meatloaf

Hi everyone, in lieu of my usual Tuesday recipe, I have some really exciting news to share.

As many of you may know, I’m a regular contributor to the Paleo Magazine Radio podcast, hosted by my friend Tony Federico (author of Paleo Grilling). About a year ago, Tony and I were discussing future collaborations, and in a fit of inspiration, we started tinkering with a new project — which is making its debut today.

Deep Dish combines our collective interests — in recipe development, historical research, and radio broadcasting — to create something truly unique. We decided to make a deep dive into one single meal, researching its entire history and recipe-testing it to perfection, then sharing that story. Instead of a cookbook with many recipes (where you honestly may only cook a few of the recipes), we wanted to focus the project on one delicious dinner – no more, no less. Once we had completed the recipe development, we got together to record four radio shows highlighting the dishes, their history, cultural significance, and our experience with the project.

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Meatloaf is a dish that changes with age: it is often reviled by children and treasured by parents. It makes sense, actually. Kids like to know what’s in their food, and meatloaf is the antithesis of this idea; it’s just a brown hunk of mystery, coupled with a nagging feeling that there are vegetables inside. Adults like meatloaf because it’s a way to eat many ingredients at once, with minimal effort. Personally, I think that a perfectly-cooked meatloaf is appealing to both sides of the coin: easy to make but tasty enough for everyone to enjoy. To ensure a perfectly-roasted loaf, I developed a recipe that uses a water bath to keep the oven moist and cook everything evenly.

Meatloaf has origins in many countries, spread throughout the world. It’s universally considered a comfort food. Some of my favorite variations include Jewish Klops (made with boiled eggs inside), Czech Sekaná (with pickles and sausage inside), and Austrian Faschierter Braten (wrapped in ham or bacon before baking). The American variation rose to popularity during the Great Depression, when families tried to stretch food out to last longer. Americans typically added breadcrumbs to help bind and add volume to the dish, and the tradition persists today. The truth is that a well-cooked meatloaf doesn’t really need a breadcrumb binder – mushrooms work just fine, and add some great flavor as well.

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