Thursday, March 19, 2015

Hell's Backbone Grill's Spicy Meatloaf #recipe @LucyBurdette

LUCY BURDETTE: A few months ago, I shared a blue cornmeal blueberry pancake recipe fashioned after the ones I ate at the Hell's Backbone Grill in Boulder, Utah. 

For months since that visit, I've been thinking about the meatloaf I had at the same restaurant. Last weekend we were celebrating with a friend who landed a new job after a rough couple of years, and I decided this meatloaf could help us toast the occasion. The recipe (barring a few tweaks) comes from the Hell's Backbone Grill's lovely cookbook, WITH A MEASURE OF GRACE. 

They serve their loaf with a spicy and rich sauce that I also made, though cutting quantities in half. (Take a look at the ingredient list--I mean  RICH.) Someday I'll try making homemade adobo sauce, but in this case, I used a can. 

Begin by drizzling a little olive oil over two large red peppers and 3-4 garlic cloves (leave the garlic cloves in their skins). Roast in a 350 oven for 45 minutes or so until the peppers collapse. You should turn them a few times during cooking. When cooked, put them in a glass bowl and cover with plastic wrap. They will steam and the skins will be easy to remove. This can be done the day before.

Meatloaf Ingredients

2 cups day-old bread, crumbled (I used pieces of nice baguette from the freezer and cut off the crusts)
2 lbs ground beef (I used a little more, organic)
1 and 1/2 large red peppers, roasted and peeled (see above)
1 and 1/4 cups milk
1/4 cup mustard (Dijon in my case)
1/2 cup ketchup
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon salt (more if needed)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 large onion, chopped
2 chipotle peppers and their adobo sauce
2 cloves roasted garlic
3 eggs, whisked with a fork

Mix the bread crumbs with the milk, mustard, ketchup, spices, and Worcestershire sauce and let these ingredients soak for 15 minutes. Then mix the meat in. Meanwhile, chop the onions into small pieces. (I used the food processor.) Then chop the chipotle and roasted red peppers, and the garlic, and add this plus the onions and eggs to the meat mixture and stir everything well.

The Hell's Backbone Grill cookbook called for two loaf pans, which I did not have on hand. I thought I could use my regular method of shaping the loaf in a 9 by 13 pan. However, this mixture is quite wet--hence the loaf pan recommendation. (Duh!) So I used a 9-inch diameter ceramic souffle dish. 

All good, except instead of taking an hour and ten minutes to cook at 350 as suggested, my enormous round loaf took almost two. Luckily the guests remained jolly in the face of the delay! I served the finished dish with mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli and Backbone sauce.

 Backbone Sauce

1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
1 tablespoon cumin
1/2 lime, juiced
1-2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1/2 red pepper, roasted, seeded, and peeled
1 clove roasted garlic

Spin all of the ingredients together in a food processor until mostly smooth. Serve on the meatloaf or on the side. (It was also delicious the next day on a meatloaf sandwich.) (And ps, now I realize I've never posted my own recipe for meatloaf, and I'll remedy that soon!)

When she is not busy cooking, eating and blogging, Lucy Burdette writes the Key West food critic mystery series.
 Fatal Reservations, the sixth book in the series, will be in bookstores on July 7, but you can certainly order it now!


  1. It's not entirely clear from the recipe, but I gather the oven should be at 350F or something like that for the meatloaf. Can you verify?

  2. Love the addition of chipotle and adobo, Lucy. There's plenty of heat in this recipe, and it looks delicious.

    ~ Cleo

  3. If you've remembered that meatloaf this long, it must be worth trying! It's not your grandmother's meatloaf any more.

    1. I loved everything I ate in that restaurant Sheila. Hope we go back some day! The cookbook is the next best thing...

  4. You have lucky friends to have you make a marvelous meal like this for them.

    1. Thanks Libby. I think all of the friends here at MLK have turned into guinea pigs:)

  5. Hate to reveal my ignorance so soon, but I don't understand one ingredient: chipotle peppers and "their adobo sauce." Does this mean a specific sauce made from the peppers?

    1. Sorry Lisa, I should have explained. The chipotles are dried jalapenos. These peppers come in a sauce made of tomato puree, vinegar, sweetening. I bought mine in a can.

  6. I can just imagine how flavorful this is! Lesson of the day–split meatloaf into two baking pans?

  7. Wow! Quite a production, but I bet the result was wonderful. My mouth is watering, Lucy/Roberta. Thanks for something quite unusual.