The best bowl of gumbo I ever had was my first one. That’s the way it goes with me, more often than not. My first experience with anything that’s new and wonderful finds a special and permanent home in my heart. My first gumbo experience was at a seafood restaurant in north Texas…far, far away from the gulf coast, where seafood reigns supreme. I sat alone, outside, at a picnic table on a wooden deck, on a chilly, rainy autumn evening and I watched the cars as they sped down the wet street. That bowl of gumbo warmed my bones and lifted my soul. The aroma, steaming upward from the bowl, was a magical mixture of earthiness and briny sea. The flavor was complex and deep, yet comfortable like my favorite winter coat.
Gumbo is truly American, like Jazz, which is to say that it is the marriage of many cultures from around the world. Gumbo is influenced by African, French, Spanish, German and native American cuisines. Gumbo represents what America aspires to be. Find a seat and share your story with us. Everyone is welcome here.
I’m still adjusting to cooking for two or three people
instead of four, or more. It seems like
it would be simple enough to divide a recipe in half but, when it comes right down
to it, my brain still tells me to keep cooking on a larger scale. Some dishes lend themselves well to leftovers
while some others don’t. Leftovers are
great for lunches the next day but after a few days of cooking too much food,
the refrigerator tends to become packed with lots of little storage
containers. I find myself going through
the refrigerator every weekend and tossing uneaten leftovers.
This meatloaf would be perfect for leftovers, if I had made
the full recipe. A meatloaf sandwich, with
some potato chips and applesauce might make a nice lunch.
So, here is the modest meat loaf…one that can be shared by
two or three people.
1.25 lbs ground chuck (80/20)
1 cup rolled oats
1 tsp Cajun seasoning
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp paprika
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp dried oregano
3 Tbs ketchup
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
For the potatoes and
5 small russet potatoes
2 cups cooking oil
½ lb fresh green beans
1 garlic clove, smashed
1 Tbs honey
1 Tbs butter
¼ cup water
Wash and dry the potatoes.
Cut the potatoes into large, one inch pieces. Add 2 cups of oil to a large skillet and set
the heat to low. Add the potatoes and
let them fry for about 45 minutes. Frying at a low temperature results in
crispy potatoes with creamy interiors.
Combine the Cajun seasoning, onion powder, paprika, garlic powder, salt and
oregano in a small bowl and mix.
In a large mixing bowl, add the ground beef. Add the oats and egg. Mix to combine.
Add the spices, ketchup and Worcestershire sauce. Mix thoroughly.
Put the meat mixture in a 9” x 5” non-stick loaf pan. Cook uncovered in a 325° oven for 45 minutes.
While the meat loaf and potatoes cook, wash the green beans
and snip off the ends. Set aside until
the potatoes are done.
Once the potatoes are cooked, drain in a strainer and
reserve the oil for another day. Keep the
potatoes in a warm area until ready to serve.
Put the green beans in the skillet and return to the stove. Set the temperature at medium low and toss the green beans for a few minutes.
Add the garlic, honey and butter and stir. Add the water and simmer, covered for 15 minutes.
While the green beans steam, remove the meat loaf from the oven
and place on a serving dish. Keep warm.
When the green beans have softened and are cooked to your
liking, arrange them on the plate with the meat loaf.
The amount of Cajun seasoning in this recipe shouldn’t be over-powering. If you want to add some kick, make a side dish of ketchup and hot sauce (2 parts ketchup to 1 part hot sauce).