Meatloaf is an interesting food. On one end of the spectrum, it can be a sad slab of factory meat on bland mashed potatoes drowned in burned, salty gravy at some diner. On the far end, it can be a terrine of elegant subtlety and refinement made from quality components, especially if it’s treated more like a pâté and cooked gently in a bain-marie. There’s plenty of room between these extremes, and that latitude allows a dish like this to be an excellent showcase for the only two things that matter in cooking: ingredients and technique. You get exactly as much out of a meatloaf as you put in to it.
In this case, that was two pounds of local, grass-fed ground beef worked together with garlic, salt, pepper, “housemade” breadcrumbs and a fistful of herbs. I just dug, potted, and brought in most of the herbs, so it’s a much shorter walk to get them, which is nice. I also added a bunch of chopped greens from the root vegetables I pulled to go under the meat: turnip, beet, radish (daikon, black, watermelon) and carrot, though no carrot greens went in the mix. No egg, because there weren’t any at the famers’ market today. I packed it into a pyrex loaf pan and put it in the oven, where a butternut squash was already roasting merrily away. I sautéed all the roots plus a fennel bulb, a shallot, and halved sungold tomatoes (added at the end, off the heat) in a bit of the duck fat left from the confit, and made a sauce from tomato purée, mustard, raspberry vinegar, wine, sriracha, and a drop of honey and let it reduce and thicken a bit.
That was it. Those skinny green things are pickled arugula seed pods, which added a nice sharp mustardy note. The meat was rich, juicy, and very flavorful; I took it out of the oven when it was at 135˚ in the middle and rested it for a few minutes. The roots were al dente and earthy/sweet, and the sauce was like ketchup but better in all ways. I opened a 2006 Dr. Konstantin Frank Cabernet Franc to go with this. Tart, lean, and with plenty of middleweight tannin, I think another couple of years will see it peaking. It doesn’t have the dusky complexity of a Chinon or the sweet fruit of a Borgueil, but for something from New York it’s quite good. I wish it cost a tad less than $20 ($18 with case discount) because then I’d be all over it. Next up I’m going to try their pinot.