Sunday, August 3, 2008

Meatloaf Rediscovered

I grew up insisting that I didn't like meatloaf but that was after trying it just once at the age of six. The memory of rubbery ground beef slathered with ketchup lingered for decades until I finally decided to find a recipe to that would replace it. It is great to have another option with ground beef.

This is another stand by recipe from How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. (pg 495) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Then the first step is to soak 1/2 cup of plain breadcrumbs in 1/2 cup of milk. Since it takes about 5 minutes for the crumbs to soak up the milk, I use that time to gather all my ingredients.

  • 2 pounds of ground meat (I typically use beef)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan/reggiano mix
  • 1/4 cup minced, fresh spinach
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 small carrot finely grated
  • Pinch of dried sage
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Once the breadcrumbs have fully soaked up the milk, I just throw in all of the above ingredients, take off my watch and rings, and use my hands to mix all the ingredients together. Mixing it well and getting a bit of air in there makes the meatloaf light and fluffy.

When the ingredients are mixed, I then place them in an 11x13 baking dish and shape into a loaf in the middle of the pan. Doing this rather than baking it in a loaf pan allows the grease to roll off a bit rather than just cooking in it. Place it in the oven and cook for 45 to 60 minutes, basting it occasionally. When it is done, the meatloaf will be browned and firm to the touch. If you have a meat thermometer, insert it in the middle of the loaf it should read 160 degrees.

While the meatloaf is baking, I set up about 10 small potatoes to boil for mashed potatoes. I prefer new potatoes because you don't have to peel them. I usually give myself about 20 minutes to cook the potatoes and mash them so I don't start them right after putting the meatloaf in the oven. When the potatoes are cooked, I drain most of the water - just leaving a few tablespoons - I add a couple of tablespoons of butter, a couple of tablespoons of milk, a heaping spoonful of yogurt and mash them with a hand masher. The only other addition is boiling some frozen organic green peas.

A tasty meatloaf is comforting and warming meal. The mashed potatoes and peas round it out but options are serving the meatloaf with a nice side salad.

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