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Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Meatloaf

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Time passes by faster than we realize and it is almost July.

A half year has slipped through my fingers with probably nothing concrete to show that I have made the most of it. The past days have been pretty gloomy on this side of the world. The weather has turned itself into a November mood as I have. Closed as a clam shell, surrounded by a silent and quiet sea of apathy, I find myself cornered in dark places. It is hard to escape reaching for the surface. No bait, or fisherman plunging his hands into these waters to bring me to a different future, and I can’t swim.

In these days of senseless sadness I just wish to retire under the blankets and sleep, hoping for dreams depicting a better reality, a more meaningful one perhaps.

Eventually the sun comes lurking out of the clouds warming up our bodies and hearts.

Today the sun is out.

No dreams the past night, just a heart full of wishes and hope; the same one that woke up to a better day. What does make it better then? If only I knew…

All is the same, the routine, the air, the places, the people. All seems repetitive and at times pointless. Nevertheless we must go forward to find better things, to find any things.

For as much commitment and dedication as you have, one alone is not enough.

I often think that personal relationships have something of cannibalistic. We feed on the other energies, inspirations, aspirations to reset the stale batteries of our soul.

Creative jobs require this process the most. To create from oneself for oneself is a sterile and pointless activity; we need inspiration, we need to inspire.

Sometimes I wonder how those destructive artistic figures of the past like Caravaggio or Michelangelo, or as reclusive as Leonardo could have gone on day after day powered only by their own inner fire.

Was it curiosity? Need to affirm themselves? Need to demonstrate to the world their values? They had something more but all of them ended up dying alone…

Probably that is the demon that every now and again comes to torture my days, the dark veil over my eyes, the fumes that obnubilate my cognitive abilities: the fear of living a lonely and pointless existence.

Time passes and nothing changes, or does it? Are we really able to perceive and recognize the changes that punctuate our life on a short-term basis? The daily routine often engulfs our perception to the point that we wished we were able to unplug our brain and fall onto the floor e/motionless, enjoying the complete stillness of thoughts and actions.

Despite everything we reach the end of the day and want to treat ourselves to something worth the effort.
“Soul food” was made for this.
Meatloaf is one of the food items that can either be dreadful or evocative. It is simple, straightforward, no bothers to the mind and a dinner savior.

Meat gives you something to chew, to work on and the endless combination of herbs, spices and side dishes you can serve it with make you interested.
And a little smile starts to appear on your lips.

The version I am proposing you today, doesn’t even need any side dish since they are already in it and it is also gluten-free.
It is good for your body as it is for your soul.

“Don’t ask, Don’t tell” Meatloaf

Ingredients (serve 4-6):

  • 125g bacon/speck dices
  • 250g mushrooms, diced
  • 500g celery, onions, carrots
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • 1tbsp corn flour
  • 500g ground meat
  • 1/2tbsp black peppercorns, grinded
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1tbsp corn flour
  • 2 handfuls of mint, minced (roughly 2tbsp) or to taste
  • 125g feta, diced
  • 1tsp herbes de Provence, grinded
  • 1/2tsp corn flour
  • Parmesan, grated.

Method:
To start we want to prepare all those ingredients that need a pre-cooking and that is the bacon and the mushrooms.
Start with the bacon dices; let them crisp up slightly in a skillet placed over medium fire. Transfer them into a bowl and let cool down. In the same skillet sauté the mushroom dices over medium-high fire in the bacon fat (add a little vegetable oil if your bacon was particularly lean). Once they will be browned but not completely dried up, transfer them with the bacon dices and let cool down.

In the meantime process the mirepoix (onion, carrots and celery) in a kitchen robot so to have them finely minced. Add the corn flour and pulse a few extra times to combine.

Warm up the oven to 180C/360F.

In the bowl of your standing mixer (equipped with the paddle attachment) combine the ground meat with the black pepper, salt, egg, corn flour and minced mint. Add the minced mirepoix, sautéed bacon and mushrooms and combine thoroughly.
To test for seasoning, take a little dollop of the meatloaf mixture (1tsp or so) and cook it as a miniature hamburger in a warm skillet.

For the filling, in a bowl combine the diced feta cheese with the pulverized herbes de Provence and the corn flour.

Oil slightly a baking tray and spread half of the meatloaf mixture so to form a rectangle of roughly 1cm/0.5″ in thickness. Place the feta filling in the center, leaving a margin of at least 1cm/0.5″ all around. Cover with the rest of the meatloaf mixture and seal properly with the base sheet.

Give the meatloaf a rounded top or a flat one to your liking and sprinkle it generously with grated Parmesan. Bake it for 30-40min or until a thermometer inserted in the meatiest part registers 70C/160F. If the top hasn’t developed a crust yet, turn on the grill to its maximum setting, move the meatloaf pan closer to it and let glaze for few minutes.

Let the meatloaf cool down slightly before serving.

This meatloaf is best served with a basil tomato sauce livened up with some lime juice.

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About Alessio Fangano