“I remember every little thing as if it happened only yesterday.”
With that line, Marvin Lee Aday, sang his way into my 10-year-old heart. You might know Aday better by his stage name — Meat Loaf — a rotund, long-haired rocker who was famous for his over-the-top theatrical albums that wove stories of love and sex and rock and roll.
Meat Loaf, as you may have heard, died a few weeks ago at age 74. His albums have sold 65 million copies. Perhaps most remarkably, the album “Bat Out of Hell” continues to sell about 200,000 copies every year, 45 years after its release in 1977.
It’s that album that I think about when I remember Meat Loaf. My older sister, Michelle, got it for Christmas the year it was released. I can only imagine the comments made by my relatives as they looked at the album art, which featured a motorcycle blasting out of a blood-red graveyard while a giant bat flexes its wings in the background.
Let’s just say that such an image wasn’t very Lutheran.
I remember finding that image to be a bit frightening, myself. Still, as she played the album on our Zenith console stereo, I found myself humming along to a number of the tunes, including “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad,” “You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth,” and, of course, the song that we all loved, “Paradise By the Dashboard Light,” which was a whopping 8½ minutes long.
I could sing every word — including most of the baseball/radio interlude — but I had no idea what the song was about. “Parking by the lake” meant, “parking by the lake,” didn’t it? And, “it felt so good, it felt so right” meant that he was … just … feeling good.
As for that baseball part, that was just baseball, and wasn’t it cool that they put it right in the middle of the song?
Did I mention that I was very Lutheran?
Forty-five years later, I know exactly what that whole baseball thing — not to mention the entire song — was about. And I can still sing every word. That’s why I decided to do a tribute to Meat Loaf in this column, though, if I am being perfectly straight, I also wanted to do it because I love meatloaf.
Growing up — right about the time I was singing about how she was “licking her lips and her lipstick was shining” — meatloaf (the dish) was kind of a joke on TV sitcoms. Whenever a character wanted to complain about what was for dinner, it was always meatloaf.
I knew I was supposed to find those jokes funny, but I didn’t really understand them. My mom never made meatloaf. Eventually, I requested it, just so I would know what all of the fuss was about.
My mom agreed, and one night, there it was on the table. You know what? I loved it.
I loved the tomato-y glaze and the slight crustiness of the meat. It was delicious. I might have even asked for seconds.
Now that I’m an adult, meatloaf is one of my go-to recipes, and Meat Loaf is one of my go-to rockers. Give them both a try this week.
I found this recipe at the website for Southern Cast Iron. Yes, you are supposed to bake it in a cast iron skillet. Don’t worry if you don’t have such a pan. If you want to bake it in a regular loaf pan or a 9x13-inch pan, I see no reason not to.
Most meatloaf recipes are pretty much the same, but this one adds a bit of heat with two kinds of jalapenos — pickled and fresh — and pepper sauce. It’s not overpowering, but it does add just a hint of spice.
12 slices thick-cut bacon, divided
2 pounds ground beef
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large jalapeno, seeded and diced
⅔ cup Panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
½ cup chopped green onion
6 tablespoons ketchup, divided
2 tablespoons pepper sauce
8 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce, divided
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup sliced pickled jalapenos
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Fry eight strips of the bacon until crisp. Drain bacon on paper towels. Let cool; crumble.
In a large bowl, stir together the ground beef, eggs, garlic, diced jalapeno, Panko, green onion, two tablespoons of the ketchup, the pepper sauce, six teaspoons Worcestershire sauce, mustard, salt, pepper, and crumbled (and cooked) bacon). Shape mixture into a rectangle and place in your cast-iron skillet. Cut the remaining four slices of bacon in half, and drape over the meat.
In a small bowl, stir together the brown sugar, the remaining four tablespoons of ketchup, and the remaining two teaspoons of Worcestershire. Brush half of the glaze over the bacon. Sprinkle with the pickled jalapenos.
Bake for 45 minutes. Brush the remaining glaze over the meatloaf, and bake for about another 30 minutes. Place cooked meatloaf under broiler for a minute (watch it carefully) to crisp up the bacon on top, if desired.
Let meatloaf stand for five minutes before slicing.
Marion Cunningham’s Meatloaf
I’ve touted Marion Cunningham’s book, “Lost Recipes,” several times in this column. The book offers great recipes for some of the basic foods that we all love. That includes meatloaf.
This recipe is drier than the one listed above. This makes it a great second-day meatloaf sandwich.
Cunningham recommends making your own bread crumbs by tearing the slices into pieces and then placing them in a food processor. Just pulse until the crumbs are very fine.
For the Sauce:
3 tablespoons of butter
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 teaspoon sugar
½ cup water
Salt and black pepper to taste
For the Meatloaf:
2 cups fresh bread crumbs
1 medium onion, chopped fine
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1½ pounds ground beef
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon dry mustard
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ cup water
To make the sauce:
Heat the butter in a saucepan. Whisk in the rest of the ingredients, and continue to whisk until the sauce is well blended and smooth. If the sauce becomes too thick, add a little more water. Makes 1 cup sauce.
To make the meatloaf:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 11x4½-inch baking dish.
Mix together all the meatloaf ingredients in a large bowl. Place the meat in a baking dish and pat it into a loaf shape. Spread ½ cup of your prepared tomato sauce on top, brushing evenly. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for one hour.
This article originally appeared on Iowa City Press-Citizen: Two meatloaf recipes that are paradise by the stovetop lights