A slice of comfort

February 9, 2015

Do NOT do this without the pickles.

Do NOT do this without the pickles.

One of the great culinary comfort experiences is the meat loaf sandwich. The humble assemblage of leftovers is the stuff of hangover cures, quick lunches, and something to chase the winter chill.

And I have made the best meatloaf sandwich there is to be had. This very day.

I’d made meat loaf on Sunday. I make two kinds of meat loaf; the bacon-barbecue meat loaf, and the basic meat loaf. This was the basic meat loaf, sans onions and green peppers, because I don’t like green peppers and Son-In-Law 2 abhors onions. Instead, I use copious quantities of onion powder and garlic powder. Like this:

  • 2 pounds ground beef, or a pound each of ground beef and pork
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs (I used Rice Chex cereal crumbs, because they’re gluten free and they make a nice imitation of panko)
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire
  • 3 tbsp ketchup or tomato paste
  • Lawry’s seasoned salt, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder to taste
  • More ketchup for the top

The only way to mix this is to squash it all together with your hands. Once it’s all squashed together, pat it into an 8 x 8 baking dish. (You can use a loaf pan, or make it free form, but I prefer a bigger proportion of crust to meat, so I do the 8 x 8.) Glaze the top with another two or three tablespoons of ketchup, and put ‘er in to bake at 350 for about 75 minutes, or  until the ketchup starts to brown in spots.

I’d made a loaf of brioche t’other day. It’s not the best bread for sandwiches — it’s a bit crumbly — but it has a nice texture and flavor. For the cheese, I went all-out — used fromage d’affinois, a wonderful, creamy, buttery cows-milk cheese. Any soft, creamy cheese would work well.

I spread two slices of bread liberally with mayo, sliced the meat loaf about 1/2 inch thick, and added the cheese. Slapped them together, wrapped them in foil, and stuck the sandwich in the oven at 350 for 10 minutes. That didn’t melt the cheese as much as I wanted, so I unfolded the foil and put it back under the broil.

This would be a helluva lot easier if one had a toaster oven. I hate the notion of heating the big oven for a sandwich. But I don’t have a toaster oven, or the space for one. Sigh.

People. All this lacked was some bread and butter pickles to elevate it into Sweet Baby Jesus territory. And y’know what? I had bread and butter pickles, which are a pantry staple at Chez Brockwell. So you know where my lunch was.

The fromage d’affinois got all melty and gooey and dripped down in between the crevices between the slices of meat loaf. The buttery richness of the cheese got all friendly with the tomato-ey sweet-tart tang of the meat loaf, all held together by the earthiness of the bread. Have mercy! It’s worth making meat loaf to have the leftovers.

I’m astounded at the difference the fromage d’affinois makes in this sandwich. I’ve made it with cheddar, I’ve made it with Swiss, I’ve made it with American, but it’s never been as good as it was today.

To be fair, I WAS hungry.

Friends, you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em need to find you some fromage d’affinois for the particular and specific purpose of making meat loaf sandwiches the next time you have meat loaf.

Homemade bread, while a fine thing, is not necessarily a rquirement. Bread and butter pickles, however, are.

You heard it here first.

 

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