diary of a mad

15 august 2000


 cooking: trojan horse meat loaf

I've mentioned from time to time that my culinary efforts do not always receive a positive response from my clientele, i.e. HRH the Queen of the House and the Heir. It's pleasant to be able to report on a meal which pleased both.

In keeping with the times, I suppose I should call it Trojan Horse Meat Loaf. (No horses are harmed in its making.) To make it, I used:

  • One pound (450g) of lean ground beef (I used ground round steak);
  • One pound (450g) of breakfast-type ground sausage;
  • A 14 oz (400g) package of frozen broccoli florets;
  • Mild cheddar cheese;
  • Grated Parmesan cheese;
  • Ketchup (or, if you prefer, catsup).

I mixed the ground meats together, and used about 3/4 of the mixture to line the bottom and sides of a large loaf pan.

After rinsing the broccoli in a colander under hot water and draining, I put about half of it into the meat shell, sprinkled it liberally with Parmesan cheese, and covered with thin slices of mild cheddar. The rest of the broccoli followed as did more Parmesan cheese. I meant to add more cheddar, as I usually do, but I just flat forgot. Then I flattened the remainder of the meat mixture, placed it atop the contents of the loaf pan, and pressed down the edges firmly to join the sides of the meat shell. (I wanted a deep groove around the edge to retain most of the fat that would be rendered from the sausage, to keep it from spilling onto the oven bottom.)

After glazing the top with ketchup to keep it from drying out, I popped it into a 350°F (180°C) oven for an hour. (Actually, I popped it into the only oven we own, which I had preheated to 350°F (180°C), and I didn't pop it, I slid it onto the shelf. But I digress.)

This is a very forgiving dish, but if you try it yourself, note that large chunks of broccoli stem won't cook through; you'll probably want to cut them up small, save them for salad, or feed them to the resident rodent. Also, mixing the traditional bread crumbs and egg with the meat mixture will render it useless as a shell; you'll probably have to serve the resultant mess with a spoon, instead of the neat slices I was able to present to my clients.

As the timer beeped to signal that the meat loaf was ready, I realized that I had completely forgotten to prepare anything to go with it. Fortunately, a glance at the refrigerator revealed a large container of wide egg noodles left over from the night before, when I'd served them with stir-fried chicken in a pasta sauce. Since HRH had previously disclosed her fondness for such noodles garnished only with butter, with the aid of the microwave oven I was able to present them thus as though I had planned all along to do so.

After finishing her meal, HRH was kind enough to tell me, "That was one of the best dinners I've had in a long time." This was high praise indeed, because she has been on vacation for a week, and we have eaten out several times.

The Heir's compliment was even more heartwarming. He has been refusing to eat roast beef lately; he'll chew the first bite manfully, then claim he can't swallow it (no matter how tender or how perfectly sliced across the grain I've served it).

On this occasion, he chose to take his repast in front of his computer while playing a game. Completely unbidden, he interrupted his meal to come into the kitchen, where I was preparing my own plate, and exclaim, "Daddy, that meat slided down my throat so easily!"

OK, he's still troubleded and confuseded by the past tense, but you have to love a five year old who uses adverbs correctly.

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