The Chef: Edward Lee
His Restaurants: 610 Magnolia and MilkWood in Louisville, Ky., Succotash in National Harbor, Md., and Succotash DC in Washington, D.C.
What He’s Known For: Highly personal takes on Southern dishes, often referencing the Korean cooking he grew up on.
BROOKLYN-BORN CHEF Edward Lee found his footing, professionally and creatively, in Louisville, Ky.—not to mention his home, his wife and his love of bourbon. Mr. Lee’s first Slow Food Fast recipe, a bourbon-infused meatloaf on a bed of mashed potatoes, reveals both his deep respect for American comfort-food classics and his notable talent for making them his own.
Years ago, a client asked the chef to come up with a meatloaf for a corporate event. “This had to be great, and I’d never actually made meatloaf before,” he said. “I’m a Korean kid from New York!” So he turned to his then girlfriend, now wife, Dianne Lee, for help. “She’s pure German stock. Her family grew up on meatloaf.”
The iteration Mr. Lee finally hit upon combines traditional elements from his wife’s family recipe—ground beef, egg, bread crumbs, bacon—with flavor-boosting flourishes such as soy sauce and bourbon. Topped with a tangy ketchup and brown-sugar glaze, this meatloaf is a little sweet, quite savory, remarkably juicy and a touch smoky, too, thanks to the bourbon. The potatoes, meanwhile, are roasted, not boiled, for a deeper flavor, then mashed, skins and all, with butter and cream.
Crucially, Mr. Lee dispenses with the loaf pan and forms his meatloaf by hand, on a sheet pan. “Because it’s thinner it’s fast-cooking, so moisture stays in,” he said. “Most meatloaf recipes call for over an hour of cooking. You wouldn’t cook a hamburger like that. Why do it to a meatloaf?” You never will again, once you’ve tried this version.
Total Time: 35 minutes Serves: 4
- 12 small potatoes such as new potatoes
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 7 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup finely chopped onions
- ¼ cup finely chopped celery
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 3 ounces bacon, cut into ¼-inch dice
- 1 cup diced mushrooms
- 1 pound ground chuck beef, 80% lean
- ½ cup bread crumbs
- 1 egg yolk
- ½ cup ketchup
- 1½ tablespoons bourbon
- 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- ½ tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss potatoes with salt on a baking sheet and roast until easily pierced with a knife, about 25 minutes.
2. Make meatloaf: Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet set over medium heat. Add onions, celery and garlic. Sauté until onions are translucent, about 3 minutes. Stir in bacon and mushrooms, and sauté until bacon lightly browns, about 4 minutes.
3. Transfer onion mixture to a large bowl and let cool slightly. Add ground beef, bread crumbs, egg yolk, ¼ cup ketchup, bourbon and Worcestershire sauce. Season generously with salt and pepper. With clean hands, mix everything together until ingredients are evenly distributed.
4. Transfer meat mixture to a rimmed baking sheet and pat it into a loaf about 2½ inches in diameter. Place meatloaf on center rack of oven to bake.
5. Meanwhile, prepare glaze: In a small bowl, mix remaining ¼ cup ketchup with soy sauce and brown sugar until well combined. After meatloaf has baked about 6 minutes, remove it from oven and brush glaze over top. Return pan to oven and bake until meat is just cooked through, or internal temperature reads 145-150 degrees on a meat thermometer, about 20 minutes more. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
6. Prepare potatoes: In a medium bowl, coarsely smash roasted potatoes, skins on, with remaining 6 tablespoons butter. Season with salt and cream, if using. Thickly slice meatloaf and serve on top of or alongside mashed potatoes.
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