Dora Charles; a Pleasure to Meatloaf you, it is easy being cheesy.
Welcome back, disoriented readers to the Pot and Pan Handler’s deviant blog, where this week we are cooking the books. Cheesy Meatloaf from Dora Charles’ book A Real Southern Cook in Her Savannah Kitchen, to be exact, however to get to the meat of this story we’ve got to start where most stories do, at the beginning…
We are biscuit sluts. This is born of the fact that we were both born and raised in the Northern half of the United States. Totally made up fact; there are no edible biscuits north of the Mason Dixon Line, just kidding, the north has biscuit technology, but rarely utilizes it. Thus our fascination.
One day we were watching Food TV’s the Best Thing I Ever Ate. If you’ve never seen it, it is probably the most vapid thing on TV. Essentially Chefs, Celebrities and Celebrity “Chefs” all talk about something they’ve had to eat that was, in their minds, the best thing they’ve eaten of a certain category or subcategory. This episode was the best of free. Tyler Florence mentioned Hoe Cakes & cheddar biscuits at Paula Deen’s restaurant Lady & Sons. They had us at cheddar, cheddar and free. http://www.ladyandsons.com/
Lady & Sons
Eventually our travels took us to Savannah Georgia, where we put in a reservation at Lady & Sons and began to anticipate biscuits. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Lady & Sons is a strange, strange restaurant. You put in your name, there are two seatings when your seating time is imminent, they take everyone for that time slot and put you in a gift shop, like a Disney theme park or museum. There they leave you for twenty minutes. You will feel like you’re being watched. Everywhere you look, EVERYTHING in the place has Paula Deen’s face on it. EVERYTHING. From aardvark skin boots, to zeppelins and everything in between all plastered with Deen’s floating, smiling face.
Soon we were seated we got the aforementioned Hoe Cakes and biscuit. It remains the best biscuit we’ve ever had. Buttery, flaky and distended with delicious & salty cheddar cheese, that biscuit was delectable the Hoe cakes were pretty good too. So were the patty melt and chicken pot pie, but greedy Paula Deen expected us to pay for those, bitch. However, that’s a different post.
Fast forward a couple of years and Paula Deen becomes a celebrity food pariah after settling a racism claim out of court. Throughout the case employees of Paula Deens’ were asked to give depositions. After Deens’ head cook was deposed, she was soon thereafter unceremoniously fired. Then she wrote a cook book. My head was sweating profusely as math is not my strong suit. If Miss Charles worked at Lady & Sons for the last 22 years, that would mean she was the chef when we ate there 6 years ago. After creakily working on this elaborate equation, it was decided, Miss Charles’ book could possibly contain her recipe for cheddar biscuits. YES!
NO! Wrong. There are three biscuit recipes included in Miss Charles’ book, one made with mayo, whaaaaat? Yeah, I know right. One is made with Sprite, WTH? I know. The other uses Bisquick. Not a cheddar buttermilk biscuit recipe in the bunch.
There are a ton of good southern recipes however. Miss Charles’ is clearly a master of on hand cooking. Some of the recipes are seasonal and scratch made, others use the help of canned or boxed food, margarine or other less than ideal ingredients. Whatever she has on hand, she writes in her book: “Country people in the South had to make do with what was at hand, what they could grow or trade or preserve,” “I see this food as a tribute to those who came before me, who worked so incredibly hard for so little.”
You know the old saying, when life hands ya’ cheddah, make meatloaf? Oh, you don’t? Shut up, that’s totally a legit and oft chronicled quote. Either by Samuel Clemens, or his sexually repressed pseudonym (steam power is the lamest of all powers) or maybe Ben Franklin. It’s historic in our kitchen. So with my mind on cheddar, and cheddar in the fridge, I set out to make Dora Charles’ Cheesy Meatloaf with Mushroom Sauce. Spoiler alert the mushroom sauce is cheese too! Follow us to the kitchen & we’ll show you how to make it…
For the meatloaf you will need:
3 LBS ground beef (Miss Charles’ uses 80/20 we used 90/10 the cheese brings enough fat to the party.)
2 Cups thickly shredded cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon Lawry’s seasoned salt (we used our own house made spice blend)
Salt to taste about 1 scant teaspoon
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 cup finely chopped green bell pepper (we used red, because we like things that taste good.)
1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
½ cup sour cream
2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (easier to add than it is to say, woostahshire.)
3 Large Eggs
You will do:
Set the oven to 350 degrees and spray a baking sheet w/ baking spray (we lined a tray with parchment paper)
Put the beef and cheese in a very large bowl and add seasoning, salt, garlic, black pepper, bell pepper and onion, set aside.
In a small bowl whisk Worcestershire and sour cream together, add eggs and beat all together. Thoroughly incorporate and add to meat mixture. Using your (clean) hands combine all until mixed well.
Break off a small chunk and fry, taste for seasoning, and add any if necessary. Place mixture on the baking tray and pat it into a long oblong loaf about a foot long, 5 inches wide and 2 ¼ inches tall. The easiest way to do this is slap that shit into place.
Bake for about an hour. When it’s finished the top will brown, and the top of the loaf will feel firm when patted. Remove from oven and let rest for 15 min…
Meanwhile… say cheese
For the Mushroom sauce you will need:
1 (14 ½) can of condensed cream of mushroom soup (we had some mushrooms lying around so we just made our own… cheesy, earthy and luxurious, but that’s a different post.)
¼ teaspoon salt or more if desired (seriously there’s salt in the cheese, this should be enough.)
¼ heaped teaspoon minced garlic
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 ¾ cup heavy cream
2 cups thinly shredded mild sharp cheddar cheese
You will do:
Heat the mushroom soup in a large saucepan, uncovered, over medium low heat, add the salt, garlic, and black pepper, mix well. Turn down the heat to low and slowly add the cream. Add cheese in bunches, take off of the heat, whisk until smooth. Taste for salt, add some if desired. Keep in a warm oven if you can’t serve immediately.
Slice the meatloaf and spoon sauce over each slice. Eternal order of pretentious dicks tip of the week: Serve this meatloaf and sauce with roasted broccoli or cauliflower. Those veggies love to be cloaked in cheese sauce like tortilla chips at the stadium. Juicy, meaty, cheesy, like a cheeseburger, without all the pesky carbs, if you like a cheeseburger, you’ll love this meatloaf. Thanks Dora Charles.
We continue to cower in the shadows of Ted Turner’s whim, Atlanta, Georgia. There, once cleverly hidden in the W hotel, is a delightfully casual, yet ambitious restaurant that shares their name with a humble sandwich, BLT. A pissy French chef’s take on an American steak house, we promise, there will be a lot at steak. Until then, may the odds be ever in your flavor.
*Editor’s note: we cut this recipe by 1/3 because, it’s a big loaf and there are only two of us. As the pics show, the results were still fabulous.
The Pot & Pan Handler are feral, food obsessed, spatula wielding, escaped restaurant nomads with stories to tell, so we tell them to you. Live and let dine. Only free range garlic and cage free peppers were used in the making of this loaf.