in the kitchen

in the kitchen

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Thyme for Meatloaf

"Meatloaf, schmeatloaf. Double beetloaf." Randy, A Christmas Story. We have at least one meal a year featuring meatloaf, mashed potatoes and red cabbage to honor Ralphie and Randy. But being me, I switch up the meatloaf recipe almost every time. This is the 2012 version. It turned out very nicely.
Meatloaf with Red Peppers, Basil and Thyme
2 teaspoons plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup finely diced sweet onion, divided
1 cup finely diced red bell peppers, divided
1/4 cup chopped artichoke hearts
1 tablespoon minced sun-dried tomaotes, oil packed variety
2 tablespoons chopped olives
2 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, divided
3 tablespoon chopped fresh basil, divided
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 1/3 to 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1 egg
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 cup bread crumbs
3 tablespoons flour
1/3 cup crumbled cooked bacon
4 teaspoons beef stock paste
2 cups hot water
Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add 2 teaspoons oil then 1/2 cup onions to pan and cook, stirring occasionally until onions become translucent. Stir in 1/2 cup peppers and continue to cook until onions become golden and peppers soften. Add the artichoke heart, sun-dried tomato and olive and continue to cook 1 minute. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon thyme and 1 tablespoon basil, salt and pepper over veggie mixture, mix well and remove from heat. Allow to cool for 5 minutes or so. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place ground beef into a large mixing bowl. Add egg, half and half, breadcrumbs and veggies. Mix lightly but thoroughly. Place in a loaf pan and bake for 45 to 50 minutes. Make gravy with the same veggie skillet by adding remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil to the pan. Heat until oil shimmers then stir in remaining 1/2 cup onions. Cook and stir until onions become translucent, add peppers and cook until softened. Add remaining tablespoon thyme and 2 tablespoons basil to skillet and cook briefly. Sprinkle with flour and stir to cook flour slightly. Add bacon to mixture and stir to combine. Dissolve beef stock paste in hot water, then pour into skillet. Stir, scrapping the bottom of the skillet to loosen all the browned bits. Cook until thickened. Check for seasoning, adding salt and pepper if necessary and keep warm for serving. Remove meatloaf from oven and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Slice and serve topped with gravy.
Hints: You can use a food processor to dice and chop your veggies if you like, but I would mix the meat loaf by hand to prevent the texture from becoming too smooth. Use different veggies and herbs if you like, I always do, using what is on hand and fresh works best. The technique of caramelizing some onion with other veggies and then adding a nice herb flavor before adding to the meat loaf is timeless and will serve you well no matter what flavor profile you are going for. Mixing meat is also a time honored scheme; ground pork, turkey or lamb can surface in addition to or in place of the beef. Buffalo, venison or elk also work fabulously. You can use a meat thermometer if you want to make sure the meatloaf is cooked through. A reading of 155 to 160 degrees will give you a perfectly done meatloaf. You can shape the meat loaf and cook it on a baking sheet if you prefer that to cooking it in a loaf pan.

Ralphie and Randy were such cute kids! And they really did enjoy their mother's cooking even though she made the same thing everyday except Christmas. That scene of Randy plunging his face into a plate of mashed potatoes, meatloaf and red cabbage is a classic. The faces of Peter Billingsley and Darren McGavin trying not to laugh... Melinda Dillon laughing so genuinely... and little 5 year old Ian Petrella having so much fun... I laugh out loud every time I see it.


  1. You've lost me the Ralphie and Randy thing, but the meatloaf sounds great!

    1. It is a reference to an old movie called "A Christmas Story" that is set in the US in the 1940's. It is about a young boy and his best Christmas ever. I hope you get a chance to see it sometime. Thanks for the comment--