What Is That Secret Ingredient?

The focus of the photo is to be the meatloaf on the platter. However, I look around my kitchen and I see beautifully colorful (not to mention delicious) garden produce that deserves to also be spotlighted. There’s corn on the cob from Lyle Rose, East Grand Forks, Butternut and Buttercup squash from my pastor and his wife, Craig and Linda Fenske, tomatoes and green beans from Marlys Johnson, apples from Dave and Jean Pelarski, and hot peppers from son and daughter-in-law, Dean and Jyl.

During one of my recent trips to St. Louis to visit my sister Lori, her husband, Bob, mentioned that he absolutely loves meatloaf — meatloaf for dinner one night and meatloaf sandwiches for lunch the next day.

In other words, if you’re going to make meatloaf, make a mountain of it!

I started paging through one of Lori’s cookbooks for a unique meatloaf recipe and boy, did I find one. This recipe has one ingredient I’ve never seen before in meatloaf. Lori had this ingredient and all the others needed so I was off and running.

The raves at the table that evening told me I had hit the jackpot so I decided to have a little fun by offering a contest. I told those around the table that I had a $5 bill in my pocket for whoever could identify the secret ingredient in the meatloaf.

There were a few wrong guesses and then John, my nephew, piped up with “horseradish.” He was accurate, of course, but he did the right thing – he disqualified himself because at the time I was making meatloaf, he also was in the kitchen making ice cream. “I saw you put the horseradish in,” he confessed.

There was no $5 prize winner that night, but we all agreed this meatloaf recipe deserves a blue ribbon. Since coming home, I’ve made it for us. We have a nephew, Mike, who raises buffalo, so I use ground buffalo meat. I believe that makes this meatloaf even better – if that’s possible.

Just for a moment, let’s take our eyes off the meatloaf and put them on horseradish.

My mother used to grow it on the farm and then grind it when it was ready. I don’t have real vivid memories of the grinding but I believe it was about a thousand times more eye watering then peeling and dicing onions.

Here’s what I learned online about horseradish – the root

Horseradish (Armoracia rusticana, syn. Cochlearia armoracia) is a perennial plant of the Brassicaceae family, which also includes mustard, wasabi, broccoli and cabbages. The plant is probably native to southeastern Europe and western Asia, but is popular around the world today. It grows up to 5 feet tall and is mainly cultivated for its large, white, tapered root.

The intact horseradish root has hardly any aroma. When cut or grated, however, enzymes from the damaged plant cells break down sinigrin (a glucosinolate) to produce allyl isothiocyanate (mustard oil), which irritates the sinuses and eyes. Once grated, if not used immediately or mixed with vinegar, the root darkens, loses its pungency and becomes unpleasantly bitter when exposed to air and heat.

Now you know all about horseradish and here’s what you’ll want it for:

Meat Loaf St. Louis Style

  • 2 cups fresh bread crumbs
  • 3/4 cup minced onion
  • 1/4 cup minced green pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 lbs. chuck, ground
  • 2 tablespoons horseradish
  • 2 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1/4 cup milk or evaporated milk
  • 3/4 cup catsup

Prepare bread crumbs, minced onion and green pepper.

Set oven to 400 degrees.

In large bowl, with fork, beat eggs slightly. Lightly mix in the ground chuck, then crumbs, onion, pepper. (Meat will be juicier and tenderer if you handle it as little as possible). Add horseradish, salt, mustard, milk, but not the catsup, not yet!

Combine all, lightly but well.

Shape meat into an oval in a loaf pan. Spread top with the ¾ cup catsup. Bake 50 minutes.

When done, using two broad spatulas, lift loaf onto platter. Spoon some of the juices over the meal. Slice, serve and enjoy.

You might want to try the “name that secret ingredient” contest. It makes for even more pleasant family time around the table.

Until Soon