Meat Loaf – Finalmente!

Meatloaf sliced

Here it is, the very much delayed meatloaf recipe. Taa-daa!

My love affair with meatloaf goes back more decades than I care to say. I was a boy and didn’t think much about this dish, wondering why we weren’t having hamburgers instead. Then I tasted Zia’s meatloaf. She and Mom were great cooks but Zia’s meatloaf was heaven-sent. I was perennially trying to steal away from our dinner table so that I could have a taste of her meatloaf when she was serving it. Mom caught on quickly enough but rather than get annoyed, she tried to make a better meatloaf. Although hers did, in fact, improve, Zia’s remained the best in my book.

Now move ahead many years. Zia and I have decided to create this blog and we’re making a preliminary list of recipes to include for our family. Well, very early in the process, I added her meatloaf to the list. You can imagine my horror when she confessed that she no longer had the recipe nor could she remember it. All she knew was that she added oats (see above) and nothing else. At that point, I resigned myself to eating mediocre meatloaf for the rest of my days. And let me tell you. I was responsible for many a mediocre meatloaf in those days. (It also drove home the point that these recipes needed to be put to paper and preserved.)

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meatloaf-4

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About 2 years later, I came upon a post by my now good blogging friend, Tanya. (You may know her as Chica Andaluza. If you don’t, get over to her site for some tasty dishes and to learn of life on her beautiful Mountain in Spain.) She’d shared a recipe for ketchup, and, once I made it, I was instantly converted. I no longer buy ketchup and use this homemade version exclusively. It’s also a permanent member of my Christmas gift baskets, the recipients of which — friends and family —  cannot get enough.

At some point — I don’t remember exactly when — I was preparing what would become another mediocre meatloaf when I experienced a true epiphany. Why not use the homemade ketchup? It was a life changing moment … well, meatloaf changing. My meatloaf reached a new level of excellence and, best of all, consistency. No need to worry about which and how much spice to use. The ketchup had everything I would have added. Best of all, during her last visit here, I prepared a meatloaf dinner for Zia and she declared that mine reminded her of her long forgotten recipe. She could not have pleased me more. That’s the day I decided to share the recipe — it’s also the last time I served sliced meatloaf for dinner.

You see, I’m a mid-western boy and we love our meat and gravy sandwiches. It was a special treat on a cold winter’s evening when Mom placed before me a plate containing a meat sandwich and mashed potatoes smothered in gravy. Oh, boy! Over the years, even when serving a mediocre loaf, I dreamt of the next day’s smothered sandwich. Once that craving was satisfied, there would be meatloaf sammiches. These would be gravy-free but would instead contain lettuce, a slice of tomato, and a bit of horseradish sauce. I mentioned it to Zia and learnt that she, too, loved both sandwich and sammich. I’ve not served sliced meatloaf since. Make note of this post’s opening photo. It is the last of its kind in my home.

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This is a very easy recipe to follow but it does result in plenty of meatloaf. I usually fill 2 small foil loaf pans first, and then use the rest of the meat mixture to create a larger loaf. I rarely place this loaf in a pan, preferring to create a free-form loaf by hand. The smaller loaves will eventually find a home in the freezer and, I must say, I get a certain amount of satisfaction knowing that I’ve got a meatloaf in the freezer. I feel the same about its neighbor in there, the tray of lasagna. This brings up another issue …and an invite. If ever you hear of a major power outage lasting for days/weeks in Chicago, rent a car, catch a train, hop a bus, take a flight, pirate a ship, or do whatever you need to get here. My guests and I will be eating mighty fine for the duration — or at least until everything melts.

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meatloaf-duo

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Meatloaf Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 – 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1.5 lb (680 g) ground beef (See Notes)
  • 1.5 lb (680 g) ground pork
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 celery stalk, leaves included
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1 cup oats (I use good old Quaker Oats for “Nothing is better for thee…”)
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 cup homemade ketchup, divided (See déjà vu)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350˚ F (175˚ C)
  2. Chop the carrot, celery, and onion to equal size.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over med-high heat. Add the chopped vegetables and cook until soft – about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic midway through.
  4. Set aside to cool until safe to handle.
  5. In a large mixing bowl, add the meats, eggs, oats, sautéed vegetables, and 2/3 of the ketchup. Mix to combine but do not over-mix.  (See Notes)
  6. Use part of the meat mixture to fill 1 or 2 small loaf pan(s). The rest will be used to fill a large loaf pan or to create a free-form loaf on a foil-covered baking pan.
  7. Use the remaining 1/3 of the ketchup to lightly coat the tops of the loaves.
  8. Place the loaves in the pre-heated oven.
  9. Bake for 60 to 75 minutes. Each loaf is cooked when its internal temperature reaches 160˚ F (70˚ C).
  10. Once cooked:
    • For the larger loaf:
      • If using a loaf pan, allow to rest 10 minutes, drain the liquids from the pan, removing the meatloaf and placing on a serving platter.
      • If not using a loaf pan, allow to rest 10 minutes and place on a serving platter.
      • Serve immediately.
    • For the smaller loaves:
      • Set aside to fully cool. Completely cover with plastic wrap before tightly wrapping in aluminum foil. It can now be frozen for up to 6 months. When ready to serve, unwrap the plastic wrap, replace the foil, and thaw in the fridge overnight. Once thawed, place in a pre-heated 300˚ F (150˚ C) and cook until heated through. (See Notes)
  11. If you’re like me, forego the platter and use the liquids to prepare a gravy with cornstarch, a cup of beef stock or low sodium bouillon, and a little milk  (optional). Meanwhile, create a sandwich using 2 slices of bread  and a generous slice of meatloaf. On the same dish, serve some mashed potatoes with a well in the center. Use the hot gravy to smother the sandwich and fill the mashed potato well. Buon appetito!

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meatloaf-3

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Notes

At one time, I used equal amounts of ground veal, beef, and pork to make meatloaf. I prefer not to use veal these days unless I can be sure it’s been humanely raised.

If you do not have — or do not want to use — oats, an equal amount of bread crumbs may be substituted.

Overworking the meat mixture will result in a meatloaf that’s too dense. Mix until al of the ingredients are combined but no more than that.

You needn’t thaw the meatloaf before re-heating but I find the results much more reliable. I never seem to get the timing right and dinner is just about always delayed when I stick a frozen meatloaf into the oven. Remember: it’s already been fully cooked so there’s no worry of serving raw meat — just really cold.

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It’s déjà vu all over again …

ketchup-throwback-photo

As I mentioned, the secret to this meatloaf is the ketchup, although the recipe I shared is about as close to the ketchup we all knew as kids as is salsa. Thanks to a recipe derived from one posted by the Kitchens’ good friend, Tanya, the one and only Chica Andaluza, the flavor of my meatloaf has improved greatly. The fact is that I always have a few jars in reserve and am lost without it. (Sorry, Heinz.) You can see my recipe HERE.

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Coming soon to a monitor near you …

Soft Shell Crab Curry Preview

Curried Soft Shell Crab

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54 thoughts on “Meat Loaf – Finalmente!

  1. I hang my head in shame… I have NEVER made a meatloaf before – I know, the horror! That is going to change ASAP! First to making our friend Tanya’s ketchup and then onto your meatloaf. Double win. Fabulous!
    Have a beautiful weekend John. Snuggles to my favourite boy Max.
    🙂 Mandy xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah, thanks for all your lovely words. And thank you for a fantastic recipe. It makes me smile to think of Zia having eaten it and that your meatloaf reminded her of the old, recipe. In our households we were more polpette makers and eaters, but I remember that although my mum, my godmother, and my God mother’s mum all claimed to make them the same way, they all tasted different! I am now going to make a few meatloaf for the freezer but will be sure to head your way if ever there’s a power outage 😀

    Liked by 2 people

    • Tanya – reading your and John’s comments and teachings on side: methinks you two so displayed what the good side of social media is all about . . . what we can learn, what we can enjoy one from the other. Warmly and gently funny: zia Lea has not ‘gone away’, has she . . . . be well . . .

      Liked by 3 people

  3. I share your love of meatloaf. I make one a week this time of year, but I always make a slight variation on the theme each time. I saute my vegetables and I used to used Italian break soaked in milk, lately I’ve been using ground saltine crackers and I really like the results.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Mmmmmm. Delicious! I confess I love a
    cold slice of meatloaf sandwich. Hold the gravy!
    Life does have a way of interrupting, doesn’t it?
    Will have to try Tanya’s ketchup recipe.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I always am seeking a good meatloaf recipe and, even though I am not from the Midwest, I do love a good hot meatloaf sandwich with gravy! Hope all is well – your eggplant Lasagne recipe will be posting in C&L a week from tomorrow!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It’s a difficult choice to say which is more sought after for us Midwesterners — the meatloaf itself or the next day sandwiches (mashed potatoes alongside a must). The good thing is, every time we make another batch the debate has delicious, comforting rewards. 🙂
    Gotta try that ketchup!

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  7. Meatloaf sandwiches are the best! I really like the idea of the oats — I should try that. I’m not a good meatloaf cook. My mom’s was never very good (although she did use lots of ketchup in hers) — mainly because she overcooked it and it was dry (she liked it VERY well-done). Actually some of the best meatloaf I’ve had were cooked my friends’ mothers who did an Italian style, basically cooked in tomato sauce (basically treating meatloaf like a big meat ball). Anyway, yours looks excellent. Perfect for sandwiches! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Wonderful! I love a good meatloaf. Getting my British husband to eat it is sometimes a bit tricky. It is such a quintessential American food, one we grew up with and either loved or loathed. He’s just not used to it. However, he does enjoy those cold meatloaf sandwiches the day after. Stick with the oats – they add something special.

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  9. That meatloaf looks so good and the recipe for ketchup is so good! Not surprised that it’s Tanya’s. I need to make that asap. My grandma makes a really great meatloaf. Unless it’s hers I find it difficult to eat. This recipe looks close! Lovely that this was one of your original recipes in mind when you started the blog.

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  10. I LOVE meatloaf, just love it! So today I am making YOUR meatloaf for our lunch! I can hardly wait. No….wait! I need to make the ketchup first. I have given up store bought ketchup as it is mostly sugar, or some kind of sweetener. So I thank you for the tip on the ketchup also. Ketchup first then this lovely yummy meatloaf.

    I’m glad you are feeling better!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. My mother’s meatloaf was very similar. All beef, no carrot or celery, occasionally a couple slices of bread soaked in milk instead of oatmeal and about half a jar of Homade Chili Sauce which she swore tasted just like her mother’s chili sauce (still available in stores). The next day my father would slice the cold meatloaf into quarter inch think slices, butter both sides of sliced bread with the meatloaf slices inside and grill the sandwich till the exterior was crispy. I think those grilled sandwiches were probably better than the meatloaf the day before. Sometimes I will add some sweet pickle relish to the mix or make a sweet pickle sauce for the meatloaf (or short ribs or tenderloin of pork).

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  12. I know it will shock and disgust you to learn that I have never been a fan of meatloaf (I know!). Perhaps because my own dear Mom’s version was dry and it always had a hard boiled egg in the middle of it (and boy did it get rubbery after being cooked once and then baked!). But I do love the gravy smothered sammiches that you are so fond of. We used get them on the way home from the cottage at some ma and pa diner usually with peas on the side, like yours. Mine was usually chicken but boy was it good. It’s the absolutely ONLY way I eat that horrible sandwich bread. I’m going to check out your ketchup recipe, I’m finding the store bought ketchup has more and more sugar flavour rather than tomato flavour. I shall also check out Chica Andalz!a

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  13. I haven’t had meatloaf since I left America (which is some time ago now), but I do remember it fondly, so perhaps it’s time I made my own. It looks like I’ll need to make Tanya’s ketchup first though.
    I’m waiting with baited breath for your Curried Soft Shell Crab recipe… 🙂

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  14. I ADORE meatloaf, and must, absolutely MUST make your version, ketchup included

    come to think of it, making ketchup from scratch has been on my list of culinary projects for years!

    great post!

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  15. WELL! Waiting for your meatloaf recipes seems to be well worth it! I love me a good meatloaf. This looks fabulous, and I’ll have to check out your ketchup recipe. My mom’s meatloaf always used bottled ketchup over the top of it and I KNEW there had to be something better than that! Enjoy your lifelong meatloaf sammiches smothered with gravy!

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  16. Ok John I need an explanation. What’s the difference between a sandwich and a sammitch. I’ve never been a big meatloaf fan except thinly sliced, in a sandwich with hot mustard and lettuce. I should give it another try…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello, Sandra. I looked up “sammich” in the Urban Dictionary. The definition is as good as I would use:

      A sammich is not just a sandwich, it is not just a meal. Sammich is a term reserved for only the holiest and mightiest of all sandwiches. A sammich is a true work of culinary art; a feast on a bun, if you will. A sammich is not made of the best ingredients; it is made of the *right* ingredients. It needs the right meats, and the right cheese(s), the right sauce, the right veggies, and the right kind of bread.

      I believe that the British term “sammie” is derived from sammich. It really doesn’t matter. Just so long as I find one on my plate occasionally, you can call it “Herbie” for all I care. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  17. [Hope this one > over the Pond! Two previous ‘trials’!!!!] Finalmente indeed! That fishing trip seemed to take forever 🙂 ! Meatloaf is almost a national dish in my childhood Estonia: since I try to avoid salt, fat and chemical ridden deli items it is so delightful in salads, on open sandwiches and in rollups! Wish I could find my genie to come beg for a jar of your tomato sauce . . . otherwise this is down to be made tomorrow! Well, I have not used celery but always include grated beetroot, know of the beauty of oats but usually have Jewish matzo meal handy and was taught by both darling husbands to add spritzy soda water to add extra moisture. *smile*: must really find time to look for a photo of 3-year-old me standing in our kitchen with a big white pinny on and face and hair all covered with crumbs and other ingredients, handforming the loaves . . . my very favourite remembrance from a complicated time . . .

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  18. Oh boy this does look good, John. My mother’s meatloaf recipe is our family standby and is frequently requested. Instead of the oats she adds cornbread stuffing, and the ketchup is tomato sauce with molasses. All other ingredients are really the same and it’s interesting how much just a few tweaks can change the outcome and make it personal to a family’s memory of comfort foods. And I definitely agree about the sandwiches! I really will try this recipe at least to include the homemade ketchup. I am intrigued. I need to follow your example and stock the freezer. too! Hope you have a good weekend, John. I hear it’s pretty cold in your neck of the woods!

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  19. I am a meatloaf lover too. It would be interesting to know in which countries it is regarded as a sort of “national treasure”: it is very popular in Italy, America, Germany (I think)… what about France, Spain, the Scandinavian countries? In Italy it even appears in what is considered one of THE books about Italian cooking, Artusi’ Arte di Manigar bene (end of 19th century), made with leftover meat; these days it is generally made with assorted fresh meats (beef, pork, veal) + some bread soaked in milk to keep it moist (sometimes eggs too)….I think it is always a winner and whenever I prepare it for English friends they are always SOOOO surprised how good it is;Italians just smile beamingly, as if saying: “…of course, didn’t u know? it’s heaven…”
    I think I prefer it after it has rested some time, never hot. Hazan has a good version, albeit a little tricky to look after (it is cooked on the stove and it needs careful handling)/my mum always made in the oven, without much fuss. When I had my restaurant we used to make mini-polpettoni (mini meat loaves): watch one was wrapped in parchment paper, from raw, and roasted at low temperature to keep it moist. when cold and at service time, we would brown it in butter and oil… one of the most successful dishes ever…
    nice story John (and thanks also for the ketchup’s tip and recipe) stefano

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    • Interesting question! Well, I can assuredly say ‘yes’ for ALL of Scandinavia and the Baltics . . . . in my birth country of Estonia it was kind’of a weekly offering. Quite simply made, with no garlic or tomato and few herbs, it did have to have ‘the three’: beef, pork and milk veal mince in thirds. The same mixture, more or less, was made into ‘kotletid’: meat patties, quick-fried and then set in the oven for a matter of minutes . . . . as a child I loved to form those as one had to make quite high, oval, even patties and then use a blunt knife to make a cross-diagonal pattern on top to create appetite 🙂 ! Fun memories . . . and I do remember them all in Germany and Austria also . . . .

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  20. Really good to know about this ketchup recipe. I love home-made versions, and to me they’ve all been good. Can’t wait to try this one. Not a huge meat loaf fan, but I do make them for my husband – especially if I have to leave town. He’s very capable of reheating meat loaf for dinners, especially if I slice it first.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I laughed when you recounted your childhood memory: why have meatloaf when you can have hamburgers instead? As a kid, that’s exactly what I thought…except when it came to my grandmother’s meatloaf. It was heavenly, and even better the next day in a sandwich as, I’ll bet, yours is too.

    Thanks for the tip re: over-mixing the meat. I think that’s where I could pick up my game a little.

    You’ve given me a great idea for a “kitchen party”. Since the homemade ketchup is needed for the meatloaf, I’ll put out an invite for a ketchup-and-meatloaf-making party, where everyone pitches in, then takes home the proceeds. It’ll be fun!

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  22. Those childhood memories are the best, John. Quaker Oats instead of breadcrumbs, sounds like it deserves a go. Not sure I have the time for home made ketchup, store bought will have to do. Thanks for the recipe.

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  23. I’ve been yearning to make meatloaf – now I have a recipe to start with! Thanks for sharing! I remember my grandma’s and sadly do not have her recipe, but I remember she too used oats in her recipe. I just wish I knew what else she used?

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  24. There is nothing as cozy as meatloaf and homemade ketchup. Winner! A side of mash potatoes….I will be right over. Your in Chicago, right? Did you see the green river for St. Patty’s day?

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  25. My mother use to make meatloaf and gravy so just so she can make meatloaf sandwiches. 🙂 You meatloaf looks awesome. I’ve never seen oatmeal in a meatloaf recipe. What a great idea!

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  26. John, good to have a new post. And a classic dish selection at that. I think meatloaf has experienced a diminished reputation over the years – maybe it’s as simple as the name itself? Maybe as simple as some people didn’t give it their all when preparing it? When done correctly it is one of the best comfort food dishes around. Like it with mac and cheese. That being said after a meal like that I need to work it off somehow…or it will leave a lasting impression. 🙂

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  27. Oh John😱 your meatloaf gets my husband crazy😋he likes meat more than me, but your recipe it seems so good and attracts my curiosity to taste… I could try to cook it, but I’ m SURE that it will never be like yours😢
    Thanks John for sharing your fantastic meatloaf🌻Hug you🌞

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  28. anche io arrivo in ritardo per fare le lodi a questa magnifica ricetta che in Toscana ha perlomeno una versione ogni provincia! allcune di queste assomigliano alla tua ricetta, altre sono varie, chi lo mette in forno dopo averlo preparato, chi prima lo frigge…ma sono tutte ugualmente succulente e sostanzione, concordo con il tuo dire che uno dei segreti è un orrimo sugo, ed anche il tuo imìnnamoramento per questa ricetta così comune da noi, e molto, molto cucinata
    ti auguro un felice giorno amico John
    Annalisa

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  29. Wow! That meatloaf looks out of this world. I have to confess that I don’t normally get excited about meatloaf, but I am excited about this one. I’ll bet the leftover meatloaf sandwich is incredible.

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  30. OMG, John, this looks AMAZING!! I cannot wait to try this. I am a diehard meatloaf fan…have lived through a couple cultures and continents of it. The southern variety. And now the Italian…but my favorite recipe I in that old magazine FINE COOKING…which asked you to precook the onions. But I have to say, the idea of oats and carrots AND celery in a meatloaf makes me water at the mouth. And that ketchup, yes! I am going to make that. I have a hard time putting my hands on good ketchup here in Italy. Heinz is okay, but the others aren’t. And I love the idea of making instead of buying. So, thank you thank you! I better get cookin’. (Love the stories of your childhood.)

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  31. That meatloaf … I know what I’m making for dinner tonight! Unfortunately, I don’t have your homemade ketchup, but I will plan to make a quantity of that when tomatoes are in season. And, OMG, is there anything better than a meatloaf sandwich? We only make meatloaf for the leftovers, right?

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  32. I knew immediately that your title meant ‘finally’ because the word is exactly the same in French! As always – fabulous post! You’re posts are ALWAYS like a lovely visit with a good friend.
    Me – I have been posting for a bit now because, first, I had to get my house ready for sale, then had to deal with all the ‘shenanigans’ the buyers and their not-so-nice agent put me through – and now I have to ‘be outta here’ by May 5th.
    I just spent a week in Florida visiting people and visiting new towns to see if I might want to live there. Right now I’m thinking I might ‘land’ in St. Augustine. In the meantime, I’m sooo lucky that someone has offered me their condo in Naples.. where I can, in theory stay, until the ‘rental season’ returns. And there’s always our Pocono house!
    And now you know what’s going on in my life right now!! Sending you lots of cyber hugs my friend. ; o )
    (Of course, again ‘as always’ – your recipe for meatloaf, based on your beloved Zia’s recipe – looks delicious!!)

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  33. I love idea of your sammich John. It has been decades since I last ate meatloaf – this was not a dish I grew up on. It is interesting that you combine different kinds of meat.

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