Usually I am a pretty healthy eater. I eat a lot of raw veggies, dine frequently on farro and try to avoid fried foods (unless I’ve been drinking *ahem*). So when I pulled a pack of ground Kobe beef from my freezer a while ago, I had already made my peace with eating some seriously fatty meaty goodness. And when you’ve come that far, it’s best to just don a pair of sweatpants and embrace it.
So I did exactly that.
While the beef thawed, I rooted around in my massive recipe binder for something new to try. It seemed sinful to waste Kobe beef on something like burritos or spaghetti, though I have no doubts it would have been delicious in either. Then I found the perfect recipe — one I had been dying to make for quite some time and had just been waiting for the heat of summer to dissipate. Which, let me tell you, has certainly happened here in rainy Portland. If there was ever a time for some “hibernation food,” it’s now.
So I set to work on making this masterpiece: Meatloaf with Creamy Onion Gravy from the Nov. 2011 issue of Food & Wine. And oh, sweet Jesus, am I glad I did. I thought I made good meatloaf before — I always make it with sautéed onions, carrots and celery and I often use grated Parmesan cheese in it for extra goodness.
But this meatloaf…it was divine. It was magical. I used the entire three pounds of meat and I think it was gone in a two days. I don’t know what happened. Oh wait — I know. It looked like this:
The creamy onion gravy was what made it even more over the top than it already was. I should confess that I almost didn’t even make that part of the recipe. I’m not a big gravy person and thought it would be unnecessary. I shudder to think of what I would have missed. Because this sauce was so freaking good it shot my healthy-eating willpower straight to hell. I was powerless against it.
Oh and speaking of confessions, I should also tell you about the substitutions I made because I like to be honest. Since I was using a beef with the high fat content of about 75/25, I didn’t use any ground pork. I went all beef, all the way. And I didn’t have any Monterey Jack cheese so I used my favorite snacking cheese, Tillamook Extra Sharp White Cheddar, which tasted fantastic in the final product.
It went from this:
Onion gravy aside, what made this lovely log of meaty love so wonderfully addictive? It was tender and moist, which is always key, but the best part was undoubtedly the cheese. The pieces on the outsides, and particularly the bottom of the loaf, were the best. It was that crispy, crunchy cheese that makes you unabashedly search it out, combing each slice on your plate for another taste. And the cheese on the inside was gooey and luscious. All those years of wasting Parmesan in my meatloaf makes me sad, because all it took was some good old-fashioned cheddar to blow it out of the water.
This, my friends, is the king of meatloaf.