MY SON fancies himself a meat loaf connoisseur, and like generations of Americans who’ve come before him, he has a very personal attachment to a certain meat loaf recipe.
If you think I’m going to say “His mom’s!” think again.
The loaf my mini-me adores is his own. He makes it with a mix of ground beef and lamb, diced onion and kosher pickles, and always adds a shredded carrot, something he no doubt learned while watching me make spaghetti Bolognese.
No offense — as His Teenage Majesty so often says before offending me or my cookery — but I can take or leave the loaf he’s been perfecting since middle school.
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Jane’s Curry Meat Loaf? That’s another story.
Jane’s long-loved recipe, sweet with apples and raisins, comes infused with the bewitching flavor of Madras curry powder. Which might sound offensive to you, but only because you haven’t tried it hot out of the oven slathered with Major Grey’s chutney or (better yet) sliced cold the next day.
I’m certain bartender Isaac Sussman, who plies his craft in Cambridge, Mass., would agree with me. But then he grew up eating Jane’s Curry Meat Loaf, which according to his mother — the aforementioned Jane — got special billing on the menu when her husband, Paul, opened his first Cambridge restaurant, Daddy O’s. Only there it was called Aunt Netta’s Meatloaf, named for Jane’s aunt, whose recipe has been wowing family on two coasts for three generations.
Back when I first tasted it, Isaac the bartender, now 30, was still drinking from a sippy cup, meat loaf was on my “No, thanks!” list and I’d made the mistake of saying yes the night his mother invited me to stay for dinner. At least that’s what I thought before tasting her nod to Aunt Netta.
Jane’s meat loaf was a turning point for this (former) meat loaf loather, and I’ve been making it ever since. Only these days I’m taking pointers from my kid, who suggested I ditch the all-beef version, go for beef and lamb, and divvy Jane’s finest using our set of mini-cocottes to bake individual mini-meat loaves.
Next thing you know, I’ll be adding kosher dills and shredded carrot.
Jane’s Curry Meat Loaf
Makes 8 mini meat loaves or a single large loaf
2 tablespoons butter
1½ cups diced onion
1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced
1 pound lean ground beef
1 pound ground lamb
2 tablespoons Madras curry powder
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
½ cup golden raisins
2 slices white bread soaked in 1/3 cup milk
1 lemon, cut into thin rounds (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Melt butter in a large pan over medium-high heat, then sauté the onion and apple until the onion just begins to brown. Let cool.
3. In a large bowl use clean hands to break up the beef and lamb. Add the curry powder, sugar, salt, pepper, raisins, milk-soaked bread and eggs and mix until fully incorporated. Stir in the cooled onions/apple.
4. Divide the meat into eight ovenproof baking vessels (such as mini-loaf pans, souffle cups or other 8- to 10-ounce ramekins) or fill a large loaf pan.
Garnish with lemon slices (you may omit these).
5. Bake on a rimmed baking sheet for 35-40 minutes (for mini meat loaves) or 1 hour (for a loaf pan). Let rest a few minutes, carefully drain any accumulated fat and serve with Major Grey’s chutney.
Nancy Leson is The Seattle Times’ food writer. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Genevieve Alvarez is a Times staff videographer.