Mountain Men ate a lot of meat. The Lewis and Clark Journals talk about eating over 25 lbs. of meat daily. Vegans would have never survived. Most of the meat eaten was broiled or baked on a stick over the fire. Small trimmings were stuffed into intestines to make sausage. They did add wild carrots, onions, tubers, and other edibles to mix up the tastes and flavors.
I wonder if they made meat loafs. Instead of perfectly hand ground meat, they could have cut up trimmings into smaller sizes and made them into a loaf. Eggs were available and oats or breadcrumbs may have been in the pantry. Some spices would have added flavor. They also probably made salmon or fish cakes from boiled or poached fish.
Meat Loaf is a great Hunting Camp meal. It can be prepared ahead of time and heated up fast. The problem with most meatloaf’s is that they fall apart. You end up serving a plate of meat bits and chunks. Some are way too spicy and create upset stomachs hours later. A simple, flavorful, mild, textured meatloaf is the ticket. You want the meatloaf to slice and hold together for leftover sandwiches.
Meatloaf’s bake well in a campfire Dutch Oven. It just takes time to bake and manage the fire. That’s why it is good to bake them ahead of time and freeze them until needed. A good ice chest will hold a frozen meat loaf for over a week if needed. Once the loaf is thawed, you just need to heat it up. You can warm it in a Dutch Oven, Foil Pack over the coals, of slice it and fry it up.
Here is my perfect Hunting Camp meat loaf recipe
3 lbs. of grind
½ cup of diced onions
3 eggs whisked
1 ½ cups of shredded carrots. They add texture and hold the loaf together.
1 ½ cups of raw oats. A heart healthy substitute for breadcrumbs. They also hold the loaf together.
Salt and pepper/ spice blend such as Montreal Steak seasoning or Old Bay
Some Worcestershire Sauce, or hot sauce, if you have it.
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and form into a loaf. You can place the meat into a loaf pan or simply make a mound that will fit into a Dutch Oven. I wrap the loaf in foil and place it into the Dutch oven, especially if I am just heating it up. You do not want the loaf to burn. If you can place the loaf into a pan that fits the oven, place some small rocks on the bottom to elevate the pan and meatloaf a little. This will allow the 350-degree heat to better circulate. For a heat up, you may need only 30 minutes. For a bake to finish loaf, you need and hour or more.
I have also made my loafs in Cup Cake pans, or foil pot pie pans. These take less time to cook and become a more personal serving size. Use what fits into your oven.
A great and hearty meatloaf also needs a topping.
You can just coat the top with some ketchup and brown sugar on top and let it melt. Another great gravy is to use thick Potato soup, or a simple white, or brown gravy. Bacon bits are also a nice add on. The potato soup allows the side of tates to be on top.
Rarely will hungry hunters leave leftovers. If you do have some extra loaf, make tomorrow’s lunch sandwiches from it.
Meat loaf rules!