In 1984, I was living in Grand Junction, Colorado, and getting ready to move to Arizona. My friend Roger stopped by to wish me well and gave me a cookbook as a going-away present. He had just returned from New Orleans; the book was Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Louisiana Kitchen, the chef’s first cookbook.
Roger had eaten at K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen, the restaurant that started the blackened redfish craze, and was totally ecstatic about the Cajun/Creole food he had there. It was all new to me, but when I opened the book and saw the liberal use of spices and herbs, I was hooked.
Of the many recipes I tried, one of my favorite’s was Cajun Meatloaf. I had never been a meatloaf fan, but with Prudhomme’s seasonings, the dish took on a new dimension. My version changed over the years, as I cooked it numerous times for friends and family. No matter what the version, the most interesting thing about cooking it was the comments. There is no middle ground when it comes to meatloaf. Some people hate it, some people love it. Some people only like their mom’s. Case in point, my brother-in-law absolutely hates meatloaf. We didn’t realize it and served him this meatloaf—he had two helpings!
In Ireland nobody really knows about meatloaf, and Clo from The French Market next door can’t imagine bread crumbs cooked with meat. That’s probably a French thing. For now, I have settled on this version, which is quite different from the original Cajun Meatloaf, although my seasonings are probably never exactly the same from loaf to loaf. Feel free to adjust the spice level to your taste, but it does need some heat! And it makes a killer sandwich.
This is a great make-ahead dish. You can store the uncooked loaves in the freezer for a week or two before plopping in the sous vide. Or, cook the loaves and then freeze them for up to 2 months. Either way, defrost and add the topping before finishing and serving.
Makes 2 loaves (about 3 servings per loaf)
For the seasoning mix
For the meatloaf
For the topping
- For the seasoning mix, combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.
- Melt butter with olive oil in a large sauté pan or skillet over medium heat. Add onions, peppers, garlic, hot sauce, Worcestershire, and the reserved seasoning mix. Cook 5 minutes. Add red wine and cook another 5 minutes. Stir in cream and ketchup. Cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool.
- Place beef and pork in a large mixing bowl. Add eggs, bread crumbs, and the cooked and cooled vegetable mixture. Stir to combine.
- Line two loaf pans or loaf-shaped plastic containers with enough plastic wrap to overlap at the top and completely cover the meat. Divide the meat mixture evenly between the two pans and smooth the tops. Fold the plastic wrap over the meat mixture to seal. Place the wrapped loaves in the freezer until firm enough to hold their shape. Uncooked loaves can be frozen for up to 2 weeks. Remove from freezer, transfer each loaf to a medium food bag, and vacuum seal. Allow to defrost before placing in the water bath.
- Preheat water bath to 131°F (55°C).
- Cook for 4 hours.
- Open the bags and transfer the loaves to a broiler pan, discarding the bag juices. Remove and discard the plastic wrap.
- Combine the topping ingredients in a small box and spread on top of the loaves. Place under a broiler long enough for the topping to get hot and slightly browned. Slice and serve.
Note: If you don’t plan on immediately assembling the final dish, quick-chill the food bags in an ice-and-water bath. Refrigerate the chilled loaves for up to three days, or freeze up to two months. Defrost before continuing. Open the bags and transfer the loaves to a broiler pan, discarding the bag juices. Remove and discard the plastic wrap. Add topping, place in a conventional oven at 350°F for about 15 minutes, and then broil until slightly browned. Slice and serve.