WRITTEN ON November 22nd, 2010 BY Meredith AND STORED IN Dinner, Potato, Tomatoes

When I was a sophomore in college, I had to get my tonsils and adenoids removed. At the same time, I also had holes poked into my sinus pockets so they would drain more efficiently. All of this happened over Christmas break, and though the doctor said it would be only about 3-4 days until I was good as new, it took a full two weeks to be able to eat truly solid food (though I will say it was the best diet ever.  Lost like 10 pounds and was too thin for all my new Christmas clothes.  Hmm…maybe I should look into getting it done again.)

I was completely spoiled by my mother, who made me scrambled eggs and chicken broth pretty much day and night for a week. When, finally, I thought I might be able to handle something more substantial, she made meatloaf and mashed potatoes.  I took one swallow of the meatloaf and started crying at the table.  It was that painful (or I was that much of a wimp). Unbelievably, that was my very first taste of meatloaf.

I’ve kind of stayed away from it since then.  I hadn’t had it for the first 19 years of my life.  It brought me to tears the first time I tried it.  What, really, was I missing? I had meatloaf trauma in a major way. I felt like Randy from A Christmas Story.

But it turns out that I married a man who loves meatloaf (and meatballs and burgers and crumbled sausage and meat sauce), and I couldn’t keep up with the “honey I have a meatloaf headache” avoidance any longer. So I gave it a shot.

I served it with oven fries, which were so delicious I might never go back to regular when I’m cooking at home. We ate in front of the fire and watched football and felt thoroughly American.

I used bison meat (yes, I went to Bucknell.  Yes, I am aware that our mascot is the Bison.  Yes, I think it’s weird that I was basically eating my mascot), lowfat milk, and lots of fresh onion and garlic.  I chopped fresh tomatoes for the sauce, and used dried herbs de Provenance. I pretty much gave meatloaf a makeover.  And man did it look (and taste) good.

Loaf 'n' Fries

Bison Meatloaf and Oven Fries (serves 4)
For Meatloaf:
1 lb lean bison (buffalo) meat
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup lowfat milk
2 tbsp ketchup
1 egg, beaten
2 sprigs fresh thyme, picked and chopped
1 handful fresh parsley, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
For sauce:
1 can tomato paste
1 tomato, chopped
1/2 tsp honey
2 dashes Worchestershire sauce
1 tsp dried herbs de Provence
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375. In a large bowl, combine ingredients for meatloaf well. On a small cookie sheet, form into a loaf shape, place in middle rack in oven.  Bake for about 20 minutes.  In the meantime, combine the ingredients for the sauce in a small saucepan. Heat until smooth and silky. After 20 minutes in oven, remove loaf, smother with sauce. Bake another 30 minutes. Rest about 15 minutes before serving.

For the Oven Fries:
3 Russet potatoes, cleaned and dried
3 springs of thyme, picked and chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
Cut potatoes, skins on, into 1/2 inch wide strips. Toss in a large bowl with remaining ingredients. Turn out onto a large cookie sheet.  Potatoes should be in one layer. Bake on rack below meatloaf for about 30 minutes, turning twice with spatula.  When meatloaf is resting, finish baking potatoes on middle rack until golden brown and crispy, about 15 minutes.

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