On cold winter nights, especially during the holiday season, there is no better pairing than one of your favorite comfort food dishes and a great California wine. Like Romeo and Juliette, cookies and milk, Foies Gras with Chateau d’Yquem or truffles with almost everything, it’s a perfect combination!
Comfort food is true soul food. Every country, state, city and neighborhood have their own version of comfort food. In our house, where I grew up, it was meatloaf. Every time I have the dish, it reminds of growing up and family dinners. I’m instantly transported back to the innocence of childhood and sharing dinner with the family.
Before making the dish, Josette Meeks and Natania were not excited about it. Their thoughts drifted to overcooked, dried out beef slathered with ketchup. While some cooks do make something like that and call it meatloaf. In my home, the goal is to raise meatloaf to an art form.
There is no right or wrong way to prepare this comfort dish. But a little creativity goes a long way. Including a myriad of fresh, vegetables and onions is a good place to start. Sweat them first and set them aside. Fresh bread crumbs, brioche if it is available, is a must. I included chantrelle mushrooms, which were sauteed with garlic, shallots and green parsley. Don’t forget the egg, or two to bind this all together. All that is great. But it’s called meatloaf for a reason. After countless experiments, 75% beef and 25% pork works great. If you want to add veal, that’s fine too.
A crust adds flavor, texture and color. Start the oven off at 500 degrees and let the dish cook at that heat until a crust is formed. Lower the temperature to 350 at that point and cook until the internal temperature is about 155 to 160 degrees at the center. Let it rest 5 minutes and serve with mashed potatoes and open something rich to pair it with.
On this occasion, we enjoyed one of my favorite producers of California Cabernet Sauvignon, Spottswoode. Spottswoode has been on a roll since 1994, They produce a great style of Cabernet. It’s rich, ripe and deeply concentrated, but it’s not over the top. 2007 could be the best wine the estate has produced yet!
2007 Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon – From a blend of 97% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Cabernet Franc, this sublime California Cabernet Sauvignon pops with aromas of fresh blueberries, blackberry jam, earth, spice with coffee bean and vanilla. While concentrated with multiple layers of ripe fruit, this is not over the top. Everything is in balance. With opulent, rich textures and a long, fresh, deep, ripe, rich, dark berry finish, this the best wine I’ve tasted from Spottswoode. Based on still having vintages from 1994 forward in my cellar, this should age and improve for at least 20 years.