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Cuisine

A meatloaf-less life is a life not worth living

5/4/12 | By Paul Suplee

 People are constantly asking me to write about meatloaf. People love meatloaf. They live for it.

While I may not be one of those fortunate individuals, I can honestly say that meatloaf hits the spot every now and again.

But you know me. It doesn’t serve me or you for me to offer up a Fannie Farmer rendition of the classic loaf known to so many of us in our youth. It just would not be right in any sense of the imagination for me to recite anything reminiscent of The Christmas Story dinners.

No, I believe in challenging your senses; in making you work for your paycheck as it were.

This meatloaf is inspired by the interim principal of our school, but as I could not in a million years give away his secrets, I have to give you a rendition that will leave you satisfied none the less.

In making this wonderful meatloaf, you will undergo one of two scenarios. One, you will carefully smoke your meatloaf, delicately enhancing the nuances that will develop as the food is ‘kissed’ with the smoke, a common description in the business.

Or two, as is probably the case, you will follow the recipe and add some liquid smoke.

Liquid smoke will add a sweeter flavor to the finished dish but as I am no chemist, I can give you no good reason for this. 

But here’s your cool notion du jour; if you eat out in restaurants a fair amount while cooking at home with liquid smoke, you will be able to discern a difference between the two fairly readily.

When we were in Hawaii recently, I ate a good amount of Kailua Pork, a dish based on a traditional masterpiece in which a pig was ground-roasted (subterranean fashion) until the meat was well-permeated with smoke and falling off the bones.

After having more than a few samples, however, I realized that we had fallen victim to the tourism trade.  The smoke came from the bottle in more than a couple of restaurant s in which we had sampled this regional delicacy.  It was delicious but it was canned smoke. That is simply the way of it.

So the use of smoke (canned or au natural) is up to you. I am going to give you a recipe for liquid since I write about ‘real’ smoke enough.

Now, as it is with any article I write, I dig around to see if anyone or anything is concocting stories similar to mine. As luck would have it, one interesting note that came up was on the meat glue of which I wrote a week ago.

Many people are putting meat glue in the same category as pink slime, but I need to pose a question; who knew what pink slime was before two weeks ago? And is it really that bad for you? I don’t know the answer; I’m just merely posing the questions.

To so quickly compare meat glue to pink slime is bizarre. Meat glue is casein, which is the protein found in milk (anyone disgusted yet?). The problem is not with the product itself, but how it is used by manufacturers who glue stuff together. That I think is disturbing, but in this recipe? The glue works wonders.

So once you get past the meat glue dilemma it will be time to make this succulent meatloaf and tweak it out to your liking. 

Not only will your street creds rise with your food knowledge, but your kitchen credits will be without compare as you not only cook a decent meatloaf but can tell stories of islands far away, the importance of food preparation and the ideals of good, fun cooking.  

BBQ Meatloaf

serves 6

1 lb. Ground beef

2 cloves garlic, finely minced

2 eggs

½ ea. Red onion, finely minced

2 tsp. Liquid smoke

1 tsp. Worcestershire Sauce

½ c. Bread crumbs, or as needed

S&P to taste

Bacon to wrap

Meat glue, if you are a food geek

BBQ Sauce of your choice

Black Cherry Planks

Buy a bunch of wood chips, chunks and planks from Dorie at www.MaineGrillingWoods.com 

Combine everything (except the wood planks and the bacon; that would be superfluous)

Lay out the bacon, which is cut in half lengthwise, on a cutting board.  If you are using the meat glue of which I wrote last week, then more power to you.  Glue it up.  Don’t have it?  Just do a Google search for transglutaminase and you will find it

Place your meatloaf stuffing in the bacon and roll it tight as though you were rolling sushi

Coat the black cherry planks with oil and place the meatloaf on top

Roast the meatloaf in a 400° oven until the internal temperature reaches 145°

Remove from the oven, brush with BBQ sauce, and then return to oven for a final crisp and browning

Serve on  the plank if you want to be ‘BBQ Gucci’ or serve with potatoes (roasted, mashed et al)

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