Basic Meatloaf

meatloaf recipeMy mother-in-law and I had a lot of food favorites in common. This is one of her recipes. I like to make her recipes occasionally when I feel like giving the kids a happy memory of her. I can say, “Oh, kids, this is Cinny’s recipe…it is one of my favorite things that she made.” They get all puffed up with pride at the notion. As I often say, I’m never alone in the kitchen. Food memories are the best ones. They are usually warm and uncomplicated. Losing grandparents is complicated for kids. Getting excited about her meatloaf recipe is decidedly uncomplicated, and completely positive.

I have to admit I took a few liberties with the recipe. She would have envisioned this size of a batch to be for a football team. She ate like a bird. I eat like, well, a very large bird. So she would have made two loaves in loaf pans and frozen one of them. I make one giant free-form loaf. Why free form?  Well, the crusty top of the meatloaf is my favorite part. So, this way it is top all over. She approved of the free-form version and I made it often when she would come for dinner. I would make this or pot roast, our other favorite dinner-in-common. I bake the meatloaf with nothing slathered on top, but I love chili sauce on the side.

… 

Read More »

Sausage and Artichoke Dressing (Stuffing)

Thanksgiving is about the people and not the food. And some of my best ones have included canned peas, cranberry jelly shaped like a can, and pumpkin pie picked up 3 for $10 at the grocery store. Why? Because I loved the people I was with and love makes food taste good. No amount of effort or fancy ingredients can make otherwise great food taste good on Thanksgiving if you are spending the day with jerks. Insist on a good day, even if that means it’s just you, a TV dinner on a TV tray, and the Cowboys game. My family has always had really nice, jubilant, silly, pot-luck types of gatherings…but I hear about some doozies. And, I have the ability to do the cook-all-day-martyr-routine, which let’s face it, is pretty unappealing for everyone involved.

But, my hope for you is that you are planning a nice, peaceful Thanksgiving (allowances for bone-crushing backyard football games, or course), whatever form it takes. I’ve said it before, I’d rather have Thanksgiving at Luby’s with people I love (and I know from experience that they do a pretty darned good to-go Thanksgiving) than a “gourmet” meal with people who aren’t being nice to each other.  But, if you are cooking, and cooking for people you love, you might want to add this stuffing to your list of Thanksgiving contenders.

… 

Read More »

Leaf Lard

Recently, I admitted my unbiased love of convenience pies and traditional pies, alike. This is about a step in the traditional pie process. Whereas last week I made a pudding pie for which my effort was finished in roughly 15 minutes, this week I’m preparing to make pies all Autumn long by rendering my own lard for pastry crusts. From start to finish, it took about four hours, at a dawdling and enjoyable pace.

This is an exercise in appreciation. This is about a back to basics approach to making a pie. I hope some of you will try this because it removes a great deal of mystery about lard, fats, and the unknown but trusted things we often use in our crusts. There was a time, not so long ago, when our forbears all used lard in pastry and for all manner of cooking. Many of us believe that we have innovated ourselves right out of a wonderful ingredient…. 

Read More »

Wild Boar Sausage

For ages I have had it in my mind to make homemade breakfast sausage. I knew that it couldn’t be that complicated. Yet, I never quite got around to doing it. How is it that sometimes the simplest things of all seem the most daunting? Well, I cannot say that I will never buy sausage at the grocery store again. However, I implore you to give this a shot. The base ingredient is fatty pork, and beyond that, you can do whatever you please. I even managed to score some wild boar at Bolsa Mercado to mix into my domestic pork for a really sweet twist. And I do mean sweet. Wild boar meat has a certain sweetness to it that has somehow become absent in domestic pork. But, this recipe works equally well using all pork shoulder.

You can mix any spices that you like into sausage. The traditional seasonings are sage, salt, pepper, and a bit of brown sugar. The sugar promotes nice browning as well as a hint of sweetness. But I also played around with cayenne and crushed red pepper, chopped dried cherries and rosemary, marjoram and thyme, and several other variations. The first time you make it, consider splitting the pork into 4 portions once it has been thoroughly processed and ground in your food processor. Then you can experiment with mixing different seasonings into each batch until you find the combination that works for you. Mix in the seasonings, beginning with a light hand. Keep a skillet handy and toss in a tiny blob of your seasoned sausage, cook it, and sample it. Add a little more seasoning if needed. Or adjust or add something else. This freezes like a charm so you can just take your seasoned meat and roll it up in a tube shape using plastic wrap, and then wrap it in foil and freeze it inside of another (well labelled) resealable plastic bag. You will have fresh homemade patty sausage for breakfast, or wonderful sausage to crumble and add to dressing or a dinner omelet.

… 

Read More »

Last updated by at .