Thursday, March 12, 2009

Friday Nights IN: Comfort Food for Hard Times

Friday Nights IN is a regular feature at GWU$20 that's intended to trim a few dollars from your entertaining budget by replacing a meal out with a meal in. Some suggestions are dinners for four, six, eight, or even ten. Some are for romantic dinners for two. And some suggestions are perfect for when you need time to yourself!

When the going gets tough, the tough turn to comfort food. This week on Friday Nights IN, I recommend a blast from the past to help lift your spirits and remind you that these hard times will pass: meatloaf and mashed potatoes. This meal will serve six, plus leave leftovers for the all-important meatloaf sandwiches the next day.

The Meal: Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans. Good meatloaf is a joy that many of us forget about in our era of sautee pans and outdoor grills. When looking for comfort recipese, I turn to the Joy of Cooking, the classic American cookbook we all grew up with. Their meatloaf is miraculous, and I recommend you take their advice and use quick-cooking oats in lieu of bread crumbs for a lighter, less gummy end product. Also, we use 1/2 ketchup and 1/2 chili sauce in the mix, and then put 2 T of chili sauce on top for the final 30 minutes of baking. This makes all the difference. If you don't have the Joy of Cooking, call your mother or your aunt. They do, and can read the recipe to you. For your mashed potatoes, our household secret ingredient is cream cheese. A little Philly cream cheese and some chicken stock in your mashed potatoes--in lieu of cream and better--will give them some extra oomph. Steam some green beans, and you'll be transported to 1969.

The Wine: With such a traditional, comforting meal you want a traditional, comforting wine. My choice would be a fruit-forward Cabernet Sauvignon from California's Central Coast. A new release I would recommend is the 2006 Festival '34 Cabernet Sauvignon from C&B Vintage Cellars. (available for $7-$15) The wine has blackberry and raspberry aromas and flavors with a hint of milk chocolate. Notes of cedar and cassis liqueur emerge in the aftertaste, which remains bright and lively.

Full Disclosure: I received this wine as a sample.


wild walla walla wine woman said...

No fair. Now I am really hungry for meatloaf and 'taters.

My aunt gave me the Joy of Cooking for high school graduation gift. Still own it. Still cook from it.

Anonymous said...

My fiance has become an expert at cooking a mean buffalo meatloaf. We discovered that a Central Coast Pinot noir also worked well to pair with it.

Claire Uncorked said...

Sounds delightful! Who doesn't love a meal like this??!

I love Cartlidge & Browne - their Pinot Noir is a fabulous value!

Anonymous said...

How do i read the other Friday Night In columns you've written? I'm planning a dinner party for 10 people and need five courses with wine for each course! What to serve? looking for ideas on your site and your column sounds perfect!

Dr. Debs said...

Claire, I made a boo-boo. I got two wires crossed. This is made by C & B Vintage Cellars, not Cartlidge & Browne. Sorry about that.

And yes, you can find all the Friday Nights IN posts by clicking on the link in the alphabetical topics index in the left side-bar.

Unknown said...

Thank you for celebrating the oft-maligned meatloaf. I've been a fan for many years, and this winter it's been one of our comfort favorites. We had the same meal last night, with snap peas instead of green beans.

Cream cheese in mashed potatoes? Hmm. I'll be trying that in my next batch.