a rare skill – but there’s the consistency issue. Sometimes it’s good, and sometimes, not so much.
I’m a big fan of consistency.
So, as much as it may seem to go against the spirit of meat loaf, you’ve got to find a recipe and stick with it.
When I was a little girl, my mother did that – she found this recipe for a meat loaf that was, well, no offense, but it was the best meat loaf she’d ever made.
Never mind the fact that it was stuffed with lovely, lovely ham and cheese – and don’t get me wrong. I’m a Dairy State gal, and anything stuffed with cheese automatically gets my attention.
And a little ham never hurt anyone, either.
But the meat loaf itself was pretty great, too. It was tender and flavorful, not greasy, not crumbly, not dry.
For years, we asked her to make the same meat loaf – this meat roll – again, and she never did.
We all thought it was because it was so HARD – after all, it was a meat loaf STUFFED WITH MEAT (and cheese).
Turns out she’d lost the recipe.
She tried, don’t get me wrong. A couple of times, she made her “regular” meat loaf and rolled ham and cheese into it, but it just wasn’t the same thing.
In fact, it was decidedly not even close to the same thing.
And so I thought that was the end of it.
But then, a few years ago, I came across what was purported to be original Better Homes & Gardens recipe for Sicilian Meat Roll – and I knew this was it.
I didn’t even know my mother read Better Homes & Gardens, but I guess, back then, everyone did, didn’t they?
And so I printed it out (nearly 10 years ago now!) (really, has the internet really been around that long?) and this has been MY go-to meat loaf ever since.
The addition of a silicone mat, rather than aluminum foil, for baking, and an instant-read thermometer have essentially been the only changes we’ve made to this recipe over the years.
Even the deli ham has stayed the same – there’s just something about that boiled ham that works sometimes, you know?
Maybe it’s a childhood memory thing.
And you know, sometimes, all you really need is a good meat loaf, some mashed potatoes, and a green vegetable. And if it’s the same good meat loaf you remember from your childhood, well, all the better.
And if it’s the same beloved meat loaf you remember from your childhood, and you can pass it on to your own kid, that’s kind of cool.
Or at least it is until there aren’t any leftovers for sandwiches, anyway.