In honor of this anniversary, I have a special post on a recent cooking showdown between a friend and I, for who can make the best meatloaf.
If you're picturing Iron Chef, don't. This was nothing like that. We prepared our loaves in our respective kitchens, and came together at our home to cook and enjoy our creations. So there was no sweating and looking over our shoulders. We had no real idea what our competitor had in store. I tried to be sneaky and sent my friend a recipe I was planning on NOT using. Just to throw her off. I think it worked a little. She thought I was going to keep things simple, but instead I had a few surprises up my sleeve.
Let me start off by saying I had never made meatloaf before. The first time I tried meatloaf, I was in my mid-twenties. I found it a bit strange. Just like when I ate a sloppy joe, I simply didn't get the concept. But, there's plenty of things I will never understand, and I'm not much of a dweller, so when the opportunity came up for Battle Meatloaf, I took it.
I'm really not sure who initiated the meatloaf competition. I bet it was our husbands, who would participate only by eating. It's a nice job if you can get it. But once we had a date set, I knew one thing, I must win. I like a healthy competition, and so does our friend, so there was a lot at stake, mostly trash talking and bragging rights. Although I had no doubt I would win, I played it cool, you don't want to appear too cocky. Besides, she had an interesting take, along with a tasty loaf, it just happened not to be as delicious as mine. So, there you have it, I WON. It's wasn't by much, but first place is first place. And it allowed me to gloat.
Her meatloaf -- she used a mixture of beef, veal and pork. The secret ingredients? Wild mushrooms, sauteed in red wine. Gourmet, right? The loaf tasted like Thanksgiving. It was very Fall. Her texture was good as well. I'll give her that. But, there was no glaze, no sauce, no gravy. I brought this up after seeing the loaf. And there was some talk of her making an impromptu glaze at my house, but that wouldn't have been right. That's something you need to plan for. Her loaf was baked in pan, and shaped like an oval.
My meatloaf -- I also used a mixture of beef, veal and pork. I wanted to take a traditional recipe, but have a few delicious twists. Instead of onions, I used shallots. Instead of using just regular breadcrumbs, I added panko as well. In went Worcestershire sauce, which always makes my Shepard's pies delicious. For herbs, there was dried thyme and fresh parsley. And of course, I had to have a glaze, ketchup, brown sugar, HP sauce, mustard powder and cumin. I did some research and went for cookie sheet cooking method, lined with a wire rack and foil, allowing the fat to drip down. And my loaf had a more traditional shape.
To summarize, I'm going to steal the husband's words, who sent us a kind email the next morning:
Your respective recipes were exceptional. Though only one winner could be chosen, I must admit those were the finest meatloaves I've ever eaten. I think Patrick would agree that was an honor to just stand by, drink, get drunk, and then eat these wonderfully prepared dishes that we contributed absolutely nothing to.
He's so diplomatic! But if you read between the lines, what he's really saying is:
My wife's meatloaf kicked ass! Nice try 2nd place meatloaf, you lose! Patrick and I are lazy drunks, who didn't help at all. You two deserve better.
The wire rack set-up.
Her meatloaf prior to baking. Looking kind of dry.
My loaf prior to baking. All glazed up and ready for the win.
The loaves playing nice in the oven.
The first night, I made mashed potatoes, and had a chance to use my newly acquired ricer. These potatoes were incredible. I used a whole head of roasted garlic, sour cream, butter and half and half.
My loaf post baking.
Her loaf over potatoes, with glazed carrots. Looking good. Just not first place good.
The next day, for leftover meatloaf, I made mashed cauliflower. Same concept as the potatoes, but here I used an immersion blender. This puree was pretty amazing. I can see it going well with all kinds of red meats.
We also roasted some cabbage, drizzled with olive oil and salt and pepper. It only takes about 30 minutes, and makes for a tasty side.
Here are the meatloaf slices side by side. Although they look similar, don't be fooled, one is a winner! Good try, unglazed, mushroom meatloaf. Maybe next time.
Meatloaf coma. Or, I had too much beer, mezcal, mai tais and wine coma.