Archive for Wednesday, March 5, 2008

No limits to the loaf

Contest pays homage to variety in homemade dish

From left, Mike Smith, Jean Knight, Larry Edgell and Dianna Palos sample meatloaf during the Great Lawrence Loaf Off. The event was Sunday at 4-1-1 Studio, 411 E. Ninth St. Five judges sampled 10 different loaves during the contest, and the rest were dished out to patrons.

From left, Mike Smith, Jean Knight, Larry Edgell and Dianna Palos sample meatloaf during the Great Lawrence Loaf Off. The event was Sunday at 4-1-1 Studio, 411 E. Ninth St. Five judges sampled 10 different loaves during the contest, and the rest were dished out to patrons.

March 5, 2008


One of the Loaf Off entries

One of the Loaf Off entries

It can be made with hamburger. Pork. Turkey. Shrimp.

It can contain oatmeal. Bacon bits. Ketchup. Saltines.

It can be dressed up, dressed down, dressed in mashed potatoes.

It is - what else? - meatloaf.

The humble dish is one primed for the winter months, with its hearty texture, straight-from-the-oven warmth and helpful consumption of leftover ingredients. All those things describe exactly why Christina Hoxie loves the dish.

"It's a comfort food to me. It's that kind of 'sweep the kitchen mentality' of taking what you have and making something great from it," says Hoxie, of Lawrence. "It's a creative process, as is all of cooking, but it seems like meatloaf in particular has got a little bit of everything and it's a humble food that you can make with almost anything."

Loaf without limits

And what goes into a favored loaf was a big topic of discussion at the Great Lawrence Loaf Off on Sunday, where Hoxie, Steph Mott, John Reeves, Susan Paxon, Natalie Bye and Jana Mackey ran the event. Dozens of meatloaf lovers from all over Lawrence and the surrounding area convened at 411 E. Ninth St. to sample loaves in a cooking competition.

Lawrence's Sarah Sharma, for example, likes her meatloaf made from pork, saying, "Other than that, I won't eat it."

Dale Kurtz meanwhile, is partial to hamburger, and not the low-fat kind.

"You can't use too lean of hamburger, you've got to use a fat-type hamburger," the Lawrence resident says.

Loaf Off organizer Mott, whose loaf won the people's choice balloting at the event, says that for her, it doesn't matter what's in the loaf.

"For being so traditional, there are so many different ways to prepare it. Any meat, as long as it's in a loaf form, I don't really care," says Mott, whose winning loaf had shrimp and pork in it. "You have to take it and make it your own."

"There are no limits to the loaf."

For the love of the loaf

Walking from her home to the Loaf Off, Kelly Danaher also has a serious love of meatloaf.

"I did not have breakfast because I was so excited about the loaves," Danaher says. "You don't have to be in a certain mind-set, you just have to be into the loaf."

After finally sampling some of the 10 loaves, Danaher says that though she has never attempted making her favorite meatloaf - her mother's - at home, she thinks it is not something that she'd order in a restaurant. No matter how much she likes it.

"It kind of seems almost counterintuitive to me because, you know, meatloaf is what my mom cooked and if we were going out to eat, it would be something more fancy," Danaher says of ordering the dish at a restaurant. "I think of meatloaf as very much ... (something) that you throw together and something that the whole family eats."

Well, maybe not the whole family - or the community - depending on who you ask. Hoxie says that though the humble dish might not appeal to the nonmeat eaters in Lawrence, she and the other meatloaf die-hards who ran the event are hoping their Loaf Off can become something that brings the whole community together.

"I realize it's not for everyone, because we have a lot of vegetarians in our community here and in the future we do hope to expand to vegetarian loaves," Hoxie says. "Just making foods that hearken to our past and our family orientations and our community is what I'd really like to have grow from this tradition. Not necessarily the meatiness of it, though it's fun for us to think about and joke about.

"This is totally tongue in cheek, if you will."

Free-form meatloaf

3 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, grated on the small-hole side of a box grater (about 1 cup)

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 medium onion, chopped fine (about 1 cup)

1 medium celery rib, chopped fine (about 1/2 cup)

1 medium garlic clove, minced (about 1 teaspoon)

2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves

1 teaspoon paprika

1/4 cup tomato juice

1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth

2 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon unflavored powdered gelatin

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2/3 cup crushed saltines

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 pound ground sirloin

1 pound ground chuck


1/2 cup ketchup

1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar

To make free-form pan: Fold aluminum foil to form a 10-by-6-inch rectangle. Center the foil on a metal cooling rack and plan the rack over a rimmed baking sheet. Poke holes in the foil with a skewer, about a half-inch apart. Spray the foil with non-stick cooking spray. This will keep the meatloaf from stewing in its own juices to make a greasy mess.

Adjust over rack to the middle position; heat oven to 375 degrees. Spread cheese on plate and place in freezer until ready to use. Prepare baking sheet.

Heat butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until foaming; add onion and celery and cook stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Add garlic, thyme, and paprika and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Reduce heat to low and add tomato juice. Cook, stirring to scrape browned bits from pan, until thickened, about 1 minute. Transfer mixture to small bowl and set aside to cool.

Whisk broth and eggs in large bowl until combined. Sprinkle gelatin over liquid over liquid and let stand 5 minutes. Stir in soy sauce, mustard, saltines, parsley, salt, pepper and onion mixture. Crumble frozen cheese into coarse powder and sprinkle over mixture. Add ground beef; mix gently with hands until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute. Transfer meat to foil rectangle and shape it into a 10-by-6-inch oval. Smooth top and edges of meatloaf with moistened spatula. Bake until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the loaf reads 135-145 degrees, 55-65 minutes. Remove meatloaf from oven and turn on broiler.

While meatloaf cooks, combine ingredients for glaze in small saucepan; bring to simmer over medium heat and cook, stirring, until thick and syrupy, about 5 minutes. Spread half of glaze evenly over cooked meatloaf with rubber spatula; place under broiler and cook until glaze bubbles and begins to brown at edges, about 5 minutes. Remove meatloaf from oven and spread evenly with remaining glaze. If desired, top with pieces of cooked bacon. Place back under broiler and cook until glaze is bubbling and beginning to brown, 5 minutes more. Let meatloaf cool about 20 minutes before slicing.

- Recipe adapted from "Cook's Illustrated" by Christina Hoxie


Eric Neuteboom 9 years, 9 months ago

Shameful of the organizers to not pay homage to the creators of the contest, the Victor Continental cast and crew. We've been doing this contest for years!

Raider 9 years, 9 months ago

Why is it that the LJW reports about events AFTER they happen instead of telling us about them BEFORE they do, so that interested people can go check them out?

BorderRat 9 years, 9 months ago

"Meatloaf, schmeatloaf, double beatloaf, I hate meatloaf."

beawolf 9 years, 9 months ago

Raider... They did. I remember reading about it in Thursday or Fridays edition. Almost went, but the weather was too nice to start cooking.

GSWtotheheart 9 years, 9 months ago

I use 1# hamburger, 1/2# pork sausage, 2 eggs, 2 tbs barbecue sauce, diced onions, cracker crumbs, 1tbs frozen chopped spinach, and various seasonings-season salt, garlic powder, onion powder, parsley, pepper, and paprika. About 20 minutes before it's done, I glaze it with a mixture of ketchup and barbecue sauce. Makes my mouth water just thinking about it.

Had a friend ask me if I added oatmeal and syrup to my loaf with the barbecue sauce and I got grossed out. Apparently they like their meatloaf sweet at his house...

Different strokes for different folks I guess!

GretchenJP 9 years, 9 months ago

I LOVE the look on Larry's face there. o_O

KansasPerson 9 years, 9 months ago

I hope to heck they do this again sometime. I have a meatloaf recipe that we all just love!!!

I really need to start reading the newspaper regularly again. I need to get up earlier to fit it into my day, maybe.

Caterina Benalcazar 9 years, 9 months ago

There was a fairly extensive article about it in Lawrence dot com! Damn near everything you need to know ever about anything fun to do in this great town is in that publication! And how 'bout that layout?!? Smokin'! But seriously, folks...If anyone cares, here's the recipe for that loaf in the picture above:


1 peeled tart apple 2 small yellow onions 2 TBSP fresh thyme 2 TBSP black pepper 2 tsp. salt 1 egg, beaten 1/4 c. saltine crumbs 2 TBSP milk 1# ground beef (90%lean) 1# ground pork 6-7 slices meaty, thick sliced bacon 1 cup + 3 TBSP fave bbq sauce (for this recipe, I prefer a sweeter molasses-y sauce)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grate the apple and one onion on the large holed side of a box grater into a large mixing bowl. Commence crying and nose blowing. Throw the next 6 ingredients and the 3 TBSP bbq sauce in with the apple and onion. While this slop is soaking together, finely dice remaining onion and add to the slop. Add ground meat and blend well.
Form into a vaguely loaf-like shape and place into a loaf pan. Squish, pinch (ahem) and mold until it fits.
Baste top with a few tablespoons of the bbq sauce. Place bacon slices, width wise, across the top of the loaf and tuck down around the loaf. Baste bacon with a few more spoonfuls of sauce. Put in oven for one hour to 1 hr. 15 minutes, basting a coupla times with the bbq sauce. Voilá! You have a delicious meat loaf!

GSWtotheheart 9 years, 9 months ago

I only add the frozen chopped spinach because I add it to everything I can to get it into my family's diet. I add it to meatloaf, soup, scrambled eggs, zuchini bread, the broth my roasts cook in, pastas with white sauces, salads, vegetables, and a lot of any other things I can.

John Reeves 9 years, 9 months ago

Coach Eric: The night that a few of us came up with the idea for the Loaf Off we had not heard of the Victor Continental Post Party Loaf Off. Steph Mott surprised us with the tales of those who came before us. There is indeed a meatloaf zeitgeist. It's in the air.

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