Dining In

Mad About Meat Loaf!

By Nancy Finch, Food Columnist   

 

Meat loaf never had so much attention before.

Mike Wallace is to go to court this month because of his arrest just after he ran in Luke’s Bar & Grill on 3rd Avenue in New York in August to pick up his order of meat loaf and mashed potatoes.

So, what happens when an 86-year-old famous reporter for CBS’ 60 Minutes is interfered with while the meat loaf is getting cold?

Wallace’s arrest for interceding when officers questioned his driver about his double-parking should caution police not to get between a TV star (with CBS since the 1950s and on 60 Minutes since 1968) and his meat loaf.

The veteran newsman knew how to milk this incident to the hilt and soon it was all over television, radio and newspapers about Luke’s Bar & Grill and Wallace’s fondness for their meat loaf that landed him with a court date for disorderly conduct.

This must be some kind of meat loaf, I decided, so I called Luke’s to investigate. Luigi Militello, the owner of Luke’s, was obliging about talking about his meat loaf but no way was he going to share his recipe.

I wasn’t the first media person to call, of course. “It’s been a media blitz,” Militello said. “There have been hundreds of calls.”

Luke’s is a 60-seat restaurant and getting a space there, Militello says, “is a luxury.” His real specialty is burgers, a big 10-ounce burger, but meat loaf and mashed potatoes are regularly on his menu.

With the recipe off limits, I tried to coax some meat loaf tips out of Militello. “We puree all the ingredients,” he said. Aha, I replied, then that must make a very firm meat loaf. “Well, we try to keep it airy as well. Don’t grind the meat too much,” he cautioned. And how is meat loaf served at Luke’s? With gravy.

One of the attractions of meat loaf in the heart of New York City, says Militello, is that “not so many places serve it up here. That, in itself, is a plus.”

When your restaurant becomes a news item in all media and the world learns that a star may land in jail because of your meat loaf, what happens besides a media blitz? Luke’s is serving about 10 times more meat loaf daily and an equal amount of mashed potatoes. Militello’s final tips: “Make meat loaf with care. You have to know how to combine the herbs and spices, don’t overdo. You want it nice and moist.”

His advice led me on a “meat loaf mission,” but I didn’t come close to what Luke’s must taste like. “Pureeing,” and I assume he meant combining all the ingredients in a food processor, certainly not actually “pureeing,” produced a very firm meat loaf — great for sandwiches, but obviously, I failed to get his “keep it light” secret.

Included here is a variation of James Beard’s “Favorite Meat Loaf.” Also, “Middle East Meat Loaf” is a very good combination that brings a bit more excitement to meat loaf.

Favorite Meat Loaf

Ingredients:

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1 lb. lean ground beef

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1 clove garlic, sliced

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1 medium onion, sliced

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1 t salt

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1⁄4 t ground pepper

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1⁄4 t thyme

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1⁄4 t chervil

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1⁄4 t ground sage

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1⁄4 cup dry breadcrumbs

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1 egg

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1 strip bacon

Directions: Combine first 10 ingredients in food processor and mix on low speed until well combined. Do not over-process. Shape into loaf in  baking pan. Cut bacon in half and lay on top of meat loaf. Bake at 350˚ for about one hour or until a meat thermometer tests 150 degrees in the center. Serves 5. Serve with Mushroom Sauce.

Mushroom Sauce:

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1⁄4 cup milk

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2 T cornstarch

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2 T butter or margarine

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4 oz. fresh white

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   mushrooms, sliced

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1⁄3 cup chopped onion

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14-oz. can beef broth

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1⁄2 cup water

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Gravy Master or Kitchen Bouquet

Directions: Combine milk and cornstarch. Set aside. Melt butter in saucepan. Add mushrooms and onion. Cook and stir over moderate heat until mushrooms are golden. Stir in beef broth, add water and bring to a boil. Stir in cornstarch mixture and cook over moderate heat until mixture thickens slightly. Add gravy browning as desired. Serve on the side with meat loaf.

Middle East Meat Loaf

Ingredients:

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2 lbs. lean ground beef

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2 eggs

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1 c milk

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1⁄2 cup rolled oats

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1⁄2 cup chopped parsley

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1 cup minced onion

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1⁄2 cup minced sweet red pepper

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Juice of 1⁄2 lemon

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Grated zest of 1⁄2 orange

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1 cup pine nuts

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1 cup white raisins

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1 t ground allspice

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1 t dried thyme

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1 t salt

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2 cloves garlic, minced

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3 T Worcestershire sauce

Directions: Combine ground beef with eggs, milk and oats. Add remaining ingredients. Mix well. Shape into an oval loaf and place in a pan. Bake at 425˚ for one hour or until done. Serves 8. Serve with tomato sauce.

Tomato Sauce:

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2 T butter or olive oil

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1 cup finely chopped onions

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1⁄2 cup finely chopped green pepper

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1 clove garlic, minced

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Juice of 1 lemon

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1⁄2 cup white raisins

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1 t dried thyme

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1 t ground allspice

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16-oz. can stewed tomatoes, preferably with basil

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2 T tomato paste, optional

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3 T chopped parsley

Directions: Heat butter or olive oil in skillet. Add onion, green pepper and sauté until onion is limp. Add remaining ingredients, mix well and cook until thickened.

 

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