I mentioned something the other week about my life exploding. It does that, from time to time, and I’m not sure if it’s an outward explosion as much as it is the disaster in my own head leaking out like biowaste, but the long and the short of it is that I am terrible with money. Just awful. I have bills, but in the past I have moved often and forgotten to reroute my mail or forgot I had certain bills, only to remember them six, eight, ten months later when the shit has not only hit the fan but spattered and slapped me awake at midnight on a work night and when that happens I can’t sleep and start filling out Expressions of Interest online in the hope that I’ll qualify for a move to New Zealand.
I do. Qualify, that is. As a “skilled migrant,” imagine that!
I paid off my last credit card last week. Paid it off in full. The cards are gone, chopped to bits, and that chapter in my financial saga has closed. That chapter, but not the one where I owe the government for that education it funded and now wants me to pay for. It’s an unnerving thing to realize that your moderate success in paying off an aggressive strain of debt is worth only minor celebration, because there’s this other bill that you haven’t been paying attention to, and you don’t know what’s going to come of it.
I have an appointment on Saturday to talk about debt consolidation and being a responsible adult. And, it’s almost midnight, and I can’t help but log in to my account with Immigration New Zealand and look at my in-progress application and sigh. Running away isn’t going to solve anything, is it?
This thing is dogging me in my real life, and the stress of this and work and finding a new apartment is making me quite insufferable. I’m cranky at work. I’m fussy at home. I ruined the polenta yesterday. And I scraped the seeds out of a very hot pepper this evening, using my thumbnail, and every time I habitually pick at my bottom lip, I feel burning and then I tongue it and then my tongue burns too.
It’s at times like these when comfort food is oh-so-necessary. I love meatloaf. I also like the way the word “Wellington” sounds and feels to say. And it’s coldish out now – long sleeves and leggings weather. Sweaters and jeans weather, almost.
You’re probably a million times more responsible than I am, and surely your life never explodes. Hopefully yours doesn’t keep you up at night. But I am certain that at some point this winter, you are going to want to be cuddled, and if your version of Nick is also addicted to oppressively loud and rather gruesome first-person shooter games, you’re going to have to find love in food.
Fortunately, meatloaf wellington will love you right back. And it never charges.
Make the meatloaf the day before you want to make this. It will be a bijillion times better, though make sure it’s at room temperature before you wellington the thing. The meatloaf part of the recipe has been adapted from Fannie Farmer, though I’ve made it so many times that it’s morphed some, and is now an improved version. Not as good for you as Fannie’s, but I don’t think you visit here for your health.
- 2 cups bread crumbs
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 eggs
- 2 large cloves of garlic, finely minced
- 1 lb. ground beef (don’t use extra-lean – regular lean will be fine here. For moisture’s sake)
- 1 lb. ground pork
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tsp. dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 cup melted butter
- 4 slices of bacon
Preheat your oven to 350°F.
In a large bowl, combine all of your ingredients except the bacon, and mush together with your hands. You want the ingredients to mix together, but you also want the meat to keep a bit of texture.
Press into a greased loaf pan, and top to cover with the four strips of bacon.
I like to make sure there’s no sticking at the bottom of the pan, so I always cover the bottom with a piece of parchment paper.
Bake for 45 minutes, and then pull out of the oven and let cool in the pan. Set aside, preferably overnight. Once again, it should be at room temperature for the next steps, so if you refrigerate the thing overnight, then take it out an hour or so beforehand to take off the chill.
- 1 large onion
- 1 tbsp. butter
- 1 1/2 tbsp. Dijon or Bavarian mustard
- 1 large sheet of puff pastry (enough to wrap a meatloaf … if the piece you have isn’t big enough, layer the second piece [there are always two to a package] so that the meatloaf is completely enveloped.)
- 1 egg, beaten
Slice the onion into very thin strips and caramelize in the butter over medium heat until dark golden. This should take 20 to 30 minutes, and you will periodically need to deglaze the pan with a few tablespoons of water.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out your puff pastry to a size that will suit your meatloaf, and spread with the mustard. When the onions are ready, spread them out over the pastry as well. Be sure to leave plenty of room around the edges for folding and sealing the pastry.
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Place the meatloaf in the centre of the pastry, bacon-side down. Paint the edges of the pastry with a bit of egg, and wrap the pastry around the meatloaf as if you were folding the world’s meatiest present.
Turn over and rest on a baking sheet lined with parchment, seam-side down. Paint the top and sides of the wellington with the egg, sprinkle with salt, if you like, and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the pastry is golden and puffed.
Serve with gratin potatoes and garlicky mushrooms and the kind of wine that’s tasty but also affordable. You can think about other things, like New Zealand, tomorrow.