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Apr 2, 2019
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WINE WITH…Meatloaf with a French Accent

Few foods are as comforting as traditional American meatloaf, with or without a ketchup schmear on top.  But what we were looking for in this instance was something more like a hot rendition of a rustic French pâté.  Since the French do have their own version of meatloaf (pain de viande) we scoured the Internet for recipes, but most of them seemed very much like all-American meatloaf, including the ketchup.  One minor difference is that rather than dry breadcrumbs, the French tend to use a “panade” (bread soaked in milk) in their meatloaf, which yields moister results.  Meanwhile, Italian versions of meatloaf (polpetonne) are more apt to skip the ketchup and blend generous amounts of thyme, dried basil and other herbs into the meat, along with Parmesan.

Many of these variations sounded tasty, but since they would not yield quite the pâté-like flavor and texture we envisioned, we decided we’d have to wing it and just make a few modest adjustments to the traditional American loaf.  To keep the meatloaf moist, we bought ground beef with a higher fat-to-lean ratio (85% lean -15% fat).  Instead of blending ground pork or veal in with the beef we decided to mince a chicken thigh to add textural interest.  We also stirred a little brandy into the mix as a nod to French tradition.

We were pleased with the final result, which did taste vaguely French.  As we’d planned, there was far more than the two of us could eat in one meal, so we covered the top of the leftover loaf with foil and pressed it down with a weight and refrigerated it overnight (we used a couple of cans of beans, but a brick would work even better).  The next day, when we sliced up the loaf and ate it cold accompanied by cornichons and a baguette, it seemed trés français.

Meatloaf with a French Accent

Serves 2-4

1 egg, whisked
1/2 cup minced onion
1-2 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 pound ground beef
1 skinless, boneless chicken thigh, minced
1/3 cup brandy

Preheat oven to 375°
In a large bowl mix all the ingredients together.  Place the mixture in a loaf pan approximately 8x4x2 inches.  Bake for 40-50 minutes or until the juices run clear.

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This dish works best with a fairly robust red wine.  Because the meat is not especially lean, it can handle firm tannins, and the spices in the loaf marry nicely with spicy echoes in the wine you choose.  Look for one that offers more than just forward fruit flavor.  The meatloaf wants some complexity in a wine partner.

Delas,

Ventoux

(France)

2017

(Imported by Maison Marques & Domaines USA)

 

$20

 

While the meatloaf may be faux-French, this blend of Grenache and Syrah is the real deal, originating in the southwestern section of France’s Rhône wine region. Ruby red, medium-bodied and un-oaked, this was perhaps the lightest of our wines, but it was nevertheless a delicious accompaniment to the dish.

 

 

Dry Creek,   

Dry Creek Valley Sonoma County (California)

“The Mariner”

2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

$45

 

The ripe blackberry and dark cherry elements in this big, savory wine act almost like a chutney, adding further flavor complexity and interest to the meatloaf.

 

         

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pinyolet, Montsant

(Spain)

Garnacha

2014

(Imported by Olé Imports)

 

 

 

 

 

 

    

    $15

   

 

                                                                                                 

An easygoing wine with pleasantly ripe fruit, a little spice, and a lot of character, Pinyolet’s Garnacha was also the least expensive wine in our lineup.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ravenswood,

Sonoma Valley

(California)

Zinfandel

“Barricia Vineyard”

2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

$39

 

Loaded with suggestions of dark fruit seasoned with a touch of spice, this big, opulent California Zin held its own with the meatloaf’s forthright flavors and texture.

 

 

 

 

Rodney Strong

Sonoma County

(California)

Malbec

“Reserve”

2014

 

 

 

 

$40

 

Rich fruity flavors plus a solid texture and generous finish make this an excellent choice to serve with assertive meat dishes such as this meatloaf.