Saturday, September 18, 2010

"How to Eat Better for Less Money" by Janes Beard - Old-Fashioned Beach Meat Loaf

Date I made this recipe: September 20, 2010

How to Eat Better for Less Money by James Beard and Sam Aaron
Published by: Simon and Schuster
© 1954, 1970
Recipe: Old-Fashioned Beach Meat Loaf – p. 100

When I was in my hometown visiting my dad in August of this year, one of the things I found was a fee statement from my undergraduate alma mater. The year was 1977, my sophomore year. The fee per credit hour was (brace yourselves parents of current college students) - $25.00. That’s right - twenty five dollars a credit hour. By my calculations, my dad (who paid for my education with U.S. Savings Bonds) was out a whopping $3,200 and change for my four-year degree. But of course that was a lot of money back then.

Well talk about how times have changed. By contrast, my law school education cost a lot more…and I mean a LOT more. I don’t think $25.00 even touched the cost of one of my books. I mean, I know it’s been a while but really—does it cost that much more to teach students today than it did 33 years ago?

So speaking of today, let’s do some fast forwarding. I toyed with getting either an MBA or a law degree and finally decided on law because I wouldn’t have to take statistics or the GMAT that contained math—I hate math and it hates me. (And for the record – calculating billable hours is “law math” and I stink at that as well). I was what was known as a “second career student”—someone who had a career and was looking to change it up. Yes, well, all I can say is I wish I would have read the fine print about how unemployable an older female law graduate would be. (But that’s another story best told over cocktails to other older female law school graduates who are in the same boat. We p&m and order more drinks and suddenly things look brighter…unless we’re in a dimly-lit bar to begin with, of course!).

Since graduating, I have pretty much been forced to become a legal contractor (some would say “whore”), going where the job is for as long as the jobs last. And in a “who would have thought” moment, contract jobs in corporations are generally more stable than jobs at a law firm where litigation support (for those in the know—“document review”) jobs can last for three days or three minutes...and you never know which until you get there. (I swear to you the drill goes like this: They say “The project will last 3 months.” And then two minutes after you’re in it to win it, it changes to: “Did we say 3 months? We meant 3 weeks. Did we say 3 weeks? We meant 3 days. Did we say 3 days? We meant 3 hours…”)

The current job I’m on (back at a corporation I worked for last summer) was supposed to come to an end this past Friday but at the last minute I got a stay of execution. So instead of hearing “One day you’re in...but please pack your knives and go” I heard: “We’re thinking three more weeks.”

By this time, of course, the loin-girding had already started as I performed a mental lockdown on our checking account. I’ve gotten over the stigma of going on and off unemployment but haven’t quite come to grips with the fact that my “hourly” on unemployment is equivalent to a salary last seen by me somewhere around the year 1977! Well, even for that time period, that was a little much so let’s go with
1987. Final answer.

Anyway...feeling the need to cook something on a budget, I pulled out James
Beard’s How to Eat Better for Less Money book. And then promptly cracked up laughing because many of the recipes called for cuts of meat that I consider to be expensive—like saddle of lamb, or even the veal used in my meatloaf (one package was priced at a whopping $8.50—for meatloaf?!) Had I not found a cheaper package of veal, I would have just gone with pork and ground beef although even that would also have been expensive; my recipe called for four pounds of meat. (Well mooo-oooo!) Instead, I made a half recipe and that was more within my budget.

This recipe was good and flavorful and somewhat cheap but you know what, it wasn’t my mom’s. Talk about economical—my mom used oatmeal as filler and that’s the taste I wanted. This one was close, but no cigar. And I didn’t use the amount of bacon called for because I considered that overkill and more expensive (I can buy my bacon by the slice at Whole Foods). But this was fine and we have leftovers and that is the whole point of meatloaf, am I right?

So kids, for three more weeks, I get to earn enough money to sweeten the pot to perhaps make something a little more expensive next week…or not. We’ll see where the recipe wind takes me. But for now I’m safe…and I didn’t even need to cook the meal of my life or channel Jackie Kennedy to do so. (And for those of you lost in America, I reference Top Chef and Project Runway; same with the “one day you’re in…” quote above).

In the words of Tim Gunn from Project Runway - “Make it work…”

Old-Fashioned Beach Meat Loaf (“Beach meatloaf?” As opposed to your “alley” meatloaf or your “swamp meat loaf”???!!) (This is the full recipe but I don’t know how many it is intended to feed. My guess is a lot!)
2 pounds chopped beef, ground twice
1 pound chopped pork, ground twice
1 pound chopped veal, ground twice
1 large onion, chopped or grated
1 carrot, grated
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon rosemary leaves, crushed
½ bay leaf, crushed
2/3 cup fresh bread crumbs
2 eggs
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
Bacon or salt pork strips

Mix all ingredients but bacon or salt pork together and knead thoroughly. Press down. Form into a tight loaf and place on strips of bacon or salt pork in a shallow baking pan. Cover with more strips of bacon and bake in 350 oven, basting frequently for 1 ½ to 2 hours, according to the size of the loaf. (Beard’s note: “This is delicious hot, but even better cold, when it resembles a good pate de campagne of the French provinces. It must not be baked in a loaf pan and it must be well pressed together with the hands before baking).

And now here are my notes: Get out a Cuisinart. Dump in your onion and your carrots and pulse until the vegetables are finely chopped. Add all ingredients, including the meat, turn the thing on and walk away for a minute. Blend the ingredients, turn it back on, walk away for another minute, come back and dump the mixture in a shallow pan. You will not believe how finely ground your ingredients are. Shape with hands then cover with some strips of bacon (as opposed to practically wrapping the thing in bacon like a snuggi), and bake for 1 hour or until the internal temp reaches 165. Serve. Eat the leftovers for several days until the meatloaf is gone or you can’t take it any more!

No comments: