Perhaps it’s a generational thing or maybe even a regional deal, but it seems there isn’t much mention in today’s world of food and dining about the good ol’ meatloaf.
It still shows up on some menus at chain restaurants. It’s easy to make, can be done ahead of time and warmed as needed, and is inexpensive for the restaurant. Use ground meat, spices, onions, maybe a filler such as stale bread or oatmeal — none of those are high priced — and voila! The “special” for the day is meatloaf. It’s a staple in the meat ‘n three cafes of the Southeast, too.
Maybe I’m missing it, though, when it comes to today’s Millennials and Gen X cooks. I guess they’re looking for “an experience” at restaurants or they’re not cooking much at home. Or they’re not eating as much meat. Or, perhaps, I’m just blind to where the meatloaf is being enjoyed with any regularity.
I love a good meatloaf under a couple of conditions:
— Use onions with a good chop. Not a fine chop, where they disappear, but maybe a quarter-inch that gives some texture and a bit of crunch, along with flavor. I love onions. But everyone’s different, as you’ll see with the recipe below that calls for a fine chop.
— Don’t get fancy. Meatloaf is a simple, traditional, basic meal that doesn’t require some chef’s wild imagination getting into molecular gastronomy or 39 ingredients (two of which you can’t find). Some would say it’s a meal for the working class, which is fine with me. I’m good with that. Working class folks are good people.
— Keep the ketchup in the fridge. Drowning a good meatloaf with ketchup and then baking that? Ugh. I’d rather keep an eye on the loaf in the oven, get it out before it dries out, and then if I want sauce use something like A1 or Heinz 57, or a nice salsa as suggested below. I’m a fan of fresh, flavorful salsa and pico de gallo. Use fresh ingredients for the best results. A nice mango salsa or grilled pineapple salsa also is a sweet kick for the meatloaf, too.
Our good friend and noted wild game chef Scott Leysath offers this venison meatloaf recipe for Cinco de Mayo. We’re definitely going to be trying this one, and soon. Sounds fantastic, even if we’re not going to be celebrating the “holiday” that was rooted in reality but is BS hype created by marketing folks to sell stuff. It’s obviously been wildly successful, too, even if no one knows the origins of the date’s significance.
Here’s what Leysath says about the recipe: “For those who don’t like spicy heat, rest assured, this meatloaf is only loaded with flavor, not fire. If desired, you can always ramp up the heat with some additional peppers, seasonings or hot sauce. It’s a great way to use up inventory from the freezer and, best of all, it works with just about any combination of game meats like venison, wild turkey and upland game birds, provided that you add at least one-third ground beef to the mix. I grind my own with my Weston Grinder.“
Mexican Venison Meatloaf
6 – 8 servings
1 cup onions, finely diced
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups crushed tortilla chips
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup tomato salsa
1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon cumin powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 pounds (about 3 cups) ground duck, goose or antlered game
1 pound ground beef
1/2 pound chorizo sausage, casing removed, crumbled
1. Combine onion, jalapeno pepper and garlic in a large bowl. Add tortilla chips with next 8 ingredients and mix well. Add ground game meat, beef and chorizo. Mix all ingredients thoroughly with your hands. In a lightly oiled loaf pan or baking dish, form into a loaf about 4 inches tall.
2. Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 50 minutes or until internal temperature is 155 degrees. Lightly cover with foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing into 1-inch thick slices. Serve with salsa, mustard or chipotle mayonnaise.
In wild game chef Scott Leysath’s wildly popular Better Venison Cookbook, follow Leysath as he lays down the keys to venison deliciousness. In step-by-step fashion, he’ll take you through the basics of field care and storage, cuts and drying, and trimming, slicing and dicing. Better Venison also includes 100 select recipes.
Better Venison is a super gift for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, so get your copies now!