Homemade meatloaf with ketchup icing (recipe)

Gourmet savory meatlof made easy with a great recipe and sweet patience.

Meatloaf goes well with lightly sautéed broccoli and tomatoes, or any fresh veggie and potatoes. By @talesofthecork

It’s time to put aside ugly memories of meatloaf tasting like sand and say hello to one of the best comfort food staples you’ll ever make. Plus, scroll a little further to find my wine recommendations to pair with this meal.

Believe me, while the list of ingredients seems long, the best meals always begin with your choice of ingredients. Before you get started, either open a bottle of one of these varietals or your favorite glass of red wine.

Check out my Instagram Reel to watch the process.

Wine pairing recommendations:

Sangiovese, Montepulciano, Cotes de Rhone blend, Zinfandel or Cabernet Franc. Each wine brings good structure, earthiness, varying levels of pepper and spice and dusty fruit. They’re excellent food wines which will enhance the savory goodness of the meatloaf. Heck even Cabernet and Merlot will work. Drink what you like.

Be that as it may, I chose to drink a Denner Vineyards 2008 Syrah from Paso Robles. I loved the lush, rich mouth feel, fruity characters of cassis, blackberry, and blue fruits. While I would’ve loved to have a little more earthy, leather or stone, the full-bodied and almost mocha taste certainly complemented the spice-driven and earthy meatloaf.

For even tastier meatloaf, prepare the day before to allow the ingredients to marinate in the fridge. The flavor difference is palpable!

@TalesoftheCork gourmet meatloaf for 6-8:

Dry ingredients (I use organic when available):
– 1 1/2 lbs. pasture-raised 15% ground beef
– 12 oz fine chopped Italian-style smoked chicken sausages 
– 1 large fine chopped yellow onion
– 6 shredded medium-sized carrots
– 6-10 fine chopped garlic cloves
– 3 chopped celery sticks
– 1 medium -sized thinly sliced (julienne) potato 
– 3-4 oz roasted tomato paste
– 4-6 oz chopped mushrooms
– 1/2 – 3/4 cup Panko crumbs 
– 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella, cheddar, or Parmesan cheese
– chopped parsley (to taste)

This earthy and rich 2008 Syrah by Denner Vineyards is an excellent pair. By @talesofthecork

– 4 oz chopped dried cranberries
– chopped walnuts to taste

Spice list:
– fresh cracked pepper
– Rosemary salt
– Italian seasoning
– red meat seasoning
– 4 dashes onion powder
– 4 dashes garlic powder
– red pepper flakes to taste

Wet ingredients:
– 12 oz red wine (Sangiovese, Montepulciano, Cotes de Rhone blend, Zinfandel or Cabernet Franc)
– 3 tbls Dijon mustard
– 2 whisked eggs
– 1/4 cup half-n-half
– 4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
– olive oil or avocado oil to taste

Tomato ‘icing’ list:
– 1/4 cup tomato ketchup
– 3 tbls dark brown sugar
– 1-2 dash nutmeg (season to taste)
– 1-2 dash allspice (season to taste)

Instructions: Prep time approx. 30 minutes:

I like to prep everything before I start cooking to make things easier. My recommendation is to start by finely chopping sausage, celery, onions, mushrooms, garlic, shredding the carrots, cheese, and finely slicing potatoes first, but follow your heart.

Pro tip:
Before starting the recipe, preheat a 425° oven to roast 6 oz tomato paste in olive oil and cracked pepper for 20 minutes. Remove when the edges are purple or dark brown.

1. Fresh-chop mushrooms and pan-roast them with 2 tbls of olive or avocado oil 6 oz red wine for 1 minute. Add to meat mixture.

Meatloaf is an extremely simple dish, just requires a trip to the grocery store and patience. By @talesofthecork

2. Use a large mixing bowl to combine ground beef, finely chopped sausages, onions, celery, fresh garlic, shredded carrots, roasted tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, hot mushrooms, a generous spoonful of Dijon mustard, and Panko crumbs.

3. Whisk two cracked eggs and half-and-half or cream until frothy, then add to mixture.

4. And spices to the mixture and adjust amount to your preferences.

5. Now it’s time to get dirty. Pull your sleeves up and, using your hands, vigorously mix all the ingredients until completely uniform.

6. Fill half of a greased loaf pan with the meat mixture, pressing firmly to ensure no empty spaces. Layer Julienne potato slices to cover the half-filled meat loaf pan and sprinkle cheese mixture over top the potatoes. Top with cracked pepper to season. If desired, finish layering with some fresh parsley. 

7. Fill remaining loaf pan with meat mixture to the top of the pan. Again, to ensure no empty spaces, press firmly to keep the meatloaf even.

A thin layer of cheese and thinly slicked potatoes gives a little extra zhuzh. By @talesofthecork

8. Bake loaf pan in a 375°F oven for 30 minutes. 

Pro tip:

It is a good idea to place loaf pan on a cookie sheet to protect against overflow.

9. While loaf pan is cooking, create an easy tomato-based meatloaf topping or ‘icing’ as I like to call it. Mix tomato ketchup, brown sugar, nutmeg and/or allspice to a creamy consistency. Spread mixture to cover the top of the meatloaf AFTER it has cooked for 30 minutes. Spread evenly.

10. Return meatloaf to oven for another 25 minutes or so, until loaf temperature is around 155 – 165°. Be sure to let meatloaf rest at least 10 minutes after cooking time.

Side dish recommendations:

Herb, garlic and onion roasted potatoes and roasted broccolini would complement this amazing dinner!

It is important to ensure that meat is thoroughly cooked before eating. See FDA recommendations.

Meatloaf can be served hot with scalloped potatoes, roasted broccoli, corn and/or a side salad. I know this looks like a lot, but it’s a one pan, one bowl meal. While I won’t be serving and enjoying with my vegetarian daughters, it’s a great family meal, especially in these winter months. 

Bon appétit!

Garlic Parmesan chicken in cream sauce

As social media wine and food pairing posts continue to be successful, we increasingly field requests to share recipes and/or how to adapted the ones we are using. So that said, TalesoftheCork will occasionally post behind the scene looks, sharing mistakes, messes, and triumphs as we plate and pair food.

With the potatoes roasted separately and the garlic cream sauce made, I combined them to the herbed seared chicken breasts in a baking pan.

As with most, meal preparation and execution takes some planning before placing any ingredients on the counter. While many serve garlic chicken and may be a household classic, we thought to share a base recipe from DamnDelicious.net, tweaked to fit our taste profile.

This brings me to my wife’s first suggestion to any budding home chef: Try a recipe as listed before you engage with recipe creation. We included an altered Damn Delicious.net ingredient list at the bottom of the article for a lovely, yummy, easy to create one-dish dinner.

Enjoy a single-pan Parmesan garlic cream chicken dinner with roasted potatoes and spinach this week. The key to any meal is prepare a grocery list over the weekend make sure your staples are stocked.

Directions for Parmesan garlic cream chicken: 50-60 minutes

1. Coat both sides of the skinless chicken breasts with olive oil. Rub cracked pepper, Italian and rotisserie seasonings on the chicken then sprinkle Kosher salt to taste. However, our preferences are WalterSalt.comTangerine Wheat salt because of their subtle citrus and umami, savory flavors. We think the key to delicious meat preparation is bringing it to room temperature and seasoning at least 30 minutes before cooking. Let set.

2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. If you have the ability to use a convection oven, this will spend up the process, reducing cooking times.

3. Pour a couple of ounces of olive oil in and heat in a large skillet. Then melt a couple of tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Be careful not to burn the butter.

You might choose to taste your wine or beverage during dinner preparation. This week we tried a Sonoma County Maldonado Chardonnay.

4. Sear the meat on both sides until flesh is golden brown. Do not over cook, about 2-3 minutes. Set aside on separate dish.

5. I like to roast my Yukon gold potatoes before cooking them with the chicken mixture. Chop them into quarters (or smaller chunks) and mixed them in olive oil and cracked pepper. Put in a open roaring dish and place in the 400 degree F oven while preparing rest of meal (15-20 minutes). This will ensure they will bake all the way through but also have that roasted aroma and flavor we love.

6. In a sauce pan, melt a couple of tablespoons of butter and a splash of olive oil then add chopped garlic over medium heat. Continuously stir to avoid burning garlic for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Overcooked garlic will become bitter tasting. Whisk 2-3 tablespoons of flour into the butter and garlic, staring until lightly brown, about a minute.

7. We like adding a splash of dry white wine at this point (our preference is a light oaked Chardonnay) at this point to further infuse the mixture with flavor. Slowly add the chicken broth, fresh thyme and a basil leaf. Cook and whisk the mixture thoroughly until consistent–another minute or two.

8. Slowly incorporate the half and half and sprinkle in the grated Parmesan cheese a small handful at a time. Keep stirring. The heat should remain medium yet hot enough to melt the cheese to create a creamy consistency. This will take a couple of minutes. Adjust Parmesan to thicken or adjust density. Add more salt and pepper as per personal taste.

TIP: Add some extra half and half if mixture is too thick. If cream sauce is too thin, add a teaspoon of flour to a splash of cool milk and shake in a separate container to dissolve. Add to hot cheesy cream.

9. Place seared chicken breast on bottom of greased/prepared baking pan. Remove roasting potatoes from oven and place on and around seasoned chicken breasts. Pour prepared garlic and Parmesan creme sauce over the ingredients.

As a one-dish meal, the garlic Parmesan sauce carries the dish. Add the spinach and parsley in the last minute of baking just to wilt the greens.

10. Place in middle of hot oven and roast until chicken is completely cooked through, reaching internal temperature of 165 F. Use a thermometer to check temp. This should take about 25-30 minutes or quicker depending on whether you are using a conventional or convection oven.

11. During bake time, chop the spinach and parsley to add near the end of the cooking time. As temperatures in the chicken reach the safe zone, pull dish from oven and use a large serving dish to spoon the spinach into the hot dish and garlic sauce to cook for the last five minutes. Most vegetables break down and lose their nutrients if they are overcooked. Remember, after washing spinach, it can be eaten raw so just cook it enough to wilt it in the garlic sauce.

12. Garnish dish with parsley and serve immediately.

We paired our Parmesan garlic cream chicken with a Maldonado Vineyards 2010 Parr Vineyard Chardonnay. The Sonoma County wine was fabulous with the dish. This  cool Chardonnay has green apple and citrus notes but amazing depth. It also has ripe stone fruit, vanilla and toasty nuts but its minerality comes through with a light creamy texture. This is a big wine and is rich and can handle a wide variety of foods.

Look for their 2012 vintage online. Maldonado Vineyards also has other Napa Valley Chardonnay examples.

Chardonnays are a good choice for creamy, mild and buttery foods and pair well with this roasted herbed chicken in a garlic cream sauce.

However a wide variety of Chardonnays are a good choice for this one-dish meal. Look for Chardonnays that are lightly oaked, with ripe fruit, and hearty. They pair well with simple dishes that are mild, creamy, silky and buttery. Foods that are grilled or roasted do well as risottos and cream-enhanced soups or pastas. Also meaty fish like halibut, cod and rich tasting shellfish.


4 skinless organic chicken breasts

Italian seasoning (to taste)

Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper (to taste)

4 tablespoons of unsalted butter

2 cups of washed baby spinach, roughly chopped

4 Yukon gold potatoes, cut and quartered

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish

2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil


1/4 cup unsalted butter

In 50-60 minutes, you can serve a hot and healthy one-dish meal.

6 cloves of chopped garlic

2-3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour

a splash of dry white wine

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

1 teaspoon dried or 2 teaspoons fresh thyme

1/2 cup half and half

1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan

Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste

Thanks again to the original chicken and potatoes recipe on Damn Delicious.

Be sure to read TalesoftheCork’s previous blog post, “Lodi Wine Country: Boutique winery innovation.” And if winemakers, wineries or restaurants are interested in a TalesoftheCork wine and/or food review on the blog, InstagramTwitter and/or Facebook, please send us a request via email: talesofthecork@gmail.com or use DM on social media. TalesoftheCork also offers social media seminars for businesses.

Rigatoni à la Bordelaise with Bordeaux

TalesoftheCork wine reviews

After reading about the Chateau Haut-Sorillon Bordeaux Superieur online, I decided to try the 2014 version with a classic French dish.

While I often shop at Trader Joe’s for staples, I rarely purchase wine from them. However, after repeatedly hearing from a number of followers and seeing a few of their choices on blogs online, a bottle of Chateau Haut Sorillon Bordeaux Superieur 2014 ended up on our table last night.

A Trader Joe’s find at $8.95, the Chateau Haut Sorillon Bordeaux Supérieur 2014 medium bodied dry Bordeaux is not a special occasion or weekend wine per se, but it seemed to fit what I was looking for as Geena and I were preparing a French inspired dinner: Rigatoni à la Bordelaise with mushrooms.

While the wine is not as rich and lush as a classic Bordeaux, my intent was to pair our Rigatoni with a wine that might match up with an “everyday dish” that folks could make without a lot of pretense. And, for the most part, this value wine fits the bill.

Now, I’m not saying I’d skip on the opportunity for a higher value Merlot, but for the simple, earthy one pan meal, we enjoyed the Chateau Haut Sorillon Bordeaux Supérieur 2014.

However, here’s a TalesoftheCork tip: Definitely open your bottle hours in advance as the wine will be tight and needs to open up. We gave it three hours but as the evening went on, the Merlot blend got smoother and allowed the dark fruit flavors to advance. Patience helps. Open early. I might even try the night before next time.

Rigatoni à la Bordelaise and mushrooms.

The light style 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet blend is from a family estate 5 km from St. Emilion, France, will show its fresh dark fruit, pepper and spices and a dry finish, highlighting a good but thin blackberry and smoky finish. It is a value buy but went well with our Tuesday Rigatoni à la Bordelaise and mushrooms.

While we looked up a few recipes, Geena and I created our own version of the dish based on the  Manger site recipe by Mimi Thorisson.

Heat 2 table spoons of olive oil add cook one finely chopped leek and 3 cloves of minced garlic in a hot pan. Cook 3 minutes or until golden.

In a separate pan fry the pancetta and/or thickly sliced bacon to crisp them until brown.  Then add a tablespoon of flour to the leeks, garlic and the bacon bits to help thicken.

Add tomato passata (ready cut plain diced tomatoes) to the leeks, garlic and bacon mixture. Cook on low heat for 10-15 minutes.

Later we added 1/3 cup chicken broth and 3/4 cup red wine (the Chateau Haut-Sorillon Bordeaux) along with butter, pepper, salt and a pinch of Chipotle chili pepper to create a saucy soup-like mixture. But it is important to reduce the mixture over medium to low heat up and simmer for 30 minutes so it is lush but not runny.

Many will fry or cook the mushrooms (we used dried porcini and shiitake mushrooms) in a separate hot pan with butter and garlic to sear and cook those earthy items until golden and add to the other mixture.

The earthy flavors of the Rigatoni à la Bordelaise with mushrooms pairs well with the Chateau Haut Sorillon.

As the mixture is reducing, boil your water and cook the rigatoni. While you are waiting, you might start your meal with a garden salad. Dry the rigatoni and dish the mixture over the pasta, stirring the sauce in. Sprinkle with Parmesan, fresh parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.

With a long decant the Chateau Haut Sorillon Bordeaux Superior 2014 wine will pair well with chicken and meat dishes as well as cheese and charcuterie plates. This is a good party wine with finger foods as well. A Trader Joe’s value wine from $7-9.

Be sure to read the previous TalesoftheCork blog post: Simple Caprese lunch with Emmolo SauvBlanc. And if winemakers, wineries or restaurants are interested in a TalesoftheCork wine and/or food review on the blog, InstagramTwitter and/or Facebook, please send us a request via email: talesofthecork@gmail.com or use DM on social media. TalesoftheCork also offers social media seminars for businesses.

Grocery list for Rigatoni à la Bordelaise with mushrooms:

1 pound of rigatoni pasta
7 slices of thick bacon or pancetta (diced)
8 ounces of porcini mushrooms,
8 ounces of shiitake mushrooms
2 leeks (finely chopped)
4 garlic cloves (finely minced, 2 for the sauce, 2 for the mushrooms)
1 15-ounce can of ready cut plain diced tomatoes
3/4 cup red wine (I used the Chateau Haut Sorillon Bordeaux Superior 2014)
14 ounce can of chicken broth
1 tbsp plain flour
Olive oil (for frying)
1 tbsp butter (for mushrooms)
1 tbsp butter (for pasta)
Salt and pepper (for seasoning)
1 pinch chilli powder
Grated parmesan cheese (for topping)
Parsley to garnish