Pass the meatloaf–again

My husband stared at me in wide-eyed shock.

“You NEVER do that!” he said. “You never take more just because it tastes good.”

He’s right. Part of portion control for me is to put what’s reasonable on my plate and never go back for seconds.

Today I made an exception, because today I made the best meatloaf that’s ever come out of my oven. And that’s saying a lot for me, who loves meatloaf and experiments with it constantly.

I’ll share what I did, with two warnings: if you don’t like zingy food,

Meatloaf--what's left

Meatloaf–what’s left

you won’t like this; and be prepared to slip-slide through the ingredients a bit, because I never measure.

I started with about a pound of ground chuck from our local butcher, very lean and very good. I added one egg; maybe half a sleeve of soda crackers, ground fine; a one-inch thick slice of a large onion, chopped, but not real fine; half a teaspoon of Italian seasoning; a generous sprinkling of garlic salt; maybe half a teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes; “sweet and tangy” cherry barbecue sauce; a couple tablespoons of mustard; and finally, the best part: a slotted soup spoon full of hot giardiniera in olive oil, diced. I drained off most of the olive oil, but wasn’t too fussy about getting it all.

I mixed all that well, using my hands, of course–is there any other way?–and plopped it in a casserole dish. Baked it for 1 hour at 350°, and the result was absolutely excellent.

There might be another secret to this meatloaf: I made the hot giardiniera myself. My husband and I were frustrated at not being able to fine the hot variety in our local stores, so we found a recipe online–sorry, I can’t remember where–and I made some a few days ago. It will get better as it sits, but I couldn’t wait to try it. Thus the meatloaf.

Giardiniera, Day 1

Giardiniera, Day 1

I was surprised at how easy it is to make the giardiniera, so if you want to make that meatloaf as close to mine as possible, you might want to make the giardiniera, too. For that, I do have a recipe. Someone named Jeff Mauro first posted it, and I hope he won’t mind my sharing.

1/4 cup table salt
1 cup small-diced carrots
1 cup tiny cauliflower florets

Giardiniera, Day 2

Giardiniera, Day 2

4-8 serrano peppers, sliced (depending on heat level desired)
2 cloves garlic, minced (I used four. We love garlic)
1 stalk celery, diced small
1 red bell pepper, diced small
2 cups canola oil (I used olive oil because it’s healthier and I like the flavor)
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Day 1, combine 2 cups water and the salt in a glass or non-reactive bowl. Mix until the salt is dissolved. Add the carrots, cauliflower, serranos, garlic, celery and bell pepper to the salt water and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Day 2, drain and rinse the vegetables. In a clean bowl, mix together the oil with the oregano and pepper Add the vegetables and mix to combine. Allow to marinate overnight. Giardiniera will only get better with time. After 2 days at the most in the bowl, you can place it in air-tight mason jars and keep in the fridge for at least 2 to 3 weeks.

What you don’t use in a meatloaf you can mix with meat for hamburgers or spoon over the top, serve on Italian beef sandwiches, toss into salads, add to ham or egg salad–the possibilities are endless.

But the meatloaf–ahh, that’s worth coming back for seconds!

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About Monica Sawyn

I'm a retired newspaper reporter/columnist, and although I still freelance, I miss the weekly column I used to write. I still "see columns" in everyday life and need a place to put them after they're written--thus, this blog. I'm Catholic, have been a Benedictine oblate since 1977, and live with my husband and our beagle in Sturgeon Bay, Wis. When I'm not writing, I'm probably reading, sewing, taking photos or walking the dog.
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