It is a well-established culinary urban legend that the French hate ketchup. I always think of that I Love Lucy episode with the escargots and the tongs on her nose and the ketchup and the chef who comes tearing out of the kitchen in a fit to see who would dare to order ketchup with his perfect snails. I may have a French family, but Lucy and I share a passport. I love ketchup.
Where else do you find ketchup if not in meatloaf? My mother, being of that beloved race of ketchup-haters from across the Atlantic, never made it for me growing up. So, instead of being that Wednesday night dreaded hockey-puck dinner, meatloaf became for me a kind of sought-after delicacy. Even now when I see it at those gourmet comfort food places that are so trendy, I am entranced at the idea of meatloaf. So homey and comforting and filling and maternal. Like a big hug.
I flavor my plate of all-American nostalgia with the flavors of my own childhood comfort food: Boeuf Bourguignon, a stew of beef, bacon, mushrooms, and onions, cooked in a crock full of red wine. Yes, my Beef Bourguignon Meatloaf has ketchup, but it is a ketchup reduced with onions, garlic, bay leaf, fresh thyme, and, of course, Burgundy wine. Bacon plays a double role in this meatloaf: flavoring the mushrooms and the interior of the loaf, while forming a shingled crust on the outside. Mushrooms and onions are minced and incorporated to lighten up with beef, which along with fresh breadcrumbs, give this meatloaf a moist and soft texture. Cognac is the final thrill. While I admit I thought I would love the idea of this recipe more than the recipe itself, it turned out better than my wildest expectations. France and America may be far apart, but long distance relationships definitely have their perks. Bon app!
Boeuf Bourguignon Meatloaf
1 medium yellow onion
4 cloves garlic
2 cups very roughly ground fresh breadcrumbs
1 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 cup dry red wine
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup ketchup
10 single stems fresh thyme, divided
1 bay leaf
6 to 8 slices bacon
4 ounces cremini mushrooms
2 tablespoons cognac
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 pounds 90% lean ground beef
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
2. Start by making the red wine ketchup. Quarter the onion and place it and the garlic in the food processor. Run the machine until the onion and garlic are finely chopped. Spoon out into a bowl and set aside.
3. Place the breadcrumbs in a small bowl, and pour the milk over them so the bread can soak up the milk.
4. In a medium saucepot, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-low heat. Add half of the chopped onion and garlic mixture, and sauté until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the red wine and raise the heat to high. Bring to boil. Add Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, 6 stems thyme, and bay leaf, and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered 15 minutes. You will have 1½ cups red wine ketchup.
5. Meanwhile, run the mushrooms through the food processor until you have a rough rubble--but don't make them too fine (there's no need to wash the food processor in between uses here; the flavors will all be combined anyway). In a 9-inch sauté pan, heat the remaining tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add 2 slices of bacon, sliced about ¼-inch thick. Sauté until just starting to crisp: about 3 minutes. Add the remainder of the onion and garlic mixture and sauté another 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook 5 minutes, or until the pan starts to dry out. Season with salt and pepper, and add the cognac (pour the cognac into a separate container before adding to the hot pan). Cook until evaporated. Place the mushrooms in a large bowl.
6. In the bowl with the mushrooms, add the eggs, 1 cup of red wine ketchup, and the parsley. Squeeze all the liquid out of the breadcrumbs and add those as well. Whisk the mixture thoroughly together. On top of the mixture, add the meat. Season with salt and pepper. With clean hands, mix everything in the bowl together until just incorporated. Do not overmix.
7. Grease a small, rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment lightly with olive oil. Form a log of the meat mixture measuring about the length of a slice of bacon and 5 inches wide. Spoon ¼ cup red wine ketchup over the meatloaf. Place the remaining 4 to 6 slices bacon lengthwise over the top of the meatloaf. Bake 1½ hours, until a metal skewer inserted in the center of the meatloaf comes out hot. Allow to rest 10 minutes, then transfer to a serving platter, and slice. Serve with remaining red wine ketchup on the side.