The moment I was settled into my new home (it took about the length of a nap) I wanted to cook. Then I knew I would really be home. I asked Evan what he was craving after two months in Israel. I thought he’d say chicken Parmesan or pesto pasta, or maybe he’d go nuts and say sushi.
What he asked for was meatloaf. For most Americans this wouldn’t be out of the ordinary. This is something that the majority of people have grown up with, or at least that’s what television has led me to believe. Meatballs, yes—but meatloaf? I can’t remember a single time we had it when I was a kid, and I’ve maybe made it once. Not that I’m not a meat and potatoes kind of girl—I am. In the fourth grade I wrote an entire ode to potatoes in all their glorious forms. Still, regardless of my prior experience (or lack thereof), I was up to the challenge.
The first obstacle was finding ground beef in the supermarket. At most supermarkets in Be’er Sheva meat isn’t portioned out, wrapped in saran wrap, and placed on shelves. You have to go to the butcher counter, pick out exactly what you want and how much you need, and tell the butcher. While Tiv Tam had pork belly and chicken feet, we didn’t see ground beef. In broken English-Hebrew we communicated to the woman that we wanted hamburger meat. Aha! She said. She took a piece of beef and put it in the meat grinder. Of course. I suppose only an American would be surprised by this. An extra step, but well worth it.
Normally I would consult the Joy of Cooking on something like this, but without my cookbook collection I’m at the mercy of the internet. I couldn’t find a recipe I liked entirely, but decided that David Bourke’s recipe for Not-So-Basic Meatloaf was my best starting place. With a few adaptations this turned out to be the best meatloaf I’ve ever had. It defied all the stereotypical images of a dry, flavorless brick of meat. This meatloaf was moist and incredibly flavorful with a distinct herbaceousness. Still not beautiful by any stretch of the imagination. But served with sour cream-mashed potatoes I can’t think of a more down home comforting dish. I would even consider serving this to company.
Pretty Traditional Meatloaf
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1 medium carrot, finely chopped
2 pounds ground sirloin (I had .96 kilo)
2 large eggs
¼ cup milk
1 cup finely ground fresh breadcrumbs
¼ cup Dijon mustard
¼ cup ketchup
¼ cup finely chopped parsley
1 teaspoon picked thyme leaves
Preheat the oven to 375°F (or, in our case, about 200°C). Sauté the garlic, onion, and carrot in olive oil until soft. Set aside to cool (preferably do a bit ahead to allow to reach room temperature).
Put the ground beef in a bowl and mix in the eggs and milk with your hands. Mix in the breadcrumbs, then the cooked vegetables, mustard, ketchup, parsley, and thyme. Season with salt and pepper.
For leftovers the next day I made Shepherd’s pie: break up the meatloaf, put it in a casserole dish, top with the mashed potatoes and bake!