Gourmet Style: Ultimate Umame Meatloaf

So as much as I have been into other things lately, it strikes me that I haven’t done a recipe post in what seems like forever. Part of that; of course; is that no matter the lengths that I go to, the best I can hope for is a “mmmmm!” from my toddler and an empty plate from my little girl.  Tonight is trusty old meatloaf night, but this evening I felt some inspiration and just had to bring you my latest international fusion creation.

So let’s talk about Umame, the mythical and secretive quest of Japanese chefs for generations, to find the absolute essence of flavour. What flavour? you might ask, if you’ve ever wondered what teriyaki sauce tastes like, it’s a generic umame for the masses.  It’s method is usually closely-guarded and handed down from master to student, but here I am about to give you a taste(pardon the pun) of the the most secret of secret-sauces, free-to-all, ’cause that’s how I roll…

So you are going to need a few ingredients: Ground Meat, Onion, Garlic, Sweet Pepper, Bread Crumbs, Eggs, Ketchup, the basics. The quest for umame however, is all about the specifics.

For example, where a notable southern-U.S.A. restaurant uses re-hydrated sun-dried tomatoes in it’s renowned loaf, I opted for my own artisan dried miniature shepherd peppers and roasted dried garlic.  After I re-hydrated them I tossed them into a hot pan with some fresh minced onion, and a generous dose of butter, to finish the saute I added a healthy splash of sherry. The secret is to let the veg cool naturally to evaporate the liquid off. Meanwhile I was making the umame sauce. So you take a packet of onion soup mix, add ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, salt, pepper, parsley, and just because I went on a sugar-bush tour with the kids for March-break, a dollop of pure maple syrup. I warmed it slowly by putting it all in a ceramic bowl and setting it on the vent-burner while I was preheating my oven.

Now let’s talk about breadcrumbs; I have tried it so many ways, but this time I opted for a blend of Italian crumbs with Romano cheese, and a Japanese Panko crumb for it’s solid density. 3:1 ratio of Panko to Italian. And one hour of prep later, I am finally ready to shape my loaf. My wife happened to come home around this time so I took a much welcome break with a glass of sherry while she did the dirty-work(honestly, I just don’t like handling raw-meat too intimately). A couple of beaten eggs, the meat, the crumbs, the saute and the sauce all went in, and the top is draped in bacon. 60 minutes at 400 degrees total but 45 minutes in you need to remove the bacon to develop a nice crust.

So maybe I am crazy for trying to take a comfort-food like meatloaf and try to dress-it-up contemporary-fusion style, but it was well worth it…

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