Ah, meatloaf. One of the most derided foods of midwestern American cuisine.
But I'm here to tell you that today's recipe is no ordinary meatloaf. This is Paul Prudhomme meatloaf, baby. This is the kind of meatloaf that would burn June Cleaver's tongue off and wilt her bouffant!
(slightly modified from Chef Paul Prudhomme's Louisiana Kitchen)
2 whole bay leaves
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon cayenne (hot) pepper
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 onion, chopped
4 stalks celery, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1/4 to 1/2 cup scallions, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, either minced or pressed
1 Tablespoon Tabasco sauce (yep, you read that right)
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/2 cup catsup
1 1/4 lbs ground beef
3/4 lbs ground pork (note: you can use 2 lbs ground beef and no ground pork if you prefer)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup dry bread crumbs
1) Combine the seasoning mix in a small bowl and set aside.
2) Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions, celery, green pepper, scallions, garlic, seasoning mix, Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce. Saute on medium-high heat until vegetables begin to soften, about 6-7 minutes. Stir well and be careful not to let the mixture stick to the bottom of the pan.
3) Stir in the evaporated milk and the catsup, and cook for 2-3 minutes more, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool (I usually put it in the freezer for 15 minutes to speed up this process).
4) Mix the ground beef and ground pork well in a 9x13 inch baking pan (I use a lasagna pan). Add the eggs, the bread crumbs and the cooked vegetable mixture (don't forget to remove the bay leaves). Mix thoroughly by hand, and then shape the mixture into a loaf that is about 2-3 inches high, 7-8 inches wide and 11-12 inches long. Leave an inch or two of space around the edges of the pan as shown in the picture below:
5) Bake uncovered at 350F for 25 minutes, then turn oven temperature up to 400F and cook for another 35 minutes longer (the extra cooking time at high heat will crisp up the outside of the meatloaf. Delicious!). Easily serves 6.
Finally, I'll make two very minor modification suggestions for readers out there with tender palates:
1) If you can tolerate some heat, just add 1/2 a Tablespoon of Tabasco, rather than the full Tablespoon.
2) If you really can't stand hot food, leave out all the Tabasco.
Note that in both cases, I'd leave the spice mix alone with its triumvirate of cayenne, black and white ground pepper. Don't be a total wimp.