The beauty of this meatloaf and gravy is that they share several essential ingredients: mushrooms, dry sherry and garlic. While this recipe uses just ground pork and veal, if all you can get your hands on is the meatloaf mix combo, go ahead, the flavor profile won’t be too heavily altered.
Soaking the bread in the milk gives the meatloaf its tender texture. The bread should be wet but not drenched, so squeeze it gently to remove excess liquid. Then chop it all up into very small pieces. You don’t want big hunks of bread marring the perfect loaf.
This ridiculously flavorful vegetarian gravy will satisfy even the heartiest meat-eaters. Along with sherry and tomato paste, dried porcini mushrooms (available in the produce sections of large supermarkets) replicate the savory flavor of drippings. It has to be up there as one of the best gravies we’ve ever had!
*1 cup porcini soaking liquid from rehydrating above mushrooms
3 large thyme sprigs
6 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
Freshly ground black pepper
Rehydrate porcini mushrooms by pouring 1 cup of boiling water over them in a heat-proof bowl. Let soak 15 minutes. Drain liquid into 1 cup measure, squeezing porcinis over container to remove all liquid. Strain through a very fine sieve to remove any grit from liquid, and set aside. (Add more water if necessary to equal 1 full cup.)
In a medium saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat.
Add onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 5 minutes.
Add garlic; cook 1 minute more.
Add tomato paste; cook, stirring until color deepens, about 2 minutes.
Add sherry; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until reduced slightly, about 3 minutes.
Add broth, strained mushroom liquid, rehydrated mushrooms and thyme sprigs; bring to a boil. Simmer 15 minutes.
Strain again through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, pressing on solids (discard solids). Do not wash pan.
Melt remaining 6 tablespoons butter in the same saucepan over medium heat. Add flour; cook, whisking, 1 to 2 minutes (don’t let flour brown).
Add about 1/2 cup of the hot broth, whisking to blend. Add remaining broth a bit at a time, whisking until mixture is smooth. Season with pepper.
Folks in much of the U.S. start to breathe a sigh of relief as the temps and humidity become more humane. With the welcome respite, we start craving comfort foods that haven’t made appearances on our dinner table since the early Spring. Meatloaf comes to mind as one of those cool-weather comfort foods, and here’s one with a local twist: Philly Cheesesteak Meatloaf.
I found this recipe on dinnerthendessert.com and decided it was worth a try, after all Philadelphia is our “mother” city, the place we refer to when on vacay and asked where we call home. It contains not only ground beef but green bell peppers, onions and mushrooms, and is topped and stuffed with provolone cheese. Not exactly haute cuisine, but certainly worth a try. And BTW, it is fantastic leftover!
Typically I like to serve mashed potatoes with meatloaf, but The Hubs suggested we pair it with a Farmers Market Ratatouille recipe found in our latest issue of Fine Cooking magazine. It is an example of simple food, prepared in a way to let humble ingredients shine that gets even tastier as it sits. You could even make it the day before, let the flavors meld in the refrigerator and reheat it when ready. A win-win in my book.
For a touch more depth of flavor, I included 1 teaspoon dried oregano, two dried bay leaves and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Keep in mind, the ratatouille is done in a slow cooker and takes over 6 hours total including the prep, so plan ahead. But you will love it because it’s rich in flavor, gluten-free, vegetarian, and absolutely delicious! If you have a non-meat eater in the household, they could make this their main course along with a hefty slice of crusty bread.
The directions instruct to employ a 6-quart slow cooker. We used our 7-quart model and it was filled to the brim initially, but everything cooked down to about half by the end. So you might want to start with a larger cooker if you have one. Oh, and feel free to throw in any errant veggies you may have lurking in the fridge. We had one cooked ear of corn, so I shaved off the kernels and threw them in for the last several minutes before the basil.
1 medium eggplant, trimmed and cut into 1/4-inch dice
3 medium Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 large red onion, coarsely chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 medium yellow bell pepper, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
1 medium zucchini, trimmed and cut into 3/4-inch dice
1 medium yellow summer squash, trimmed and cut into 3/4-inch dice
2 dried bay leaves
1 tsp. dried oregano
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 lightly packed cup thinly sliced basil
Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the garlic, remove from the heat, and let cool 5 minutes
Stir in the tomato paste until smooth.
Combine all of the prepped veggies (except the basil) in a 6-qt. (or larger) slow cooker. Add the tomato paste mixture, bay leaves, dried oregano, red pepper flakes, 1 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; stir well.
Cover and cook on low until the vegetables are tender, about 5 hours.
Remove the lid, and continue cooking until some of the liquid evaporates, about 30-45 minutes.
Stir in the basil, season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve or cool and refrigerate until ready to eat.