July was a disgustingly hot month in Ottawa. We spent most of it parked directly in front of an air conditioner and complaining about the humidity. While our parents were away in Paris, we cleaned out the kitchen and found a few jars of pickled limes my mum made before she left. This reminded us to make pickled limeade!
She first salted the limes, then set them out in the sun to dry until they shrunk to half their size, and finally plunged them into a jar of brine. These delightful pickles mix with the brine and create a salty, supremely sour pickling juice. Apparently, this type of lime pickling is very common in Cambodia and Vietnam.
Anyway, we scooped out a few ladlefuls of the juice into a pitcher, added sugar (lots of it!), and topped it off with water. Pickled limeade makes a refreshing drink, but you have to be careful. The combination of sour and sweet from the preserved limes often creates indigestion and (sometimes) diarrhoea. An unpleasant price to pay for a fresh taste of summer, even for the most experienced drinkers.
After making a pitcher of pickled limeade, we prepared dinner. I was asked to make my Italian sausage meatloaf, which is slowly gaining fame within my family, and Jimmy made his meat patties.
I’m not going to lie – this stuff isn’t pretty. I mixed about 3 pounds of ground beef with the meat of 3-4 Italian sausage links squeezed out of their casings). I added 2-3 cloves of minced garlic, 1 finely chopped onion, 1 egg, and 2 cups of cubed sandwich bread to loosen up the meat. After the addition of salt, pepper, 1 tablespoon of ketchup, and 2 tablespoons of Sriracha hot sauce for heat, I began to prepare the secret ingredient. I take 2-3 sausage links, cook them fully in their casings, roughly chop them up, and add them for a hidden textural surprise in the meatloaf. Every other bite includes these bits of sausage, and it offers an unexpected hit of porky goodness in an already flavourful meatloaf.
I do play around with the ratios, depending on the ingredients I have on hand, so this isn’t a recipe I’ve ever strictly followed. That being said, some loaves are more successful than others. Once I figure out a recipe that works, I’ll be sure to share it for perfect meatloaves for everyone!
Being careful not to over-mix the meat, I formed it loosely into a loaf pan. You can see how roughly I chopped the ingredients. I always keep things chunky for the textural contrast. A meatloaf, by virtue, is normally a densely packed loaf of meat, but preparing it my way allows it to be juicy, light, and dare I say, interesting. Maybe I’m just tooting my own horn, but this approach has certainly won the favour of everyone who has eaten it.
I glazed it with a slick of ketchup and popped it into the oven. For how long? Who knows! Until it’s done. If the loaf is cold, I normally bake it at 350 degrees for about an hour and a half. With the large chunks of onions, fatty sausages, and bread cubes, it’s difficult to bake it into a brick. That’s another reason why I like this “recipe” of mine. The ingredients themselves continuously baste the meatloaf from the inside out. You’ll notice a large pool of bright orange fats and juices begin to rise from the meatloaf. This is mostly coming from the Italian sausages, so don’t worry too much. You can save some of these juices to incorporate into gravy (for your mashed potatoes on the side, of course). It helps tie in the flavours a little more.
After baking, the loaf will shrink by quite a bit, and it will probably brown into what looks like an unappetizing lump of poo, reminiscent of the usual picture of meatloaf or Salisbury steak. However, one bite into this union of pork, beef, and egg will change the way you look at meatloaf. It actually has flavour! And spiciness! And it’s soft and juicy!
Thinking back, I’m not sure why I chose to cook such a meat-laden dish in the middle of summer. It must be the dangers of blogging about food consumed months ago.
Lucy's meatloaf was a totally different dish to me. Our parents rarely made meatloaf when we were younger and when they did, they weren't the best. Lucy's version was totally juicy and packed with flavour! I even made a gravy-like sauce with the pan juices by adding a slurry of flour to tighten up the sauce. A bit of ketchup was added to bring everything together.
There were leftovers. It didn't stand a chance of making it past lunchtime though.
That same night, we decided to make another dish that would cook in considerably less time. Jimmy made his famous meat patties – famous because it’s his faithful go-to dish in times of uncertainty. Imagine an Asian-ish Salisbury steak, but eaten with rice. I’ve never eaten this anywhere else, so I’m assuming it’s a family dish.
I’m not sure about the measurements, but there is a significant amount of vegetal matter versus meat. In fact, I’d say that there is nearly a 1:1 ratio of meat to vegetables in the patty. This makes it unusually juicy and tender. He chopped half an onion, a few cloves of garlic, 2 handfuls of white mushrooms, and 2 stalks of green onions.
Mixing it together with soy sauce, salt, pepper, and an egg, he formed a wet, slimy looking meat mixture. I formed them into palm-sized patties to panfry in a little bit of vegetable oil. I have child-sized hands, so the patties take only a few bites once fully cooked.
These will definitely turn brownish, black when you cook them, but be sure to cook them through. They are positively revolting when undercooked, not to mention dangerous since it contains ground beef.
Serve hot with steamed rice, and you’ve got yourself a quickie dinner!