BBQ Meatloaf with Mashed Potatoes and Mushroom Gravy

I’ve been trying to expand these recipes to more “full meal appropriate” entries rather than small pieces of how to look fancy. In doing so, I’ve come back to my old homesteading ways. The ways of the farms in far away lands, the ways of the jam-making in Lower Haight,the ways of spending 8 hour chunks of time in the kitchen making everything from mustard and crackers to ice cream flavored with home grown fruit. Oh, those days…where have you gone? To where has all that youthful enthusiasm and energy fled? Perhaps to late nights of word scramble and Mah Jong? Perhaps to the new visual enjoyment of This American Life? (Thanks a lot, Ira Glass…) Wherever it went to, it’s on its way back for a (hopefully extended) visit, so lets go home.

Good ole fashioned meatloaf is the best way to negate the anger that is flooding all us San Franciscans just as the cold fog is flooding our Indian Summer. Now is the time for hot, heavy food – chili, roasted chicken, meatloaf – and this is the best recipe with which to welcome it back. I do, very very sincerely, beg of you – pleeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaase (on my knees) don’t use store bought barbeque sauce. Just don’t. I’m not going to lecture you on corn syrup, how it’s a disgrace to the intregity of food, how it’s bad for your body, agriculture, farmers or the economy of food. I won’t. I will just say that this barbeque sauce will taste better than any you can buy and you will feel so much better about your endeavors after a mere half hour (that’s not even a whole episode of This American Life).

Barbeque Meatloaf with Mashed Potatoes and Mushroom Gravy MeatloafBBQ

For the BBQ Sauce

This recipe makes just about enough for the meatloaf, so depending on how much you might use in other items (perhaps a burger patty made from some left over ground beef?) you could want to double it. Another good use of this sauce is as a marinade for tofu.

      1c. canned tomatoes, or 2 heirloom tomatoes, smoked, and 1c. unseasoned tomato sauce*


      2 cloves garlic, finely chopped


      2/3c. red onion, finely chopped


      1/2 jalapeno, finely diced, with seeds


      2T brown sugar, or Mexican Piloncillo, grated


      1t tamarind paste**


      juice from 1/2 lemon


      1/8t curry powder


      1/8t smoked salt***


      1/4t cumin


      1/2t liquid smoke


      1/2t extra virgin olive oil


      1t cider vinegar

*This sauce is a great reason to shell out $40 and get a stove-top smoker from your local Sur la Table. Buuuut, if you don’t have the means to smoke the tomatoes yourself, I strongly recommend Muir Glen Organic’s Fire Roasted kind.

*If you can’t find tamarind paste (though its more widely available than you would think, just ask around – especially in the “ethnic foods” aisle, or at Asian and Mexican markets) it can be substituted with tamarind pods. Leave them whole and keep them in the sauce the entire time its cooking, then remove at the end.

***You can get smoked salt at some specialty stores (such as Rainbow Grocery here in San Francisco) or order it online. If you don’t use smoked salt, use regular sea salt and add 1/4t more liquid smoke.

1. Warm a medium sauce pan over medium heat and cook the onion, garlic and jalapeno in olive oil until just softened but not browned.
2. Add tomatoes, then slowly add sugar and tamarind paste, stirring and watching to make sure it all dissolves well.
3. Once the tamarind paste and sugar are dissolved, add everything else slowly and reduce to a simmer.
4. Simmer for half hour or until the taste is right for you.
5. Remove from heat, cool, and puree in food processor. Don’t worry when it still seems chunkier than the KC Masterpiece your un-culinarily inclined roommate fills the fridge with, that’s just because it has real tomatoes in it. You definitely want it that way.
6. Enjoy with the following:

For the Meatloaf

      1/2lb ground beef


      1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped


      2T red onion, finely chopped


      1 1/2T BBQ Sauce + 1t


      2T bread crumbs


      1 egg


      2 strips quality bacon


      Good amount of sea salt and cracked black pepper

1. Pre-heat your oven to 350.
2. Put all ingredients (saving the extra teaspoon of BBq sauce) together in a bowl and mix well by hand.
3. Here’s the key to making it right:

        Coat a small loaf pan in butter and pack the uncooked meatloaf into it, smoothing out the flat side, then gently shake it out onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper. Once out, the loaf is now coated in the butter. Now, coat it in BBQ sauce and lay the bacon strips gently over it.

4. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, remove and rise oven temp to 450.
5. Once heated, replace meatloaf for 10 minutes to brown the outside.
6. Remove bacon strips and serve on the side.
7. Serve with:

And the Mushroom Gravy

      2C. mixed mushrooms, coarsely chopped


      1/4C. butter + 1t


      1/2 small white onion, finely chopped


      1C. heavy cream


      1/2C. stock (veggie, chicken or beef)


      1T flour


      1/2 small garlic clove, finely minced


      1/2T balsamic vinegar


      Salt and Pepper

1. In a medium sauce pan, saute mushrooms, onion and garlic in 1t butter until just a little softened
2. Add stock and cream
3. In small amounts, add flour, whisking the whole time to make sure it doesn’t clump up (I like to add the flour later for this, because I don’t want it to brown)
4. Continue whisking!!! and add vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.
5. Continue whisking until it is nice and thick and delicious
6. Remove from direct heat, but keep stirring it up until you serve it – otherwise it will thicken into a lumpy mistake.

Now, put ’em all together with some mashed potatoes (you’re on your own, here) and serve it in this order: Mashed potatoes on the bottom, then the meatloaf, maybe a little extra BBQ sauce, then the gravy. MMMMMMmmmmmmm Mama.

3 Things to Do with Marinated Artichokes

As the ultimate food purist, I never thought it would happen, but it did. I was having wine at a friends house, and she offered me a bite to eat, and of course I’m not going to turn down food – and it was thus that I soon found myself chowing down on instant mashed potatoes – and loving it! She made them with butter and milk, of course, but here’s the kicker- sautéed garlic and jarred quartered artichokes, too. It was totally delicious, and I was intrigued with this artichoke addition. What else could I add marinated artichokes to? How could I make this already awesome recipe even more awesome? Now that I had let down my guard to an instant food, I was about to have a lot more time to experiment – with gravy, with bacon wrapped mashed potatoes, etc etc.

While thinking all these thoughts, I also mulled over possible adaptations of these artichoke mashers. The one thing I knew for sure was that I wanted a stronger artichoke flavor. I messed around a little and found that the key was not only to warm the separated leaves of the artichokes, but to add a teaspoon or two of the oil from the jar, as well as roasting the garlic (mincing and sautéing will suffice if time is tight).

Here are results, in brief but comfortable simplicity:

Mashed potatoes with artichoke hearts and roasted garlic:

    For every two cups of mashed potatoes, add 2 cloves roasted garlic (crushed), 2 artichoke hearts, quartered, and leaves separated, 1-2 teaspoons (depending on preference) juice from jarred artichokes, generous pinch of fine sea salt, stir up and serve with or without gravy. If serving it with gravy, I suggest a very mild gravy, as the artichoke flavor tends to be easily over powered. Serve with chicken.

After working on this recipe a bit, it got me on quite an artichoke kick. After all, I had all these jars of artichokes. Something had to be done with them. Here are two of those recipes in brief but comfortable simplicity:

Pasta with creamy artichoke sauce: artichokepasta

    · 1lb. cooked pasta (I recommend shells or penne, so that the cavity holds the sauce)
    · 5T softened butter
    · 5T all purpose flour
    · 2 C milk
    · 1 C (vegetable or chicken)
    · 1 C water
    · 9t oil from jar of marinated artichokes
    · 3 clove roasted garlic, finely chopped and smashed
    · 6-8 artichoke hearts, quartered & leaves separated

    1. Make a roux by melting the butter in a small saucepan on medium-high heat, then adding the flour and whisking vigorously.
    2. Reduce heat
    3. While whisking, add milk, broth, and water slowly and constantly whisking
    4. Continue whisking and add artichoke oil.
    5. Remove from heat and stir in garlic and artichoke hearts.
    6. While warm, pour over pasta and mix thoroughly.
    7. Top with chili flakes. (Ricotta or goat cheese would also be a tasty addition.)

Ricotta and Artichoke Topped Crostini

    Slice a baguette thick and on a bias, brush on olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toast in the oven at 350 until
    browned but still slightly soft in the center.

    Top with a small scoop of ricotta and a quarter of an artichoke heart, drained and
    sprinkle with a pinch of Fleur de Sel, or if you have it, fume de sel, a coarse French
    sea salt, smoked in Chardonney barrels. Drizzle with white truffle oil (optional).


Bacon Mashed Potato Pie

This is a simple recipe that is great on multiple levels: It, of course, is delicious and indulgent. It’s also easy to altar to individual sized dishes by using small custard ramekins or baking dishes (see #3 on ”My Favorites”). To do this, simply divide up the bacon and line the custard or baking dishes individually the same way you would the large pie dish. This also lends itself well to experimentation with different mashed potato recipes.

Bacon Mashed Potato Pie


5 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped into small squares
5 medium garlic cloves, peeled & roasted (see below)
1 lb bacon
1/4C. water
1 C. heavy cream
5-6T rendered duck fat (optional)
Salt & Pepper


Boil potatoes in salted water until tender enough to fall apart when stuck with a fork.

While boiling:
– Pan roast and chop garlic: Heat 2T olive oil in deep sauté pan. When hot, add peeled cloves. Sautee on high until soft and browned on both sides. Chop finely and set aside.

– Fry bacon til medium-crispy

Rinse boiled potatoes in colander and return to pot.

Mash part of the way, then add ½ of the cream, ½ of the water and chopped roasted garlic. Stir and mash, slowly adding the remainder of the water, cream and all duck fat (make sure that the fat is melted, not solid). While stirring and mashing, liberally salt and pepper with fine sea salt and fresh ground black pepper.

When finished, line a greased 9” baking dish or 3 4” ramekins with bacon, like a piecrust.

Heap in mashed potatoes

Cover with remaining bacon.

Bake at 375 for 10 minutes, and finish at 425 until brown and crisp on top (app 7 minutes, depending on the bacon.)