The Meatloaf Recipe
I remember, fairly clearly, the events which led to this particular column. It was a chilly winter evening, late January or early February, and the girls and I had enjoyed a quiet, lazy day. We were now on our way home from a quick trip to Trader Joe’s. I was riding in the backseat of Natalie’s Honda (she’s got a motor back there, too), Nicole was in the passenger seat. The conversation turned from music to food.
And having enjoyed such a lovely day with two dear friends, my thoughts turned to cooking a meal: I wanted to give Natalie and Nicole a little gift; and, anyway, I had been dying to get Natalie over to hear the system. From the moment I had hooked it up, I felt certain that it was exactly what she had been looking for. (Years ago, Natalie had mentioned wanting to convert her LPs to MP3s, but, for one reason or another, she just never got around to it. Nicole couldn’t care less: LPs, MP3s, whatever.)
“Do you like meatloaf, Nat?”
“Do I like meatloaf?!”
The car swerved. We almost crashed into a mountain of snow. My head smacked against the rear window.
“Do I like meatloaf?!” she repeated. “I love meatloaf!”
(Have I mentioned that I adore Natalie? Only moments earlier, she had also confessed her love for Dinosaur Jr. and Three Amigos. What a woman!)
“Hmm,” I said. “Wanna come over next weekend? I’ll make meatloaf.”
That was pretty much it. If you’ve read the column, you know what happens next. (If you didn’t read the column, what the hell is wrong with you?)
I’m a firm believer in music’s ability to enhance and complement any recipe: Hector Lavoe croons while I fry empanadas; Bruce Springsteen encourages while I roast a chicken; Louis Prima entertains while I boil pasta. I like creating the perfect soundtrack to any meal. So, while cooking the meatloaf, I listened to songs that I thought Nicole and Natalie might enjoy: Ceramic Dogs’ “Digital Handshake,” Nick Cave’s “More News from Nowhere,” Dominant Legs’ “My Girls.”
Everything turned out greateven better than I expected, in fact: At home, Natalie now listens to music through the Audioengine 5 loudspeakers and Music Hall USB-1 turntable, and talks about how much she loves the sound.
Nicole’s a different story: She’s not too concerned about the music. As long as she can still watch her episodes of Golden Girls and Shark Week, everything is A-okay.
Nicole did like the meatloaf, though. So did Natalie. Natalie even offered to make it for me upon my return from the Munich High End Show. I sent her a text to let her know that my flight had landed:
ME: So good to be home.
NATALIE: Welcome back! Are you in the mood for meatloaf?
ME: Is this a trick question? I’m always in the mood for meatloaf! But only if you feel like making it.
NATALIE: Today I do!
Before I left for Germany, I had given Natalie my meatloaf recipe, a product of trial and error over many years of meatloaf-eating. While it calls for nothing fancy and is relatively straightforward, Nat was nonetheless nervous. Her prior attempts at making meatloaf had been unsuccessful, she said.
ME: You’ve got nothing to worry about. I’m sure it’ll come out even better than mine.
NATALIE: Doubt it.
Here is the recipe. Let’s call it “My Girls’ Meatloaf.” (Vegetarians might try it with “veggie protein crumbles,” or whatever.)
1/2 stick butter
a lot of garlic, chopped
1 onion, massacred
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup beef broth (I used Wolfgang Puck because I am a label whore)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons Peter Luger's steak sauce (but you can use whatever kind of steak sauce, or omit the steak sauce altogether)
3 tablespoons Tabasco (though a reader has since recommended Frank's Red Hot, which seems like a great idea)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 pounds ground beef (but you can use ground pork or turkey, too)
1 cup breadcrumbs
a little sal-sal-salt and pepper (push it real good)
8 slices of bacon (you can also omit the bacon, but that would be crazy)
Preheat oven to 350.
Melt the butter in a skillet and saute the onions and garlic; when the onions are soft, remove from heat and allow to cool.
Beat together the eggs, beef broth, Worcestershire, steak sauce, hot sauce, and soy sauce.
In a large baking tin or bowl, mix everything together, being careful not to burn your hands (the onions will cool off quickly once combined with the ground beef), while slowly adding the breadcrumbs little by little.
Shape into a pretty loaf!
Bake for about an hour before draping the bacon on top. Bake for another 30 minutes or so. After 90 minutes, check to see if the meatloaf has cooked through.
At around 6pm, starving and tired of working on the show blog, I sent a text to Natalie.
ME: How’s the meatloaf coming along? I bet it smells pretty amazing by now.
She got the hint.
NATALIE: It does! Come over whenever.
I was right: Natalie’s meatloaf tasted far better (and looked far prettier) than mine. Everyone agreed. And Natalie was relieved: “This is a dish I can even make for my parents.” So, there you have itgood enough for us, good enough for Natalie’s epicurean father, good enough for anyone. Meatloaf!
As we move suddenly into summer, meatloaf may not be the first meal on your long list of cravings, but, if you do decide to try the recipe, please let me know how it goes. Do you have any of your own favorite hi-fi recipes? A dish that pairs perfectly with Sonic Youth, Wild Beasts, or Nicki Minaj?