The Best Meatloaf Ever

Back in the mid’80’s when UCLA had a great curriculum of extension courses in cooking, a friend took several of them over the years. This recipe is from a little old lady (her words, not mine) that she said reminded her of Julia Child. This recipe looks like a lot of work, but it's so worth it. The cepes and ham really add a great deal of flavor so don't leave them out. And puhleeeze don't use plain old white mushrooms. Cepes have such a wonderful depth of taste that white buttons can't ever hope to aspire to.

Pate de Boeuf a la Ma Cousine
1 1/2 oz. dried cepes (also called porcini)
1 c. warm water
3 T. hot milk 
2 slices white bread trimmed and cubed
1 1/2 lb. very lean ground beef
2 egg yolks, whisked
1 1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. freshly ground pepper
1/2 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 c. finely chopped ham
1 T. vegetable oil
1 T. butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 large shallots, minced fine
3 T. tomato paste
1/2 c. Madeira wine

1. Soak cepes (pronounced “sapes” with a hard "a") in warm water for half an hour.  Drain, saving liquid.  Pour liquid into a sieve lined with double thickness of paper toweling, set aside.  Chop mushrooms, set aside.

2. My version:  If you're impatient, like me at times, I don't bother with most of #2. No hot milk, no cubed bread, I just toss it all together and mix with my hands. I use 1/2-3/4 c. bread crumbs and cold milk. I substitute finely chopped onion for scallions and use the whole egg vs. just yolks.

The actual recipe:  Mash bread cubes in milk until they have absorbed it all .  Place beef in a large bowl and fork bread through it until mixture is well homogenized. Place the oil and butter in a skillet to heat.  Add garlic, shallots and half the chopped cepes.  Cook until shallots are soft, cool and add to the meat mixture, along with egg yolks , salt, pepper, Parmesan and ham.  Using your hands, blend the mixture lightly but thoroughly. 

3. Lightly oil a four to five cup rectangular terrine , preferably with a lid (I use a bread/loaf pan and aluminum foil to cover).  Pat the meat out to a roll the same length as the terrine, forming it firmly to eliminate any holes.  Place meat roll in terrine, tucking it in snugly.

4. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

5. In a sauce pan, add tomato paste (I use the kind in the tube which I keep in the fridge) to mushroom liquid, along with remaining mushrooms, and wine. Heat to almost boiling, reduce by a third and pour over the pate, cover and bake half an hour. (I often will make a second batch to use when I reheat leftovers.)

6. Remove cover (foil), reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake half and hour longer.  Let rest in pan about 15 minutes. Insert a clean knife to test for done-ness. It should come out clean.

7. The pate may be served hot, at room temperature or chilled and it's delicious warmed up. 

On occasion I still make the old-fashioned kind of meat loaf from my 1968 Betty Crocker cookbook with Quaker oats, which is great for sandwiches the next day (just add catsup) but as a dinner, the sauce and ingredients in the Pate Boeuf just put this version over the top. Enjoy!

As I was writing this, I had to look something up and you know how that goes. On the web, one thing leads to another and suddenly it's an hour later! I found what looks like a really yummy meatloaf recipe over on A Feast for the Eyes. Debby's also found another innovative way to cook the loaf without the loaf pan plus the glaze that goes over it makes it a definite  candidate for the next time I make meatloaf. (Not too much of a run-on sentence there huh?) If the weather holds and doesn't get hot, that'll be sooner than later.

I have to get all my stove/oven/indoor/comfort food cooking done before summer hits. Summer in So Cal is when most sane people opt for grilling rather than heating the house up with one's oven and sending the AC's electric bill through the roof. Anyhow, check out her blog, there are some amazing and delicious recipes there with great photos! 

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