Midtown Meat Loaf

Makes 6 to 8 servings. Recipe is from “Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Seasoned America” (William Morrow and Co., 1991) by Paul Prudhomme. The meatloaf tastes great the day it is prepared and just as good the next day in a sandwich.

Seasoning Mix:

2 teaspoons dry mustard

2 teaspoons paprika

1½ teaspoons salt

1½ teaspoons dried thyme leaves

1½ teaspoons dried sweet basil

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

½ teaspoon white pepper

Other ingredients:

8 slices bacon, diced

1½ cups chopped onions

1 cup chopped green bell peppers

1 cup chopped celery

4 bay leaves

1 cup tomato juice

½ cup evaporated milk

1½ pounds ground beef

½ pound ground veal

2 eggs, lightly beaten

½ cup unsalted saltine cracker crumbs (about 12 crackers)

Vegetable oil cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.

2. Combine the seasoning mix ingredients thoroughly in a small bowl. Makes 1/4 cup.

3. Cook the bacon in a 10-inch skillet over high heat until brown and crispy, about 7 to 9 minutes. If the fat starts to smoke before the bacon is brown, lower the heat to medium. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside.

4. Add the onions to the skillet and cook until the onions are golden brown, about 5 to 6 minutes.

5. Add the green peppers, celery, bay leaves and 2 tablespoons of the seasoning mix and cook, stirring and scraping occasionally, about 4 minutes.

6. Add the remaining seasoning mix and cook, stirring often, about 5 to 6 minutes.

7. Remove from the heat and remove and discard the bay leaves.

8. Combine the tomato juice, evaporated milk and the cooked bacon in a large bowl. Add the cooked vegetable mixture and blend well.

9. Gently combine the meat, eggs and cracker crumbs in another large bowl

10. Add the vegetable mixture and, being careful not to pack too tightly, incorporate everything thoroughly.

11. Spray a 13-inch-by-9-inch loaf pan or rectangular casserole dish with cooking spray. Turn the meat mixture into the pan and mold it into a thick loaf.

12. Bake 30 minutes, turn the pan around, and bake another 15 minutes. If you like your meat loaf crusty, try brushing some ketchup on the top of the loaf before baking.

13. Cut into slices about 3/4 inch thick and serve.