I've been having such a good time trying out new recipes that I tend to forget about some of our longtime favorites. But forgetting about a recipe as fabulous as this Wild Mushroom and Green Peppercorn Meatloaf would be a huge mistake! It is - bar none - the best meatloaf that I've ever eaten, and is no more difficult to put together than the basic run-of-the-mill stuff. One taste and you will realize that it is in a completely different league from the standard ketchup-topped loaf. Even if you usually don't like meatloaf, I'll bet you'd love this one.
- This meatloaf has been part of my dinner repertory for so long that I've lost track of where I initially found the recipe. My hunch is the New York Times Magazine about 15 or so years ago, but it's really anybody's guess. For the recipe, scroll down to the end of this post.
- The original recipe called for ground beef. I've made it that way, and it is definitely tasty, but it's even better when made with a mixture of different ground meats. At various times I've used ground turkey, chicken, pork, veal, goat as well as beef. My usual blend is beef, pork and turkey (the regular not the white meat turkey), although I'm pretty sure I've made it with all turkey.
- Most often I make my own "fresh" breadcrumbs - stale bread pulsed in the food processor - but I've also used breadcrumbs that I toast and keep in the freezer.
- The dried green peppercorns are much better for this recipe than the ones that come in a jar of brine. They are the secret ingredient that makes this meatloaf so special.
- I usually buy a package of fresh mixed wild mushrooms in the produce department, but I've also chosen my own assortment of mushrooms. I've never tried reconstituted dried mushrooms, but I'm sure they would work. The mushrooms really boost the umami factor of this meatloaf.
- The recipe can be made in one large loaf pan, or in a few smaller ones. It freezers beautifully. I've served it to family and company alike.
Although this meatloaf is one of my top 5 favorite dinners, it was perhaps loved best by our Australian Shepherd, Sputnik, who was my first dog - first pet actually. We lost Sputnik in December, just a few days shy of his 13th birthday on Christmas. As a puppy, he was a feisty handful, but with a bit (well, a lot really) of hard work on the training front he turned into an amazing companion.
Sputnik's greatest joys in life were: bringing in the newspaper (for a treat), picking up things to hand to us when we dropped them (also for a reward), and licking any plate or cooking pot we were willing to give him. His favorite food was this peppercorn meatloaf; the first time my husband gave him a serving of it, he just closed his eyes and inhaled, smelling the fantastic aroma before he could bring himself to taste any.
I can think of no better tribute to Sputnik than that written by a former landlady of my husband's about her beloved English Bulldog, Winston:
That, and remembering him every time we enjoy this meatloaf.
"Born a dog, died a gentleman."
Wild Mushroom and Peppercorn Meatloaf
2 lbs ground meat (any combination of beef, veal, pork, turkey)
1 ½ c. seasoned bread crumbs
1 T. minced garlic
2 c. mixed wild mushrooms, chopped
1 ½ T olive oil
¾ c. yellow onions
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 ½ tsp. pepper
1 ½ T. whole green peppercorns (the dry ones)
1. mix all ingredients, then press into loaf pan(s)
2. Bake at 350 degreed F for 1 hr 10 min