My glorious and retro Citizenry – genuflect in wonder at my necromantic re-animation of a 1950’s dinner staple, which through my mastery of the darkest culinary arts is resurrected from Limbo to stalk an unsuspecting world once again!
Unlike ‘The Tingler’, a classic 1959 camp horror film that had a gimmick of using electric buzzers under the movie seats to scare theater-goers, there is no terror in my recipe – though it will jump-start your tastebuds with its electric flavors! This unique meatloaf recipe also debuted in 1959, so I think the comparison is valid. 🙂
Unlike most recipes from the era that deserve to remain entombed forever in the forgotten annals of gastronomic abominations – like these horrors from beyond the stars – this recipe shocked me for being delicious!
The idea of using a sharp, spicy mustard-flavored meringue instead of heavy mashed potatoes to top the meatloaf is simply genius and I have taken the liberty of updating the recipe from pedestrian to gourmet through my inimitable touch! However, before we dive into the recipe, let us first discuss the storied history of the company who created the recipe in the first place – French’s Mustard!
French’s is an American brand of prepared mustard, condiments, fried onions, and other food items. Created by Robert Timothy French, French’s “Cream Salad Brand” mustard debuted to the world at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair. By 1921, French’s Mustard had adopted its trademark pennant and begun advertising to the general public. French’s is now owned by McCormick & Company.
Brothers Robert and George French bought a flour mill in 1883 in Fairport, New York. It burned down in 1884 and they relocated the flour mill to Rochester, New York. They named their mill the R.T. French Company. Robert French died in 1893 and brother George became company president. George (who developed the creamy yellow mustard) and another brother, Francis, introduced French’s mustard in 1904.
In 1926, French’s was sold to J. & J. Colman of the United Kingdom, a company that produced home care products such as Lysol, Reckitt’s Blue and Brasso, and its own mustard brand, as well as other products such as the Frank’s RedHot condiment line.
In 1986, Reckitt & Colman acquired Durkee Famous Foods; in 1987 and consolidated headquarters in New Jersey. Durkee’s French onions became French’s crispy fried onions. In 1999, Reckitt & Colman merged with Benckiser NV to form Reckitt Benckiser and in 2017, McCormick & Company acquired French’s from Reckitt Benckiser.
For many years, the fictitious “Carol French” was the face of the company. Her name appeared on numerous recipes and cookbooks, the oldest of which may be Dining Delights from 1948.
Until 1987, French’s headquarters was located in Elmira, New York. The headquarters is now located in Chester, New Jersey. During its heyday, French’s was a sponsor of the local weather forecast, featuring its address prominently in television advertising.
They also were a prominent sponsor of the Rochester Red Wings baseball club, often in conjunction with a local brand of hot dogs, Tobin’s First Prize. The former headquarters location at 1 Mustard Street is now home to a variety of professional offices and public agencies.
French’s also had facilities in Shelley, Idaho, for potato products. A plant in Souderton, Pennsylvania, was constructed in 1957 and closed in the 1990s. A plant in Fresno, California, closed in 1994. Manufacturing operations were consolidated in Springfield, Missouri.
Historically R. T. French may have manufactured a complete line of spices and extracts, condiments, pickle products, sauces and gravy mixes, instant potato products, and pet care products, in particular canary and parakeet seeds. As of 2016, in certain markets French’s markets mustards, Worcestershire sauce, a line of mayonnaise-based products, ketchup, barbecue sauce, potato sticks, and fried jalapeños, as well as a line of French’s fried onions.
As the company noted in its own ad copy (yes, like so many recipes from the era, it was created by French’s food scientists to showcase and utilize the company’s products): Friendly Warning: Because French’s Mustard is made with rare spices, specially-grown mustard seeds and finest vinegar, it has a special flavor, texture and color all its own. Don’t expect the best results from this recipe with any other mustard.
There is only one tiny problem associated with this post and recipe – I am honestly not very fond of French’s mustard.
Yes, even I sometimes labor like Sisyphus as I seek to push a recipe uphill to reach the summit of my rarefied tastes. Since TFD always prides Himself on only changing recipes in ways that are true to the spirit of the original, this particular problem seemed nigh insurmountable.
However, after hours of deep meditation, intense thought and haruspexial divination, the answer at last revealed itself to me in a supernova of creative genius! There is a yellow mustard-based condiment that DOES live up to French’s ad hyperbole and possesses the proper gourmet flavor (and the TRUE French provenance craved by TFD).
That luminous yellow savior is called Savora – and it does indeed work PERFECTLY in this recipe! TFD’s unmatched gastronomic wisdom truly knows no bounds, and proper obeisances and ablutions in My honor may now commence. 😉
Of course, there is absolutely nothing stopping you from going old-school with your meatloaf and just using plain old French’s Mustard if that’s how you swing – TFD does not judge His Citizenry on this particular issue (though there are many other scenarios where I *WILL* judge you, so be warned! 😉 ). If the meringue seems less-than-mustardy to you, I also recommend adding in an optional soupçon of dry mustard powder, if that sharp flavor seems absent.
Instead of green bell peppers in the meatloaf, which I find both acrid, bitter and contributing to heartburn, I instead substitute fresh green poblano peppers – which are both tastier and more germane to the flavor profile I’m striving to replicate.
As opposed to pedestrian ground beef, I – of course – call for dry-aged, full-blood Wagyu ground beef, which you can buy from Crowd Cow here. I have always believed that meatloaf needs a certain amount of fat to adhere together properly, which is why I strongly recommend adding in a bit of sweet Italian sausage to the mix as well.
You can, of course, go with regular old ground 90/10 (lean to fat ratio) ground beef plus sausage, or just go with 70/30 ground beef without the sausage if you prefer to stay closer to the original recipe. Now, even with my gourmet palate, I personally would NEVER leave out the fried onions from a can that this recipe calls for – it’s the kitschy soul of the meatloaf and you can buy my preferred version here.
Heinz Ketchup on meatloaf, however, is a travesty – if you are going to use any ketchup in this or any other recipe, this is the only brand I recommend. Period. Here is where you can buy a fantastic cream of tartar that is a necessity for the meringue – don’t skimp on the quality! Instead of just plain salt, I personally like to use Jane’s Krazy Salt, which is seasoned with herbs and spices and works very well in this recipe. Lastly, I added in a bit of minced scallion to the meatloaf – but feel free to omit it if you are so inclined.
The end result is a dish firmly rooted in the 1950’s but updated to modern gourmet standards – swimming up from the antediluvian depths like a coelacanth into the light of today’s modern cookery blog! Try this dish with another classic of the era, twice-baked potatoes but with a TFD-inspired Caesar twist!
Battle on – the Generalissimo
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