Tackling meatloaf sandwiches

Perfect for game day, or any day.

Whenever we go to an old-time diner, the first thing I look for on the menu is a meatloaf sandwich. To me, it’s better than a burger because of the peppers and onions cooked into the loaf. A little ketchup and I’m ready for a feast.

So when my wife asked me if I was interested in trying out a meatloaf recipe for a football Sunday, I could have tackled her with enthusiasm. (Cooking food for football Sundays is a tradition that goes back to when our children were really young. We’d pick a yummy recipe and make a day of feasting on football and our creations.)

All week, I was looking forward to Sunday when the New England Patriots were scheduled to play the Denver Broncos. Early on, it was postponed to Monday because of a COVID-19 positive test and, ultimately, the game was canceled.

No football. No problem. We still had to eat.

My wife is like Bill Belichick when it comes to cooking. She likes to be prepared. She gathered the ingredients and prepped them all ahead of time, strategically placing them on our kitchen island like the X’s and O’s of a football gameplan. We minced three cloves of garlic, a medium-size onion, and a green pepper. I purchased shredded Parmesan cheese instead of grated, so we punted and substituted a cup of the shredded cheese.

In a skillet, we sautéed the garlic, onion, and pepper in a tablespoon of olive oil, sending a wonderful aroma wafting through the house. Our chocolate Lab Frankie’s nose was working overtime.

While we let those veggies cool, we combined the ground beef (80/20) in a bowl with the bread crumbs, chopped parsley fresh from our herb garden, Worcestershire sauce, garlic salt, kosher salt, pepper, basil (again, fresh from the garden), eggs, adding the peppers and onions in after cooling. We added ½ cup of our homemade tomato sauce —  any marinara sauce will do —  and then we mixed the meatloaf the only way possible: We dove in with our bare hands. (This was my job, because my wife is currently on injured reserve with a sore thumb.)

Once it was all mixed, I formed the mixture into a loaf about the size of, well, a football, and put it on parchment paper on a baking sheet. We tossed the loaf into a 350° oven for an hour.

At this point, my mouth was watering, so I had to go out and toss the Frisbee with Frankie to take my mind off those meatloaf sandwiches in my future.

The recipe my wife found called for the meatloaf to be served on garlic bread. We bought some of the frozen Texas Toast (why reinvent the wheel?) and prepared those in the oven while the meatloaf rested.

After about five minutes, I carved off slices of meatloaf, heaped some more of our homemade sauce on the top, and then topped that off with slices of mozzarella cheese. We melted that under a broiler, and it was game time.

The meatloaf was tender and flavorful, but we both felt like the tomato sauce was probably too good for this sandwich. I’d actually like to try it with good ol’ Heinz ketchup on some pain de mie from the French bakery.

In fact, that sounds like a plan. We have half a meatloaf left over (no kids to share it with), so we froze the rest, and will heat it up for next Sunday’s Patriots game — hopefully.