A Heart-Shaped Meatloaf

As promised, a favorite meatloaf recipe.

For her entire life, my mother made meatloaf in the shape of a heart.  I still do.   The winning ratio is 2:1 -- two pounds beef to 1 pound onions.  But the real secret is the inclusion of ice water, and sometimes an ice cube or two, to keep the meat very juicy and moist.    As a teen I had the surprise (or disappointment) of my life when I sat down to a meal in the shape of a...loaf. Apparently my parents had a fight and my mother had no intention of using those romantic hands of hers that day to shape the familiar mixture into a big red heart (which she glazed with a bit of ketchup.)  It only happened once, but I never forgot it.  My first experience with a meat loaf, instead of a heart, still looms large.  In her day, my mother used ground sirloin and 4-C seasoned breadcrumbs.  Today, I use a combination of sirloin and chuck (for flavor and increased fat content) and add panko.  I also roast halved plum tomatoes alongside the "heart" and then pile them on top before serving.   It is very delicious and quite sensuous to sculpt with your hands.

Heart-Shaped Meatloaf with Charred Tomatoes

2 pounds ground beef (a combination of sirloin and chuck) 1 pound onions, finely chopped 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 1/2 cup panko or dried breadcrumbs 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard 6 tablespoons ketchup 2 teaspoons sriracha 1 clove garlic 1 egg yolk 1 tablespoon best-quality dried oregano 6 ripe medium plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise ¼ cup freshly-chopped chives

Preheat oven to 375.  Put ground meat in a large bowl.  Melt butter in very large skillet.  Add onions and ½ teaspoon salt; cook 15 minutes until dark brown; add to bowl.  Add panko, mustard, 2 tablespoons ketchup, sriracha, garlic, pushed through a press, oregano, and ½ teaspoon salt.  Add egg yolk and 1/2 cup ice water and mix well with your hands.  Place on rimmed baking sheet; form into a large heart shape.  Cover with thin layer of remaining ketchup.  Place halved tomatoes, cut side up, around edge of pan; sprinkle with salt.  Bake 45 minutes.  Turn tomatoes over, arrange on heart and drizzle with pan juices. Sprinkle with chives.  Serves 4