Friday, October 2, 2009
Meat loaf and other things.
For the witty, wise and genuinely fucking good Scooter Clowney.
Advent brings renewal which, family reunions and funerals have taught me, brings insight. I apologize that I haven't a picture of the meatloaf I made, though truthfully, it wasn't much to look at--just an aberration of sausage and pecorino romano. But I'll come to that.
I tend to shy away from novelty, though what I've discovered is that in novelty and against veritable odds, we discover our crucial strangeness. In it we are who we are.
I love the homeward novelty of meatloaf--I know, we Americans didn't technically invent it, but then again we didn't invent fire, and yet we know our fires. I made a mess in the kitchen last night at Gooski's, and fed em all--more a credit to decently ground sweet sausage than to my hands, but oh well, I fit the yoke despite another's craftsmanship.
I love how meatloaf and General Tso's and bacon cheeseburgers and chili con queso with Velveetashit iconograph our Americanness. And it disappoints me that in this identification those recipes are somehow deemed bastard. What isn't!? I love Tex-Mex, Cantonese-American, cheese curds in the Mall of America. I love the uncool fusion WAY more than I could ever even tolerate the cool. The starred chefs are ratshit. I love meatloaf.
On a hectic night at Gooski's this decidedly Mediterranean slant on meatloaf was born, breathed and died in the mouths of good people:
I slow-sauteed some finely chopped onion, white mushrooms, celery, and roasted garlic. Get the chop to a virtual sludge state before introducing it to the fire so it bleeds all of its liquor into the meatloaf. Added cumin, paprika and a faint tablespoon of tomato paste. Once the final agent had rusted I dampened it with some dry white wine--I won't pester you with what lousy shit I used, sufficed to say I work in a dive bar--I let it cool.
The difference--to which I added the former, involved a pound of sweet Italian sausage--Donatelli's in my neighborhood makes a reliable one that through either formality or laziness they leave uncased, a self-measuring supply of bread crumbs--I do make my own, pecorino, almond butter whisked into one egg plus one egg yolk, a spoonful of Worcestershire sauce (wouldn't English pharmacists love to believe they invented fish sauce!) and some janky ass habanero hot sauce--Tabasco is for losers!-- we get from Restaurant Depot.
Once incorporated I formed--small in diameter, the thing, and baked in a 350 degree oven for about half an hour. Fair warning, it'll be a moist but brittle projectile. I recommend not only letting it rest before serving, but serving with a fish spatula. Its rewards will come back to you.
But if you're self conscious do this: In a medium hot skillet saute roasted garlic, capers, balsamic vinegar, as much white wine, a shake of salt, of pepper and of sugar, then some tomato paste. heat it through til is forms a ketchupy consistency and taste for garlic, salt and sugary depth--it must reflect the three equally. Smother the plated meatloaf.
As a side I refer you to the above-pictured pastry
It was a one-off kind of dish and it makes a liar of me to even attempt to reconstitute it in writing. Anyhow it went like this: Heavily buttered phyllo dough in a large round stainless steel bowl--about six sheets, none of which ought to point in the same direction.
Once a buttered dough-lined foundation has been established add mixture of the following: 3 roasted then pieced red potatoes, 1 small roasted sliced onion, 1 small head of pieced and parcooked broccoli, and 1 large egg beaten into one heaping tablespoon of sour cream, half a stick of chunked-up unsalted butter, along with a brimming handful of feta--I chose the herbacious Yarra Valley farmed feta from Australia--and not to sound picky but if you can't find it just use a chevre--common feta would only disrupt your accomplishment.
So stir this into a heedless slop and fill the prepared dough bowl. Fold the overstemming ends of the phyllo on top of the filling mixture to encapsulate. Bake in the same 350 degree oven for about half an hour. Drink rye whiskey. Use caution when seeing to the pie, it must brown on all levels. In fact, I removed it from the bowl, flipping it into a saute pan for an additional bake at 400 for another fifteen minutes--both bakes will rely on the stamina of your oven--some burn hotter than others. Just look for doneness: the phyllo should be wholly browned--charred at the peripheries is best, and the contents should have assembled in the fashion of French scrambled eggs, oozy, floppy, you'll want to scoop it hot with your bare hands. Your overuse of butter should result in a golden lava running on the plate. You've done it right.
I made a mustardy roast vegetable soup too, pureed, with a little more of that white wine. But I'll spare you that loveliness.
Cliff Notes version: save the broccoli blanching water from above's pie--three separate diners referred to it as pasty, quiche and that--roast then simmer vegetation of your liking; I prefer carrots, celery, Vidalia onions, red potatoes and boatloads of fresh herbs and roasted garlic. Once the simmer has peaked taste for salt and pepper, add brown mustard and white wine to taste--you want a vinegary flavor--imagine being hungover and drinking pickle juice from the jar. Not quite that overwhelming but at least a hint of that. And of course puree it. Add red peppers flakes if you like...
Have with a fair relatively dry white. Fairer than the one I had, ideally.