Lydia Shire, the esteemed Boston-based chef whose Scampo and Towne Stove & Spirits are two of Beantown's best and most original restaurants, loves NFL football as much as she loves full-flavored food. "Yesterday was the start of NFL Wild Card Weekend," she wrote to me in early January. "You know what a fan I am. I took yesterday off to watch and cooked something I probably have not cooked in 25 years — MEATLOAF!!! Yes, I was craving meatloaf (no fancy restaurant food here). It was so damn good. I wrote out the recipe for friends who came over." With little prodding, Shire agreed to share it with us. If you're looking for something a little more complex (and unexpected) than chili and wings for your Super Bowl viewing party — or if you just like good meatloaf, any time at all — you'll love Shire's take on this American classic.
In a small sauté pan, heat ¼ cup of the extra-virgin olive oil with 3 tablespoons of butter. Add the mushrooms and garlic, season with salt and pepper to taste, and cook until the mushrooms are dry, about 8 minutes. Add the sherry and let it reduce until dry, about 5 minutes. Add the cooked mushrooms and garlic to a large bowl with the hamburger meat, but do not mix.
In a large sauté pan, heat the rest of the extra-virgin olive oil with the rest of butter. Add the onions, leeks, and diced jalapeños and sauté slowly until they have caramelized, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Using a grinding attachment to a stand mixer or a meat grinder, grind the cold bacon with the roasted peppers and roasted jalapeños. Add to the top of the hamburger meat, but still do not mix. Add all but 1 tablespoon of the chopped parsley, the cilantro, and the grated carrot. Next add the breadcrumbs, the cooled onions, the cumin, and the Worcestershire sauce. Season the ingredients with salt and pepper, and now, mix with your hands until all of the ingredients are evenly incorporated. Cook a piece of the meatloaf mixture to check the seasonings; you want the taste to "jump out at you."
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Arrange the meat in a loaf shape on a large, greased roasting pan. In a small bowl, combine the ketchup, dry mustard, cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon of sea salt, and brown sugar and pour over the meatloaf. Combine the onion rings with the tablespoon of parsley and a dash of extra-virgin olive oil and scatter on top of the meatloaf. Bake in the oven until cooked through or "set," about 40 minutes. A good way to test if the meatloaf is done is to use a metal skewer and insert it into the center to make sure it is very warm. Once the meatloaf is cooked through, broil it for 1-2 minutes so that the ketchup sauce and onions are nicely toasted.