When Chef Rusty Holman was creating the menu for the Southern-inspired restaurant Eatonville, his mother brought him some of her old cookbooks from North Carolina. In one called Southern Accent, he came across the recipe for a Cajun mushroom loaf. “Meatloaf is kind of a Southern dish, so I thought it might be a good way to get a vegetarian item on the menu that’s kind of like meat but not meat,” Holman says. He serves the $14 entrée with garlic mashed potatoes and succotash. He glazes the meatloaf with a Cajun-style blend of ketchup, chipotles, and brown sugar. Now it’s nearly as popular as favorites such as fried chicken and fish and grits.
Eatonville’s Mushroom Loaf
Makes 1 loaf
1 stick butter
1 cup diced yellow onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1½ pounds sliced mushrooms (Holman uses a combination of crimini, shiitake, and button mushrooms)
1 cup heavy cream
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning blend
½ cup seasoned bread crumbs
Special Equipment: 1 (9-inch-by-5-inch) loaf pan
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the butter in a 4-quart pot and place it over medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the onion, garlic, and thyme sprigs. Saute the mixture until translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the mushrooms to the pot, stir, and raise the heat a bit. Cook the mixture until the liquid has cooked off, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the mixture from the heat and set aside.
Meanwhile, crack the eggs into a large bowl and whisk well. Add the cream, parsley, and Cajun seasoning and whisk to combine. Add the warm mushroom mixture 1 spoonful at a time to temper the egg mixture, stirring well after each addition. Add the bread crumbs and stir well.
Spray the loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray and line it with parchment paper. Pour the loaf mixture into the pan. Set the loaf pan inside a large roasting pan and fill the larger pan with water halfway up the loaf pan. Set it on the top half of the oven and bake until the center is set, about 60 to 70 minutes. Remove the loaf from the oven and let cool 15 minutes before turning it out onto a plate to slice.