Six Things You Want to Know About Meatloaf

Six Things You Want to Know About Meatloaf

- in House of Representatives


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Frank Bruni, a Times Op-Ed columnist, and his BFF, Jennifer Steinhauer, a congressional correspondent in The Times’s Washington bureau, recently published a cookbook on meatloaf. The book, “A Meatloaf in Every Oven,” chronicles their adventures in meatloafing and features recipes from famous chefs, politicians, personal friends and their own kitchen. Over the last few months, they’ve discovered that there are six things people want to know about meatloaf.

Why a whole book about meatloaf?

Over the years, we have talked somewhat obsessively about our mutual love of meatloaf. For Frank, who spent years as a restaurant critic and remains a loyal fan of New York City restaurants, the kitchen was long a place he was good at analyzing but not as great at laboring within. Meatloaf, however, was always his go-to dish for company. He was so adept at it that he once won a meatloaf contest at a dinner party. Jennifer has long found meatloaf a good dinner option for her family, and experimented with ways to make it new and different and international. Frank once confessed to Jennifer that he always wanted to write a cookbook about meatloaves, but being neither a cook nor cookbook writer — two seemingly insurmountable obstacles to such a project — he gifted the idea to Jennifer, who then insisted they do it together.

Favorite recipes?

This truly is like asking us to pick between our favorite children, or at least our favorite animal. Frank has a soft spot of course for his own mother’s loaf, a classic that has gotten a lot of attention in stories about our book. He also loves his award-winning Greek loaf with lamb and feta and is known to surprise guests with the cheesy chorizo loaf, a decadent crowd pleaser. Jennifer has a soft spot for the spicy turkey loaf with sriracha, the Japanese loaf with miso and mirin, among the international numbers, and for a classic, Senator Susan Collins’s mother’s loaf, which has a dab of horseradish.

You mention Susan Collins. What does politics have to do with meatloaf?

Apparently a lot. Ms. Collins, an accomplished home cook when she isn’t lawmaking, offered her recipe up when she heard about the book. But when we asked around, we found a lot of politicians had family loaves that were special to them, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, who likes to make a venison loaf out of the deer he hunts.

What has been the craziest moment in meatloaf land?

We have faced a lot interesting questions as we have talked with the nation about meatloaf via radio programs, podcasts and the like. People share their tales of woe or joy concerning a mother’s meatloaf, and they ask questions concerning how to best use oatmeal as a binder. But our personal favorite was the caller on a Wisconsin public radio show who informed us of his surplus of bear meat in his home freezer, who was looking for bear-loaf tips. Pretty sure we steered him to the classics chapter.

Why Is (My) Meatloaf Usually Dry?

This is the number one complaint about meatloaf, and it usually stems from one of two things: You’re using too much binder, and confining yourself to bread crumbs rather than other alternatives, including bread soaked in milk or cream, so you should adjust this. Or you’re overcooking it. A meat thermometer helps a lot with this.

What if I’m on a diet?

Don’t eat meatloaf. Have a salad. Godspeed to you.

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