I'm not normally a creature of habit in any restaurant. I like to eat through a menu, try everything a chef has to offer.
It's not because I'm judging the place the way restaurant critic Greg Cox does. It is as much curiosity as anything.
However food writers are all thought of as restaurant critics, so when I recommend a place, I want to be fairly certain that the food is good top to bottom. So I joyfully eat everything and rarely order the same thing twice.
The one exception is the grilled meatloaf served for lunch (only lunch) at 18 Seaboard in Raleigh. I've tried to order other things and will gladly eat off your plate, but I love the meatloaf perched atop goat cheese mashed potatoes and a side of garlicky greens and vessel of homemade Worcestershire sauce for dipping. With a starter of perfectly fried oysters to share, it's darn good, simple, sophisticated eating.
Meatloaf has endured many food trends and continues to delight us -- if we remember to cook it. The days of "It's Tuesday. It must be meatloaf" may be past.
Meatloaf can be a delightful inexpensive meal and might just be perfect for the days ahead, whether they are filled with winter's last fling or spring's welcome heat. It is definitely a grand leftover to have now with daylight-saving time. Nothing is much better than a meatloaf sandwich with a green tomato chutney or spicy chow-chow, and it would be a welcome addition to March Madness gatherings starting this week.
This recipe from my dear friend Verla Gabriel is not the ketchup-laced meatloaf many of us know. She has passed but she left me with recipes that seem difficult yet aren't. the recipes are full of flavor and sophistication.
I love this recipe straight from the oven, and it makes a killer sandwich, especially when you use the trick of 18 Seaboard chef Jason Smith and grill a slice. I love the added boldness that 18 Seaboard's homemade Worcestershire sauce delivers.
This recipe uses a blend of beef and pork but is successful with just beef; however, you will need to cut your cooking time by 15 minutes. You can also stretch this meatloaf with the addition of cracker or bread crumbs.
The Knorr soup mix is important. It is not as intense as other brands, which allows all the flavors of the meatloaf to shine. The wine can be replaced by all water and the sour cream can be low- or no fat. I also enjoy making this dish with pasture-raised ground beef and pork for the added flavor, but they not necessary.
Maybe it's time for Tuesday Night meatloaf again. I think this recipe will convince you.