If I can cook it, you can cook it And I'll travel the world to bring it back home to you.

1770 House Meatloaf with Garlic Sauce from Ina Garten’s "Barefoot Contessa Foolproof"

          Meatloaf is an intensely personal experience.  Every family has a meatloaf recipe that is so dearly loved, it achieves iconic status.  This family recipe should not be abridged or changed in any way or else the cook, in self-defense, should consider locking the kitchen door after serving his or her variation.  This fall, a recipe for something called a “Meatloaf Cake” got a lot of play in the New York Times.  As a lover of many meatloaves, I was quick to cook it up.  I served it to Andrew and it was met with a ‘meh’.  It was perfectly fine, if cloyingly sweet, and nothing to write home about.  Although, had my last name been Romney, I am sure it would have been another experience altogether. It certainly is for one Mitt Romney, for whom it is reportedly the ultimate comfort food, eaten in good times and bad.  Meatloaf has that effect on people.  It is part memory and part magic meal, conjuring up visions of home and mashed potatoes and green beans.  At least that’s the version I cook for the homeless shelter. (http://www.chewingthefat.us.com/2009/11/bacon-and-beef-meatloaf.html I think if I altered that recipe, the men at the shelter might not welcome me back.   So what would possess me to take out my brand new copy of Ina Garten’s “Barefoot Contessa Foolproof” (Clarkson Potter 2012) and, out of all its recipes, choose to make meatloaf?  

          Easthampton NY is one beautiful village.  It’s been that way for years with a glorious pond right as you come into town where swans swim in summer and skaters take to the ice in winter.  It’s home to families who were there at the town’s founding in 1648.  Now it is arguably most famous as the home of Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa. Her latest book was a gift to Andrew and me from our dear friends and frequent guests on Ina’s TV Show, Michael and Jim. Autographed by its author, it’s a treasure.  And it comes with an admission:  If Ina Garten could, she would eat out at one Easthampton restaurant every night of the week.  Nestled right on Main Street, it is walking distance from Ina Garten’s house.   The 1770 House (143 Main Street, Easthampton NY 11937 Tel: 631-324-1770) is exactly what you imagine it to be. A glorious Colonial house with two restaurants—a more formal fine dining room on the ground level and, down a flight of stairs, the Tavern with its roaring fireplace and comfort food menu.  And always, on this seasonally changing menu, there is Chef Kevin Penner’s remarkable meatloaf with its even more remarkable Garlic Sauce.  We’d gladly join Ina any night of the week to enjoy this menu item alone. 

          The key to great meatloaf is to gently combine the ingredients so that the loaf remains light and not all compacted into a solid block. This recipe calls for the classic combination of beef, pork and veal.  The Panko breadcrumbs are made into a ‘flour’ when they’re put into the food processor.  It’s a straightforward recipe but it’s when you get to the Garlic Sauce that it becomes completely unique in the annals of meatloaf cooking.   The sauce consists of 10 cloves of garlic, boiled in olive oil and then added to chicken stock and butter on the stove, cooked for a good 35 to 40 minutes.  The stock cooks down; the butter adds a silky texture.  Ina advises mashing the garlic with a fork. I used my immersion blender, which smoothed the whole sauce out. Like Ina, I saved the garlic-infused oil for salads. It’s best to get the meatloaf ready for the oven and then work on the garlic sauce.  Time your meatloaf going into the oven as you combine the garlic with the stock and butter to make the sauce.  That way everything will get to the table simulataneously.  I served the meatloaf with a celery root puree and broccolini.   The whole thing was killer good even if it wasn’t my family recipe. The recipe below is for a meatloaf that serves 6 to 8 people.  No matter how much I love meatloaf sandwiches, I halved the recipe and still have plenty left over for those.  I could halve everything but the 3 extra large eggs. Instead, I used 2 large eggs.  I also made the entire recipe for garlic sauce.   You just can’t make enough sauce—especially one this good.  Here is the recipe:   

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