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Meatloaf Magic

Sooo… It’s been awhile. I know… but this interruption in posting has been brought to you courtesy of a very important time of year… DEER SEASON. We’ve spent more time in the woods than at home… I finally drug the hubs home on Sunday… He’d been at our lease for 19 days straight. But we love this time of the year and the meat that we stock our freezer with… I know everyone has their own opinion when it comes to deer meat… but we love it and use it regularly. Especially ground meat. And yes, it can be dry… but when processed with beef fat, it really can be used for anything… even burgers, without the teeniest bit of dryness, or falling apart, etc. And frankly, we prefer it over ground beef. Even the hubs. I won him over when I convinced him to make rice dressing (dirty rice) with it… because someone (me) forgot to pick up ground beef. He looked at me like I was asking him to rob a bank and swore it wouldn’t work, wouldn’t taste right, would absolutely ruin it. But I was right (imagine that… lol) and now he will not use anything but our ground venison. Anyhoo… this meal is one of my favorites…. meatloaf, taters and peas. My mom makes the best meatloaf and this is her recipe… except for the addition of my special secret saucy sauce on top. Mashed potatoes and english peas always accompanied meatloaf when I was kid. But there were some little red potatoes begging to be cooked, so they got roasted up instead of classic mashed. So without further yakking….

Yes I know. I see it. But it is there purely for taste and not to compensate for the venison being dry. I am a pork lover and it just gives this meatloaf some porky goodness. Don’t judge… my arteries already do that enough.

So this is very simple, some diced onion, an egg, a handful of oatmeal, small can of tomato sauce and some seasoning. We are going to add all of this to our ground dork (deer+pork = dork) I crack myself up. ANYWAY. So I am using about 3 pounds of meat, because this is going to shrink when we bake it . Don’t worry you won’t be eating meatloaf for weeks. You’ll be lucky if you have any leftovers… it is that good. So get your meat in a mixing bowl, season well. I prefer salt, black pepper, garlic powder and onion powder. And a few shakes of Lawry’s season salt. Another mainstay of my childhood. And yes most of my pictures are lacking and for lack of a better term suck. Currently working on that, but you get the picture. BAHAHAHA. So funny I am.

Then add the rest of your ingredients and mix. With your hands. Yes its gooshy and probably breaks every sanitary rule in the world, but it works and will ensure it is completely mixed and not overworked. Too much mixing the meatloaf will make her tough. Now. you want this to be… umm how do you say… stiff enough to hold it’s shape, but still very moist. If it is too wet, add a little more oatmeal. Too dry, add a little milk. I also put my bowl in the sink…. in case I get a little rowdy and fling some out of the bowl. Nobody likes meatloaf bits on the cabinets… just saying.

So here she is all mixed up. Now you can use I loaf pan or a baking pan. I prefer a loaf pan because it holds in all the lovely dork (lol) juices and keeps this here loaf super moist. Trust me… your going to have a lot of liquid so make sure your pan has sides… I don’t recommend using a sheet pan unless you just enjoy cleaning your oven. But if you do use a baking/sheet pan… line that sucker with foil. You’ll thank me later. AACKKKK…. you should have already preheated your oven to 350… but do it now. It’ll be okay. When its ready, cover that love loaf with foil.

So let’s move on to the taters. Chop them up, in nice chunks, so they are all about the same size. Whack up an onion in similar size pieces.

Get all this goodness in a pan – I used a 9×9 non stick, but any sort of baking pan will do… even a sheet pan. If you want to NOT be scrubbing said pan for the next 437 days… line that baby with foil… OMG have you tried the Reynolds non-stick? It is a blessing for stuff like this… those taters will slide outta the pan like goose poop through a tin horn.

So now lets get them seasoned up…. now I went a bit snooty with sliced garlic and fresh herbs (cause I grow them and love them and call them george and fred and nancy and rosemary..) BUT any seasoning, dried herbs you prefer will do. So will minced garlic. From the jar. Which I Iooovve as well. Just not the ones in vinegar… yuck. Fiesta brand is my go to. But I do adore my garlic slicer and the whole peeled garlic from the HEB. Makes me feel really fancy.

Give those taters and onions a healthy drizzle of olive oil and season well. I went with kosher salt and cracked pepper here. Added about 6-7 cloves of garlic, a few sprigs each of thyme, Italian oregano and my girl rosemary. Again, toss all of this together with your HANDS, making sure everything is mixed well and evenly seasoned.

Now into the oven we go. The beauty of this meal is it all cooks together, at the same temp and will fit in there like best friends on one oven rack.

So while those peeps are making friends.. we can get our peas and special saucy sauce ready. Mom always just topped her’s with ketchup, which is fine, but I came up with this little number and I just love it. It is simply ketchup (duh), a little wooster (worcestershire sauce), brown sugar and salt and pep. Just mix all this up, with your HANDS. JUST KIDDING. Use a spoon for this…. Once mixed, taste for seasoning and set aside.

Now for de peas. No fanciness here. Simple frozen english peas. Store brand even. Maybe on their last legs… lol. They were being held hostage in my freezer, but I rescued them. Well I lied, a tiny bit of fanciness in the fact that I used vegetable stock instead of water, but only because it too needed rescuing from the refrigerator. Fun fact. A lot of ingredients I add or use may seem unnecessary and they probably are, but they are really in fact left over from another recipe, nearing expiration or just need to be used… I HATE wasting ingredients. But back to de peas.

So get a tablespoon or so of minced onion, fresh, dried or heck even onion powder if you aren’t feeling like anymore chopping. Throw that in a little pot (Just look at the cuteness of this little pot) then cover with stock, broth or water. Cook on low until the peas are tender and most of the liquid has evaporated. But don’t start it now… wait a bit so everything is done at once.

So let’s peek in the oven about 45-50 minutes in and see what mayhem is going on in there. Toss your taters, slide the loaf out and check her out.. she should look gross, just swimming in a pool of fatty goodness that we definitely need to handle. So put a heat safe bowl in your sink, and veeerry carefully pour off that fat and liquid, leaving a quarter inch or so in the pan. This sounds tricky but honestly is pretty easy. Just grab the end of the pan with a pot holder, keep that loaf in check with something, think I used a butter knife (such a professional I know) and pour it off. So you are left with this… looks unappetizing I know, but patience my dear.

Also take her temp at this point…. meatloaf is done at 155-160 degrees. She more than likely is close to being done. So let’s bathe her in that lovely sauce and cover up her less than appealing naked self. Then back in she goes, without foil this time. Potatoes should be getting done too, so lets light a low fire under dem peas, unless you’re ready to eat, then cook them at a higher temp.

Remove potatoes when fork tender and meatloaf when sauce has thickened and caramelized a bit. Serve it all up and enjoy! And yes, I put ketchup on my meatloaf. Cause I like it.

Simple, simple home cooked goodness. One of my favorites. Hope you and yours enjoy it too. Recipe and tips to follow…. and always feel free to hit me up with any questions or comments…. on the post or email at davidkaraandrepont@gmail.com

Mom’s Meatloaf with Saucy Sauce, Roasted Taters and Simple Green Peas

Ingredients

Meatloaf

  • 2 lbs. ground meat (beef or venison)
  • 1 lb. ground pork
  • ½  medium onion, diced
  • 8 oz. can of tomato sauce
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ – ½ cup of instant oatmeal
  • 1-2 tsp salt (maybe more)
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon seasoned salt (Lawry’s)
  • Milk, if needed

Saucy Sauce

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon wooster (worcestershire)
  • 1 ½  tablespoon brown sugar

Roasted Taters

  • 3 lbs. (4-5 cups) red potatoes, chopped in chunks
  • 1 medium onion, chopped in chunks
  • 6-7 garlic cloves, sliced fresh or minced
  • Olive oil, enough to coat
  • Kosher salt, black pepper
  • Fresh (few stems/ 1 T of each) or dried herbs (1 tsp each) (Italian Oregano, Thyme, Rosemary)

Simple Green Peas

  • 1 bag frozen green peas
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1-2 tablespoons minced onion (fresh, dried or heck even onion powder)
  • Stock (chicken, vegetable), broth or water

Directions

Gather your junk. All your junk if making the entire meal, if not, just the junk you need.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Dice and chop your onion for meatloaf (1/2 medium diced),  for potatoes (1 medium chunked) and for de peas (1-2 T minced). Chop your taters in similar size chunks.  Slice, mince or mash your garlic, if using.  For the meatloaf, combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl (in the sink for less mess) and mix with ya HANDS until combined, but for the love of meatloaf….DON’T mix it to death. Place in loaf or baking pan lined with foil if you prefer.  Prepare your taters, toss with onions, olive oil, seasonings and herbs if using in baking pan, lined with foil for easier clean up.  Cover meatloaf with foil and bake meatloaf and taters 45-50 minutes. Mix sauce ingredients and set aside.  Toss/Stir potatoes. Remove meatloaf from oven, and drain ¾ of liquid from pan.  Slather it with that saucy sauce, return to oven (without foil) and bake until internal temperature is 155-160.  Place bag of frozen peas, 2 T butter, minced onion in small pot, cover with stock, broth or water.  Cook on medium/low until liquid reduces and peas are tender. Potatoes and meatloaf should be done in approximately the same time; however, remove potatoes when they are fork tender and browned.  Let rest 10 minutes or so before slicing up Ms. Meatloaf.  Plate and serve!!

Tips & Tricks

Ya’ll.  Do NOT feel like you have to follow my recipes to the letter.  Unless you are just starting out in the kitchen, always make recipes fit your life, your budget, your tastes and what’s in your pantry and fridge.  Hate onions? Leave em out. Love spice?  Add in some heat. There are very few instances that you must follow a recipe to the letter.  However, this rule does not EVER apply to baking.  Trust me.

  • Ground Meat – use whatever makes you smile.  Beef, turkey, venison, even ground chicken, but pwetty pwease include the ground pork.
  • Garlic for taters – use fresh sliced, fresh smashed, minced from the jar, garlic powder.
  • Herbs – I grow my own… just cause I’m weird and I like plants and the whole gardening thing.  They are super easy to maintain and add so much flavor.  And I can buy the whole plant for 3 bucks (which lasts a whole year, sometimes two) versus spending 3 bucks for a plastic box of a few stems that will most likely spoil before I use it all.  But dried work just as well, so no pressure.  However, the flavor of dried is more concentrated than fresh – usually 3 times as potent.  So 1 tablespoon fresh equals 1 teaspoon dried.  In fact, sometimes dried herbs are better in recipes than fresh, so go figure. 
  • Additions:  You can add anything at all the meatloaf… bell peppers, mushrooms, etc.  Some weirdos even add shredded cheddar.  You do you.
  • Canned peas work as well as frozen, just drain the liquid and rinse em.  Probably 2 cans will be equal to a bag of frozen.  Also, canned will cook down quicker.
  • Your hands….. anytime I am using them as utensils… especially with meat, olive oil or anything gahreasy, turn on de hot water before you mix or fondle… this makes removing the grease much easier and you aren’t trying to operate the sink with your teeth or smearing greasy gunk on the faucet knobs.

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