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Meat Un-Loafed

A blue-plate special done right
Portland Penny Diner
Baking the meat loaf free-form allows the top and sides to brown and develop a burnished crust.

Vitaly Paley's third restaurant in his Portland, Oregon, lineup, Portland Penny Diner, pays homage to the vendors and lunch wagons that filled that city's streets during the 1800s. The casual diner offers creative classics with a modern bent, including a house-made bologna breakfast sandwich with coffee mayonnaise, and executive chef Ben Bettinger's "Mom's meat loaf," his reinterpretation of the comfort staple. Earthy chile powder, plenty of fresh basil and ground fennel seed give the loaf a modern boost without sacrificing its blue-plate-special roots. Mom would approve.

Mom's Meat Loaf

Recipe adapted from Ben Bettinger, Portland Penny Diner, Portland, OR

Yield: 4 servings

Cook Time: 1 hour


1¾ pounds 80% lean ground beef

1 pound ground pork (preferably ground pork shoulder)

1 large egg

⅓ cup finely chopped basil

5 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped

½ small yellow onion, finely chopped

6 tablespoons dried breadcrumbs

5 tablespoons ketchup, divided

1½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper

1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard

1½ teaspoons ground fennel seed

1½ teaspoons onion powder

1½ teaspoons garlic powder

1½ teaspoons Chimayó or sweet paprika

¾ teaspoon dried red pepper flakes

½ teaspoon hot sauce, such as Tabasco


1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a wire rack with aluminum foil and set it over an aluminum-foil-lined rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan. Use a sharp knife to poke ½-inch-long slits into the foil-lined rack and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, add the ground beef, ground pork, egg, basil, garlic, onion, breadcrumbs, 2 tablespoons plus 1½ teaspoons ketchup, black pepper, mustard, fennel seed, onion powder, garlic powder, Chimayó and red pepper flakes. Stir the mixture together until it is uniformly combined, taking care not to overmix. Transfer the mixture to the foil-lined wire rack on the baking sheet and form into a 6- by-12-inch loaf, about 4 inches thick.

3. In a small bowl, add the remaining 2 tablespoons plus 1½ teaspoons ketchup and the hot sauce and stir to combine. Use a pastry brush or a spoon to brush the glaze over the meat loaf, coating the entire top and sides of the loaf. Bake, rotating the baking sheet halfway through cooking, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the loaf reaches 150° to 155°, about 1 hour. Remove the meat loaf from the oven and rest for 5 minutes before slicing the meat loaf crosswise and serving.


Make Spaghetti and Meatballs from Patrick McKee of Paley's Place

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