One of my favorite meals is meatloaf with mashed potato and gravy, usually accompanied by buttered, frozen peas or green beans. Americans have had an ongoing love affair with this blue plate special since the turn of the 19th century. Meatloaf, a classic way that frugal homemakers stretched their meat rations, has become haute cuisine.
The ancestry of meatloaf spans the globe, but it’s really no more than a country French pate. The basic formula is ground protein, a filler, seasonings and a binder. Beef, veal and pork are often standard, in our house venison and rabbit, are the norm. Don’t rule out chicken, turkey, bear and moose, seafood like scallops and lobster; if it grinds, it can become meatloaf.
The filler keeps the loaf from being too dense; think Panko, rolled oats, corn or potato chips, crackers, rice or chopped veggies. The seasonings are the cook’s license for creativity, and usually an egg or grated cheese acts as the binder.
The abundance of green in my garden, fresh herbs and lovage inspired this meatloaf recipe. The lovage lends a distinctive “spring” flavor, while the bright orange flecks of carrots sweeten the taste. The pistachios add a soft crunch and the opulent flavor.
For supper, we enjoyed Lovage Classic Meatloaf with mashed potato and venison gravy made with a dollop of ketchup. For lunch the next day, the chilled loaf sliced up as elegant as a fine pate, and the flavors were even richer.
LOVAGE CLASSIC MEATLOAF
- 1 cup chopped carrot
- ½ cup chopped lovage ribs or celery
- 1 cup chopped onion
- 3 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 1 egg
- 1 pound ground pork or garlic sausage
- 1½ pounds ground meat (beef venison, turkey)
- 1 teaspoon Sea salt
- 1 teaspoon fresh pepper
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 cup chopped pistachios use bread crumbs for nut free version
- cup ½chopped fresh herbs: thyme lovage leaves, chives, marjoram
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 5-inch by 9-inch loaf pan. Add the ground meat to a large bowl.
- Separate the leaves from the lovage ribs. Finely chop the lovage ribs, carrot, garlic cloves and onion with a knife or in the bowl of your food processor. Add to the bowl.
- Chop the fresh herbs and add to the bowl.
- Add the egg, chopped pistachios, sea salt and peppers to the bowl. Mix well.
- Press the mixture into the greased loaf pan. Garnish the top with some lovage leaves. Bake until set and the internal temperature of the meatloaf has reached 165 degrees, about 1 hour. Remove the pan from oven and let sit for 5 minutes. Invert onto a serving platter and garnish the platter with fresh lovage leaves. Slice and serve.