sister had a business partner in her restaurant for a number of years, who, to
protect his identity, I'll call him Tattoo. He was a vegetarian -- I know, I know, but you can't argue with crazy. Tattoo didn't just avoid eating
meat, he was grossed out by it. Not good for a chef, and even worse for
one who cooked at a restaurant that had a wildly popular dish called Misery
I had heard that Tattoo didn't much like making the meatloaf, but that
didn't begin to describe his discomfort. Here's how it went down when I stopped
by one afternoon to learn how it was made.
Tattoo began by pouring some
milk into a large bowl, into which dove some homemade bread for a leisurely swim
and soak. He then moved onto the meat portion of the agenda, turning his head
away as he dropped a huge amount of fresh ground beef into a stainless steel
bowl. Like Indiana Jones averting his gaze from the Ark of the Covenant, Tattoo
couldn't risk looking.
"Sometimes a fleck of meat flies out at my face"
In went copious amounts of Worcestershire sauce, ketchup,
eggs, chopped onions, salt, and pepper. He went back to the now soggy-with-milk
bread, broke it up, and added it to the meat bowl, before sitting down for a
"What's up?" I ask, "did you forget something?"
taking a moment to psyche myself up is all."
He walked over and grabbed a
wooden box, placing it in front of the counter with the meat bowl. It seemed
that to really bear down and mix the meatloaf, he needed a bit more height than
his DNA had provided. Stepping up and taking a deep breath, he plunged his arms
into the bowl and began to mix. Almost immediately, he also began to
"Are you OK, dude?" I asked him.
"Not really, no" he told
now his arms were covered in blood past his elbows. He had a look on his face
like he was a waterboard victim at Gitmo. His rhythmic gag reflex reminded
me of a cat trying to eject a fur ball.
"Not only [gag] is this
completely disgusting [rak], but it's cold as hell [gerk] and my arms are going
numb [cak] below my biceps. Jesus, I can't [guk] do this anymore [mmph] or I'll
He stepped down from his little booster step and ran for the
"Brad," he asked "would you do me a favor and dump that meat onto
the sheet pan and make a couple of loaves?"
He didn't have to ask twice.
I picked up the huge bowl, plopped the beef onto the pan, and started making a
couple of enormous loaves of delicious meatloaf.
"What kind of beef is
this?" I asked.
"Just beef, man. Local butcher, local farm,
"So this was walking around a few weeks ago?" I
"I'm begging you Brad, please stop talking about it. Just make the
loaves and let me sit for a second."
While I continued to shape the
loaves, Tattoo sat against the wall with his head between his legs, a bottle of
water in his hand. It wasn't a good look for a chef.
"When you're done,
just put it in the oven and set a timer for 45 minutes. It needs to be
With that, he left the kitchen.
When it was all said and
done, I sat down to a plate.
"Tattoo, this is really, really great,
"Thanks. But I don't think I can make it much longer. It's just
not worth the work."
Yes it is, Tattoo, yes it surely
Misery Meatloaf (human family sized loaf)
your oven to 375.
Put the following in a large mixing bowl:
pounds of fresh, high fat ground beef
1 medium minced onion
1 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 tsp salt
Soak 2 slices of white bread (crusts removed) for a few minutes in
a separate bowl that contains a 1/2 cup milk. Break the bread up, add it to the
meat mixture and mix well. Form into loaf and place in oven for 45
While the loaf is cooking, make a glaze with the
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp spicy brown
Brush the loaf with the glaze, and cook for an additional 15
minutes, or until meat has reached 160.
Remove from oven and let rest for
a few minutes before eating.
Bacon Lovers' Variation
placing the loaf in oven, cover it with a few pieces of raw bacon. The fat oozes into
the loaf, and the crispy top is awesome.
West Texas "You've Got To Be
Kidding Me" Variation
A friend's dad used to make meatloaf with hot
dogs placed lengthwise inside the loaf like girders. Each slice would have a
disc or two of dog within. I suppose those creative enough could make a smiley
face, but I've only heard tell of this variation and simply included it to gross
Postscript: Shortly after I visited the restaurant,
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Misery Meatloaf was taken off the menu, much to the dismay of the restaurant's
customers. Tattoo simply couldn't deal.
Bradford Schmidt is The Meatist. He's also author of the blog Bone in the Fan. He lives in northern Palm Beach County and gags at the sight of vegetarians.