“I have never run into an unlovable meatloaf, but I have loved some better than others.”
– Laurie Colwin “More Home Cooking”
Meatloaf, the comfort food of 1950s America has long been a palette for cooks. Mix whatever ground meats you like, add bread and seasonings, shape it into a loaf, cover with a sauce and cook it. When it meets with approval, name it after yourself.
Meatloaf recipes are a staple of community cookbooks — those compendiums of recipes that have long been created and sold to benefit a good local cause. An important contribution to this genre is “The Shelter Island Historical Society Cookbook,” the 2013 version of which includes a recipe from Phyllis Wallace for making mini-meatloafs that uses oats instead of bread and improves perfection by adding a cup of shredded cheddar cheese to the meat and spices.
My contribution to meatloaf making starts with beef and pork and relies heavily on flavorings and spices associated with red-cooked pork, a classic Chinese comfort food. Star anise, which is available at the IGA, has an aromatic cinnamon-meets-fennel taste; soy sauce, fish sauce and oyster sauce provide savory umami flavors, and horseradish — preferably purchased from a North Fork farm stand in the past week or so, is the sweet heat to balance it all.
Serves 4, or double the recipe for leftovers
12 ounces ground beef (chuck)
4 ounces ground pork
1 large onion, diced
Two cloves garlic, crushed and diced
1 large beaten egg
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon grated horseradish
1 star anise pod crushed to a fine powder
1 tablespoon fish sauce
2 tablespoons bread crumbs or panko
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine or dry white wine
1 tablespoon oyster sauce
1 slice of bacon
1. Mix the ground beef and ground pork together with a fork. Combine with the minced onion and garlic.
2. Beat the egg in a small bowl and add soy sauce, horseradish, star anise, fish sauce, the bread crumbs, pepper and 1 tablespoon of the wine.
3. Add to the meat and knead the mixture by hand to distribute the seasonings and break up any large lumps of meat.
4. Form the loaf and place it in an oven-proof dish.
5. Mix the remaining tablespoon of wine with oyster sauce. Spread the mixture over the loaf. Drape the bacon over the loaf.
6. Bake at 325 degrees for 50 minutes.