Most sandwiches in my house are not planned. They’re usually a mish-mash of the greatest leftover hits — a wayward slice of avocado and some cooked salmon stuffed into the heel of a ciabatta roll, or a pile of spicy garden arugula, cold, roasted vegetables with a fried egg and maybe a smear of chimichurri. But in this year of confounding uncertainty we’ve never been in more need of comfort, including being able to plan meals that will nourish not just our bodies but also our spirits.
As a gatherer and not a hunter, I’m especially grateful when friends share their harvest, including seasonal caribou, which a friend gave me last week and I immediately earmarked for a comfort-food classic: the meatloaf sandwich.
The meatloaf is adapted from my go-to recipe by good friend and cookbook author, Sara Foster. Sara includes big, bold flavors, which work well with leaner, gamier meats. Of course, you could make this with ground beef or pork or moose; I think a combo of meats adds depth of flavor and can help with any lingering gaminess. Fresh, homemade breadcrumbs are best, but in a pinch I’ve used everything from Panko to matzo meal and gluten-free oats. If you want more veg than meat, consider adding some chopped, sautéed mushrooms, spinach, zucchini or grated beets — just make sure to squeeze out as much liquid as you can before adding to the meat mixture.
As a kid, I preferred slices of chilled leftover meatloaf on warm toasted bread slathered with mayo and a bit of ketchup. These days, I like a hit of horseradish and some added tang and kick from kimchi or sauerkraut, or an addictive chile carrot ferment I got from Chugach Farm. And to make an ultimate knife and fork meal, toast your bread, add the meatloaf and kraut or kimchi and a slice of provolone or mozzarella and broil for a few minutes until bubbling.
Ultimate meatloaf sandwich
For the meatloaf:
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 onion, grated (about 1 cup)
1 medium carrot, grated (about ½ cup)
1 bunch fresh parsley leaves, chopped, or spinach leaves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
1 tablespoon dried herbes de Provence or Italian seasoning
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoons freshly-ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 pounds ground beef
1 pound ground caribou or moose or pork
2 cups shredded mozzarella
2 cups fresh breadcrumbs (or gluten-free oats)
1 1/2 cups marinara sauce, divided
Suggestions for meatloaf sandwiches: Sliced meatloaf; toasted rye or other bread; mayonnaise; horseradish; sauerkraut; kimchi, provolone or mozzarella, etc.
Preheat oven to 375°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment or aluminum foil.
Combine in a large bowl: eggs, onion, carrot, parsley, mustard, Worcestershire, fresh garlic, herbes de Provence, salt, pepper, garlic powder and cinnamon, and mix well. Add ground beef, caribou, mozzarella, breadcrumbs, and 3/4 cup marinara; reserve remaining marinara for topping meatloaf. Gently mix to combine well, but be careful not to overmix.
Place meat mixture on the prepared (lined) baking sheet and form into a loaf, about 10- by 4-inches. Brush remaining marinara over top of loaf. Bake until cooked through and a nice crust begins to form. Meatloaf is ready when juices run clear when pierced with a sharp knife, or an instant read thermometer registers 145 degrees to 150 degrees, about 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit, loosely covered with foil, at least 10 minutes before slicing.
To make sandwiches, toast bread and slather with mayonnaise and horseradish or other favorite condiment and top with meatloaf and sauerkraut or kimchi, if desired. If broiling, add cheese slices and broil on high just until bubbling. Serve with extra marinara, if desired.
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