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Tavern on the Green’s Meatloaf

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Editor’s Note: This is from the “original” Tavern on the Green

I did, indeed, get this recipe from Tavern on the Green’s executive chef, Gary Coyle, but it doesn’t taste like the meatloaf the restaurant served at its amazing $12.95 luncheon special. This is what can happen when you convert a recipe from massive amounts to home amounts – and vice versa.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s a wonderful meatloaf, a smoky (from bacon), and deeply flavored meatloaf, but not exactly the slice Gary brought to me in my radio studio, along with the Yukon Gold mashed potatoes, broccoli, and slice of silky, sour-cream-topped cheesecake that comes with the special. What a bargain! I recommend the following recipe.

Tavern on the Green’s Meatloaf

Makes 4 servings 

Tavern on the Green's meatloaf [4]

For the meatloaf:

3/4 pound applewood smoked bacon, chopped into no bigger than 1/4-inch-square pieces

1 egg

1 cup celery, finely chopped

1 cup parsley, finely chopped

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup onion, finely chopped

1/3 cup ketchup

3 slices white bread, trimmed and torn into small pieces

1 garlic glove, finely chopped

3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/8 teaspoon dried basil

1/8 teaspoon dried thyme

Pinch nutmeg

1 1/2 pounds ground beef

Salt and pepper, to taste

For the glaze:

1/4 cup tomato paste

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 teaspoon sugar

  • In a medium skillet, cook the bacon slowly over medium-low heat to render a significant amount of its fat. Then raise the heat and cook until the bacon is just beginning to crisp.
  • Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon. Drain it on a paper towel and set aside. Discard the fat or save it in the refrigerator for another purpose.
  • In a large bowl, beat the egg and milk together. Add the torn bread and let it absorb the liquid for about 15 minutes.
  • Mash the egg, milk and bread mixture with a fork. Add the rest of the ingredients, except the beef and mix thoroughly.
  • Add the beef and mix it with your hands to thoroughly incorporate all the ingredients, but avoid mashing or over-handling the beef. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  • Remove meat from refrigerator and let it warm to room temperature.
  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • Turn the meat out into a roasting pan and use your hands to mold it into a loaf that is approximately 8 inches long, 4 inches high, and 4 inches wide.
  • Bake for 40 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, whisk the glaze ingredients together in a small bowl.
  • Remove the loaf from the oven and reduce the heat to 350 degrees.
  • Brush loaf with tomato glaze and bake for another 25 minutes.

Arthur’s Two Cents: Gary Coyle says that applewood smoked bacon is available at many retail outlets nationwide, as indeed it is. And that it lends a slight fruity sweetness, as I am sure it does. But I used his suggested substitute, available in any supermarket — hickory-smoked bacon. Naturally, that is one reason my meatloaf tasted different than his.

I also slightly rewrote some of Gary’s directions – he’s a chef, after all, not a professional recipe writer.

I also did not, as he instructs, refrigerate the meatloaf over night. Why? So flavors would blend before baking?

In translating the recipe from his huge quantity to this small quantity, he also gave an amount of dried thyme – 1/8 teaspoon – that I felt would be lost. He also specified 1/8 teaspoon of dried basil, a product I don’t keep in my pantry. Instead, I added 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme. Next time I make it – and I will – I’ll also add more nutmeg – say, 1/4 teaspoon.

Finally, make sure to let the meatloaf rest for 20 minutes before slicing it. We couldn’t wait to eat it. It smelled so good. But when cut immediately, the loaf doesn’t hold together well. (On the hand, I rather liked the loose texture for a change.) Of course, it is great sliced and reheated the next day.


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