Comfort Food & Memories from my New England Childhood: Meatloaf, Egg Noodles & Peas

Eats: Meatloaf, Egg Noodles & Peas
Tunes:  Pass the Peas and Meatloaf on Spotify [but missing songs! see below]
Dinner Convo:
  Trip down memory lane, with Mom

Intro

We love eating ourselves around the world – both geographically and virtually – but sometimes it’s also good to go back to our roots.  I have fond memories of eating meatloaf, sometimes “frosted” with mashed potatoes and sometimes with butter-covered egg noodles.  Lunch the next day was also delicious, on ketchup-covered bread.  Peas were also a staple, though I don’t recall them having butter or pepper.

It creates a loaf big enough to serve 8 and still have leftovers.  They make easy lunchbox sandwiches, or go nicely into a meatball parm sandwich.

lunchbox: meatloaf sand on a brioche bun

Tunes

This playlist is on the one hand ridiculous, and on the other, completely authentic.  I came into this meal thinking I’d compile a bunch of songs from my childhood that complimented the memories that came flooding with each bite of meatloaf, noodles or peas, but then i also thought it would be fun to take a literal spin.  In the end it’s both, and fun.

It leads with Harry Chapin’s Cats in the Cradle because out of the blue my son approached the dinner table singing that song.  That song would certainly have been one of the first I would have added to the playlist of my childhood, so it spooked me a bit that though something completely different was playing via our Sonos that song was in his head.  But it was a perfect entree, because the kids knew that song held many memories from my childhood, and from there I launched into why I had chosen the foods for the night.

Next is some Meat Loaf.  Not cuz I enjoy the song necessarily, but it was fun to tell the kids the name of the artist, and that their dad and I must have heard it a zillion times at parties and bars. Moving right along, the second meat reference came in the Form of meat Puppets which induced a high school flashback.  Not sure I even let it finish before moving onto a Gorillaz song as a nod to Noodle, and sharing the premise of the band w/ kiddos.

And then finally, the moment I’d been waiting for: Maceo Parker’s ‘Pass the Peas’!!!  I could bop to that all day. I think it was the first show I dragged hubby to, back in 2001, in San Francisco.  Anyway, it’s hard to stay still with Maceo Parker on, so the dance party soon commenced.  We also grooved to ‘Shake Everything You Got,” but it’s not adding to the playlist for some reason.  We also did go back to Pass the Peas’ a time or 2 more.  So good!!

UPDATE: I don’t know why select songs of Maceo’s “Life on Planet Groove” album aren’t available on Spotify?  Namely, the 2 that I note above, and are NEEDED to make this playlist??  I added them from my own collection but they didn’t remain on the playlist… need to look into it for the playlist… but also for me going forward because it’s game over w/ my Spotify premium account if I can’t share the necessary songs!

Eats

While the meatloaf cooks, boil up some water for the egg noodles, and heat a small sauce pan for the peas.  For the peas, brown 2 2bsp of butter, add 1/2 a bag of frozen peas, and a teaspoon of water and stir.  Add a bit more salt and a generous amount of black pepper.  cook until water has nearly evaporated.   By then the water should be boiling for the noodles. When done, toss with lots of butter. MMMMM

Ingredients

Loaf

  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 2 small yellow onions
  • 2 small carrots
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup Heinz Organic Ketchup*
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • Fresh black pepper to taste (at least a tsp)
  • 1 tbsp hot sauce (optional)
  • 3/4 cup of panko (or more to loaf consistency)

Glaze / topping

  • 1 red onion cut into thin rings
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbps ketchup
  • 1 tbsp packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • More black pepper

 

ready to go in the oven

Process

Glaze / topping

  1. Heat oil in a pan, and add onion rings, stirring to coat.
  2. Just as they begin to brown a bit in places, add 2 tbsp of water and cook until most of the water. has evaporated, then turn off the heat and allow them to cool.
  3. While the onions cook, mix the ketchup, brown sugar and olive oil until smooth.

Loaf

  1. Preheat oven to 400, and prepare a wire rack atop a small sheet pan with a piece of parchment paper atop the rack to prevent the loaf from falling through.
  2. In a food processor, pulse the onions, carrots and garlic until they are diced.
  3. In a small bowl, beat the eggs, then add the ketchup, salt, pepper, and hot sauce if using.
  4. In a large bowl, put the pork and beef, then the ketchup/egg mixture, and combine with your hands (don’t forget to remove any rings!  Somehow I still do, sometimes).
  5. Before fully combined, add panko and continue to mix with fingers until well combined.
  6. When well combined, and it has reached a consistency that will keep its shape as a loaf, shape the meat loaf mixture into a long  loaf, with a maximum of about 3 inches tall in the center.
  7. Brush the entire loaf with the glaze, add some fresh black pepper, and then add the onions (unless using a small toaster oven – see below), spreading them across the top of the loaf.
  8. Bake for 30 minutes, then insert a meat thermometer, and spread the onions on top of the loaf.
  9. Continue cooking for another 25 minutes or so, until the meat reaches 160 degrees Fahrenheit in the center.
  10. Let the meat cool on the rack for 15 minutes.
  11. Slice and enjoy! Is great immediately, as well as cold or warmed up the next day or two. YUM.

Notes

  • To quote the Martha Stewart Living cookbook: “Ketchup is essential to flavoring the meat loaf; there is no substitute.”
  • I like using panko as the breadcrumbs, though Martha would disapprove and only use fresh bread, crumbed.  Growing up, oatmeal would often be added and only when typing that did I remember that I had added an oatmeal/panko mixture the last time I made this, and liked it.
  • I do agree with Martha that doing it free-form is the best way to get the nice roasted crust on a maximum amount of the surface.  Having tested the glaze on parts of the loaf this time, I can confidently say that you shouldn’t skip this part, or the onion topping.
  • If using my small Breville toaster oven again, I’d put the onions on after 15 minutes because they were too close to the heat source and were blackening.  If they hadn’t been blackening so badly, I might have left it in a minute more to crisp the crust of the loaf some more.
  • *I have no relationship w/ Heinz, it’s just the best tasting ketchup, and the organic version doesn’t have corn syrup.

Dinner Convo

I remember reading about the importance of children knowing details in this piece in the times.  And what better time to do that then over the dinner table?  Involving all senses at once, cementing the memory.