Monday, September 13, 2010

A Vegetarian's Nightmare

Last week was really meaty.  I made both meat loaf and meatballs, and it was comfort food galore around here.  Before my arteries clog up and I keel over, I thought I would share with you what I learned from this cholesterol-packed experience.  

First, I love both foods, so it has not been difficult to do some experimenting over the years.  The main thing I discovered is both dishes are more flavorful if you use a combination of ground beef, veal and pork.  If you don't already buy it, you'll see the packs of "meat loaf mix" at your butcher's counter.  I never used it until recently.  BJ's Wholesale Club has a good one.  Last week, however, I purchased each ground meat individually.

For the meat loaf, I saute the vegetables before mixing them in with the meat.  I think this adds moisture.   The main reason I did this was Hubmeister's and Son's revulsion to onions.  If they crunch into any onion, I'll be eating the whole loaf by myself.    If it were only me, I'd also saute some green pepper, but they won't go for that.  I only can get away with the sauteed onions.  I also saw a meat loaf master on  "Throwdown" swear by cooking the vegetables first to keep the loaf moist. 

After trying numerous recipes, I keep returning to one I saw in a church cookbook.  I like using oats rather than bread crumbs and the top glaze adds just enough sweet flavor contrast to the meat without being ketchup-y.   This loaf has a nice consistency; the meat doesn't crumble because it's too dry and the loaf isn't mushy because it's too wet.  This one is just right.  The whole persnickety family approves, and the sandwiches made from leftovers are a treat.  My favorite is to slap a fat slice on white bread with mayonnaise, fresh basil leaves and sliced onion.

These leftovers aren't going to waste.

My Famous Meat Loaf
(Based on Karen Flynn's "Famous" recipe in St. Anthony's Family Cookbook,  Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.)

1 1/2 to 2 pounds beef, pork and veal
1 C regular oats
1 C milk
1 egg
1/2 C finely chopped onion
1/2 C green or red pepper (optional)
1 T. ketchup
1 T. molasses
salt and pepper

  1. Saute onion and green/red pepper until soft. 
  2. In a large bowl, combine meats, oats, milk, egg, sauteed onions (and peppers), salt and pepper.
  3. Form into a loaf and place in a loaf pan sprayed with cooking spray or on a piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet.  I have a Martha Stewart meat loaf pan with an insert that allows the fat to drain under the loaf while it cooks.  That way you get the loaf shape but it isn't sitting in fat. 
  4. In a small bowl, combine the ketchup and molasses.  Spread over loaf.  Bake 1 to 1 1/2 hours at 350 degrees, or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.
Here's a tip from Ina Garten:  Put a pan of hot water in your oven while the meat loaf cooks to keep the meat from drying out.  I haven't done this, but by weird coincidence, the Barefoot Contessa is demonstrating how to cook meat loaf while I write this post.  I'll have to try her recipe, but she just dumped a ton of ketchup on top of hers - uh-oh.  Maybe not.

I'll post the meatball results tomorrow, and that happens to be Ina's fabulous recipe.

1 comment:

  1. Served this to company and it was a big hit. Meat loaf was nice and moist. Since I'd used lean ground beef and reduced fat ground pork (couldn't find any ground veal), the Ina Garten hint was a good one. The meat loaf cut well and didn't crumble. I added steak seasoning and some sauteed garlic to the meat loaf mixture and next time I'd add even more. I'd also increase the amount of molasses and ketchup. The final product made a lovely presentation on the serving platter. I'll make this again.