This week, I knew I’d be cooking for just myself and wanted to make something easy. Something low-key. Something comforting. And what says all of those things like a nice, 4- or 5-ingredient meatloaf?
But of course, I started looking at recipes online, and found a recipe for 4-star meatloaf here. The instructions included pureeing bacon and prunes in a food processor. And there were one hundred and ninety-five (195!) gushing reviews of this loaf, with everyone saying: 1) Who knew meatloaf could be so good? 2) The prunes really make it. And then: 3) Don’t worry, you can’t taste the prunes.
I was intrigued. Prune-meatloaf? I wanted to try it. So in a decision highly unusual for me, I decided I wanted to follow—well, almost exactly follow—the recipe rather than make up my own or execute my tried-and-true easy loaf. See below for the recipe with my substitutions. (I’ll post my mom’s basic meatloaf recipe another day.)
I bought a bunch of ingredients (ground pork being a new one for me, and prunes…) and whipped up a gigantic batch of meatloaf. And the whole time I was thinking, “If I’m going to be eating this for for foreseeable future, it better be frigging good.” I was also singing: I would do anything for loaf, but I won’t puree prunes. (Don’t worry, I pureed the prunes.)
Well, my verdict: it’s delicious. Just make sure you chop anything you’re going to add into this loaf very fine—it doesn’t get any finer when you bake it! And do not overcook this dish, guys. You know what they say: A tender meatloaf is delicious, but a rubbery one is not!
(adapted from Ian Knauer’s recipe in Gourmet, February 2008)
- 1 cup very fine fresh bread crumbs (I used rice bread)
- 1/3 cup whole milk
- 3 shallots, finely chopped
- 4 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 medium celery rib, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp. butter
- 2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tbsp. cider vinegar
- 1/4 tsp. ground allspice
- 1/4 lb. bacon (3 large slices)
- 1/2 cup pitted prunes
- 1 lb. ground beef chuck
- 1 1/2 lb. ground pork (not lean)
- 2 large eggs
Heat oven to 350F. Soak bread crumbs in milk, and set aside. Chop garlic, shallots, and celery very finely. Cook in butter until the celery is soft. Add to breadcrumb mixture. Add Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, allspice, and eggs. In food processor, finely chop prunes and bacon. Combine with all of the above in a large bowl. Mix very well. Form into loaves and bake until center is at 155F when tested with a meat thermometer. Do not overbake!