Tuesday, February 3, 2015

ridiculous key-word searches, and a meatloaf dissertation

This afternoon, I made a post on Ravelry about one of the more ridiculous key-word searches that showed up on my StatCounter for this blog lately:

I have a blog, and because I am a nerdy nerdy data nerd, I use StatCounter to see how much traffic I get on my posts (when I actually post regularly, anyway. Ahem). One of the functions on StatCounter is a report that shows you recent keyword searches that people have used to get to your website. My blog is mostly cooking and food related, so there are completely reasonable things people have searched on that led to me, such as:

chicken thigh recipe
tortilla-less fajitas
pork rib roast
adding seaweed to soup
paleo meatloaf

However, today I logged in, looked at the keyword search thingy, and one came up that had me simultaneously snorting with laughter and WTF’ing:

one girl one meatloaf

Now…I know how my blog ended up in their search with this, because the blog is titled “One Girl Cooks”, and I’ve posted a lot about meatloaf. BUT STILL. I really have to wonder what the person who did a Google search on “one girl one meatloaf” was REALLY looking for. I’d like to believe that it was a single woman looking for an individual-portion meatloaf recipe maybe, buuuuuuut…yeah.

/cool story, meatloaf

The conversation quickly turned to meatloaf, of course, and at one point I was asked for my meatloaf recipe. I tried to explain that I don't really do recipes because I lack the attention span to, you know, measure things and take notes, but then I ended up writing what I am calling a stream-of-consciousness meatloaf dissertation. I thought readers might find it helpful, or at least entertaining, so here you go:

I make a few different versions - one that uses spinach for filler, one that uses minced mushrooms for filler, and my regular one that can be done with normal bread crumbs or gluten-free ones. If you want to use spinach, get frozen chopped spinach, thaw it out, squeeze as much liquid as you can out of it, and add it directly to your mix. If you want to use mushrooms, I would suggest either button mushrooms or baby bella. Mince them up very fine, toss them in a hot pan with a little fat to lubricate, a little salt, and some garlic and/or herbs if you want (thyme and rosemary are nice). Cook until mushrooms have released their liquid, then let cool for a few minutes and add to your meat mix. My bread-crumb version just involves soaking some bread crumbs (I use GF ones) in a little milk (I use almond milk, but whatevs) and adding that to the mix. I also add a beaten egg or two to my mix as a binder.

Onions, I feel, need their own paragraph, because I have FEELINGS about them. I hate big chunks of onion in meatloaf. I actually grate my onion (food processor for the win) so that it’s pulp and juice, because a) it gets the onion flavor more thoroughly incorporated, and b) you aren’t crunching on pieces of onion as you eat. Not everyone is as picky about this as I am. Do what you feel is right.

For meat, I like to use a mix of ground pork, beef and veal (at my grocery store, you can get 
“meatloaf mix”, which has all three in it). You want a mix with a fair amount of fat in, otherwise your meatloaf is going to be dry. Meatloaf is really not the time or place to be worried about calories.

Seasoning-wise, I like the afore-mentioned HP sauce immensely, but if I don’t have it on hand, I will usually spice my meatloaf with salt, pepper, a little bit of allspice, garlic, and thyme. Rosemary is good, too. Sage is good if you’re using mostly pork - gives you a kind of sausage-y flavor.

You want to cook the meatloaf until it registers 170-ish in the middle, whether you’re cooking a big one or mini ones. I say “ish”, because you can pull them at like low to mid 160’s and let carry-over cooking do the rest if you’re going to be working on sides for another 10 minutes or so…but that’s up to you, and that’s something that makes some people really twitchy.

If you’re making mini meatloaves, what I like to do is form the mini-loaves and sear the tops and bottoms in a ripping-hot pan, then transfer them to a parchment-lined cookie sheet and bake at 400 degree for about 20 minutes or so. If you’re making one big meatloaf, it’s going to take a lot longer to cook - like an hour probably, depending on how much mix you have. Even when I’m doing a big loaf, I still cook it on a cookie sheet rather than in a loaf pan, because it lets some of the grease escape and it gives the whole thing a nice crust.

You can glaze your loaf as it’s cooking (barbecue sauce is good, HP sauce is awesome, please god don’t use ketchup and ruin all your hard work), or you can get super meat-porny and lay bacon strips over the top (do them width-wise, not end to end, otherwise you end up with bacon bits when you cut into it to serve).