Are you over the commercialism and pressure of the holiday season? How about Festivus for the rest of us?! Festivus is a parody holiday celebrated on December 23rd as an alternative to the highly stressful and commercialized Christmas. Festivus was made famous by the Seinfeld episode “The Strike” (Season 9, Episode 10) and was reportedly invented by the father of a Seinfeld scriptwriter. The holiday includes practices such as the “Airing of Grievances” (each person lashes out at others about how they have been disappointed in the past year) and “Feats of Strength” (the head of household challenges someone to a wrestling match, with Festivus continuing until someone defeats the head of household).
Festivus is also all about simplicity. The only decoration is an unadorned aluminum pole or one created out of empty beer cans. According to the show, dinner consists of what is widely assumed to be meatloaf on a bed of lettuce. I, myself, could use a break from all the complicated, rich holiday food, so why not take a moment to bring it down a notch in the kitchen?
If you’ve never made it, meatloaf at its base is simply ground meat mixed with other ingredients and shaped into a loaf. It may sound like a 1970s monstrosity, but it has European origins in addition to Middle Eastern and Latin American variations. Negative associations with meatloaf may include dryness and extreme density. However, with the right ingredients and a light touch, you can have a juicy slice that matches well with mashed potatoes or rice. Just remember to keep it simple, and use Festivus to take a break from the holiday chaos.
1T olive oil
2 large yellow onions
1 garlic clove, minced
1/3 cup parsley
3T Worcestershire sauce
1.5 T Dijon mustard
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground pepper
1/3 cup chicken stock
1T tomato paste
2.5 lbs. of ground “meatloaf meat”*
½ panko bread crumbs
2 large eggs, beaten
½ cup ketchup
4 tsp cider vinegar
¼ cup brown sugar
*Note: Meatloaf meat is equal parts ground pork, veal (I know…), and beef. 70-77% lean ground beef is usually ideal because more fat means more flavor and juiciness; however, if you want to cut some fat, you can afford to go leaner as the veal is providing a lot of the extra fat. Adjust ratio to suit your conscience
- Preheat oven to 325F.
- Heat olive oil in medium saute pan. Add onions and salt. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally for 8-10 minutes until onions are translucent. Add the garlic in the last 1-2 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and add Worcestershire sauce, Dijon mustard, black pepper, chicken stock and tomato paste.
- In a large bowl, combine ground meats, onion mixture, bread crumbs, parsley, and eggs. Mix lightly with a fork but don’t mash the meat.
- In another bowl, mix the ketchup, cider vinegar, and brown sugar.
- Oil or place parchment paper on a sheet pan and shape the mixture into a rectangular loaf on the pan.
- Spread the ketchup sauce on top.
- Place the loaf in the oven with a pan of hot water on another level (this will keep the loaf moist and prevent it from cracking while baking). Bake for 1 to 1.25 hours until the internal temperature is 160F and the meat loaf is cooked through. Serve hot.