There’s a delectable allure to an open-faced sandwich, don’t you think?
It rests on the plate, there in its full glory, proudly showcasing the mouthwatering ingredients that it is comprised of; and in the case of a soul-comforting, open-faced meatloaf sandwich, those enticing morsels are the thick, crusty bread that the fluffy and creamy mashed potatoes are piled on top of, with the crowing jewel being the succulent and juicy, crispy-fried meatloaf patty that has been glossed with a flowing little river of gravy and a few scattered, earthy mushrooms.
Ah, what a sight for the eyes of someone with an appetite to behold!
An open-faced meatloaf sandwich carefully placed down on the table in front of a hungry soul stirs up the interest and the desire of that soul, and engages the senses through it’s very openness—it’s “availability”—and creates a complete and intentional experience for the one about to bite in. There’s a sort of vulnerability there, an honest display of what is happening on the inside, not obscured at all by a piece of bread on top.
The open-faced sandwich is special; there’s a beauty in what it’s willing to reveal, which is everything.
And it reminds me a bit of how beautifully vulnerable our own souls are when we are willing to bare them, and share them with one another in order to elicit the compassion that lies within us, as well as that appetite for connection.
My husband and I belong to a wonderful group that gets together for about an hour and a half prior to our church service each week. Our group has been together for about a year now, and the openness that has developed between us as we share our stories and our spiritual journeys with one another is amazing and inspiring to witness; we’re also discovering that it is incredibly therapeutic to our spirits, as well.
A member of our group, and a dear friend of ours, shared with all of us this past weekend that she had made the decision to quite smoking after being a life-long, two-pack-a-day smoker. She had never previously spoken openly about her struggle with smoking and how she had already tried to quit numerous times, but now felt the desire to open her soul and ask each of us to help her along by keeping her in our thoughts and prayers.
She had also shared with the group that the few people she had already confided in about this a few days earlier, had been offering her incredible support and encouragement through their positive text messages that were filled with kind words and heart-felt prayers for her peace, success and comfort as she embarked on this very challenging and even physically painful process.
Our friend described how difficult her previous attempts at quitting were, but that this time, she wanted to try a new approach. She wanted to become vulnerable and share what she was going through and not keep it to herself; to engage us, her friends, in hopes that this would be the final, successful attempt, in large part, because of the very support and love that each of us could bring to her.
And though each day not smoking has been extremely difficult for her, she is doing wonderfully, taking all of our hopes and desires for her success and using them to strengthen herself and bask in the glow of our love and care for her. She explained to us that she had never felt as much power and ability to put this habit behind her as she did this time around, and it was because she chose to be vulnerable, open and receptive to what each of us are willing to provide her with, which is our connection, compassion and desire for her well-being—the prayers of our hearts.
It is not easy for most of us to be vulnerable and open about what is happening in our lives, or to communicate what we need from one another. It is difficult to put on display all that we have within us for others to see in full view. I understand this on a personal level.
But when we do decide to be courageous and reveal what we have inside, we give opportunity to those around us to rise to the occasion of being involved in our life, activating their desire to be compassionate and encouraging, which is so much a part of what bonds and strengthens us as human beings.
When we choose to open ourselves up and put on display all of the “ingredients” that we contain within us—those ingredients that make up who we are and what we’re all about—then we entice those around us to partake in our life, and enjoy the flavor of who we are and who we will one day be.
We become like that comfortingly delicious open-faced, crispy-fried meatloaf patty sandwich, fully showcasing what we are made up of, in order to engage and entice others to participate in our life experience with us.
And, somehow, divinely, that ends up feeding everyone involved.
Taste what’s good and pass it on.
Open-Faced, Crispy-Fried Meatloaf Patty Sandwich with Creamy Whipped Potatoes, topped with Gravy & Seared Shiitake Mushrooms
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves 4
• 1 pound ground beef (85/15 fat ratio)
• ¼ onion, very finely minced
• 1 clove garlic, pressed through garlic press
• 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
• Freshly cracked black pepper
• ½ teaspoon granulated onion
• 1 egg
• 2-3 tablespoons whole milk
• 2 cups (loosely packed) fresh breadcrumbs (I used 1 medium French roll and processed it)
• 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
• 1 ¼ cup panko breadcrumbs, finely processed in food processor
• Canola oil
• 7 ounces shiitake mushrooms, sliced
• 4 slices (thick-sliced) country white bread, or Texas Toast, toasted
• Creamy Whipped Potatoes (recipe below)
• Simple Meatloaf Gravy (recipe below)
-Add the ground beef into a large bowl, and add in the minced onion, the garlic, 1 teaspoon of the salt, the Italian seasoning, ½ teaspoon of the ground black pepper, the granulated onion, the egg, the milk, the fresh breadcrumbs and the chopped parsley, and gently mix the ingredients into the meat until well-combined, but not over-mixed.
-Divide the meat into 4 equal portions, and shape those portions into the general shape of your bread, making them slightly bigger, as the patties will shrink a little as they fry.
-Gently press each of the patties in the panko breadcrumbs, flipping them to coat both sides evenly.
-Place a large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and add in enough oil to coat the bottom well, and to shallow fry; once the oil is hot, add the patties (work in batches, if necessary) and allow them to fry for about 4-5 minutes per side, or until cooked through and golden-brown and crispy; allow the fried patties to drain on paper towels, and keep warm.
-Wipe/clean out the same large pan, and add another good drizzle of oil in; once the oil is hot, add in the shiitake mushrooms, along with a pinch of salt and ground black pepper, and allow them to saute for a few minutes until they become golden-brown and seared; set aside and keep warm.
-Build your open-faced sandwich by piling some of the Creamy Whipped Potatoes onto the toasted bread, and top with a Crispy-Fried Meatloaf patty followed by some of the sauteed mushrooms and a generous pour of the Simple Meatloaf Gravy.
Creamy Whipped Potatoes Ingredients:
• 6 medium russet potatoes, peeled and diced
• 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temp
• ½ – ¾ cup whole milk
-Add the cubed potatoes to a pot and cover with water; add a couple of generous pinches of salt, so that the water is well-salted and will help season the potatoes as they cook.
-Turn the heat on medium-high and bring the potatoes to the boil, and allow them to cook for about 22-25 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a small knife of fork; drain, and place them back onto very low heat for about 30 seconds just to “dry” them of their water a bit more.
-To make your whipped potatoes, use a potato ricer if you have one, as it will create lump-free and fluffy potatoes; if you don’t have one, then just use a masher, and mash the potatoes very well until they are as lump-free as possible.
-Add the butter into the potatoes, along with about ½ cup of the milk to start with, and blend/fold those into the potatoes until the butter is melted and the milk is incorporated (use more milk, if necessary); check your seasoning and add salt if needed; keep warm.
Simple Meatloaf Gravy Ingredients:
• 1 ½ ounces unsalted butter (about 3 tablespoons)
• 1 ½ ounces all-purpose flour (about 5 tablespoons)
• 3 cups beef stock, hot
• ¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
• ¼ teaspoon Italian seasoning
-Add the butter into a medium-size saucepan, and set over medium-low heat; once the butter is melted, sprinkle the flour into it, and combine/blend with a wooden spoon; cook this “roux” for about a minute or two, to cook out the raw flour taste.
-Next, slowly pour the hot beef stock into the “roux”, whisking all the while to avoid lumps, and allow the gravy to very gently simmer to tighten up a bit, for about 2-3 minutes; turn off the heat.
-Finish the gravy with the black pepper and the Italian seasoning, and check to see if you need any additional salt/pepper; keep warm until ready to use.