Sunday, January 3rd, 2016
Meatloaf, a giant meatball pressed into a loaf and baked. It is the first comfort food I can remember (wait, peanut butter and jelly is the first comfort food I can remember)
Meatloaf is made with… well, meat. Although there were over 14,000 recipe results on the worldwide web for vegetarian meatloaf. Really? If there is no meat or meat byproducts mixed with vegetables the word “meat” should not appear in the name. It is a vegetable loaf.
A popular staple in the South where grits are considered a vegetable, and meat and two diners are everywhere, you’ll always find meatloaf on the line usually with a simple ketchup glaze
Before the internet people would make meatloaf the way their mothers made it. My mother use to put hardboiled eggs inside. When I was really young, I thought that was so amazing! How did the eggs get inside the meat?
As a member of Southeast Sustainable Livestock Coalition the sausage and beef I’m using are pasture raised from local Georgia farms. The beef I was using was incredibly lean, so I decided to had some hickory smoked bacon, also from a local Farm.
TIP: Putting the bacon in the freezer for about 45 minutes before dicing makes it a lot easier to work with.
The meatloaf I’m making today is going to include a Mirepoix (meer-pwah) which is finely chopped onion, carrot and celery and I’m adding garlic because garlic is good. The mirepoix adds texture, color, flavor and gives the illusion that there are vegetable involved. I sometimes add ½ a red bell pepper to the mirepoix, this adds another layer of color to the loaf.
Resist the urge to put too much mirepoix into loaf or to use vegetable pieces that are not very finely chopped, as the meatloaf will break apart when cutting. I put all the vegetables in a food processor and pulse until I get the right consistency.I used:
1 medium onion
2 celery stalks and
4 cloves of garlic
1/2 red bell pepper (optional)
Sweat the veggies together in a couple TBLs of butter. This removes some of the moisture and blends their flavors together. The water evaporates the tasty fat stays behind. The cooking also softens the vegetables again to help with slicing. I’ll often add my salt and pepper to the cooking veggies to dissolve the salt. Let the veggies cool for about 15 minutes before adding to the meat mixture. The cooking and cooling process here gives you time to assemble the glaze.
In a medium sauce pan combine
1-1/4 cup of fruit jam like apricot or cherry. I used a mango fruit spread.
Avoid preserves with chunks in it.
1/4 cup plus a little more (2 TBLs) dark brown sugar
2/3 cup of bourbon
2/3 cup of your favorite ketchup based BBQ sauce
1/4 cup of water
1 to 2 Tablespoons of hot sauce or Sriracha to your heat index
Stir everything together and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the sauce has thickened to your liking.
These proportions are on the high side to glaze one meatloaf. But I pour a little of the sauce on the sliced meatloaf when serving and people keep asking for more of the glaze. So this recipe gives you extra.
Preheat the oven to 350 and assemble the meatloaf
1 pound of ground beef
1 pound of breakfast sausage
4 ounces of chopped bacon
2 tsp salt
Fresh ground black pepper
1 cup (or less) breadcrumbs
¾ cup of milk if you’re soaking the crumbs
** See the note below on soaking
1 TBL hot sauce (more it you like a spicy sauce)
Break up the beef and sausage and add the chopped bacon. Add the cooled down mirepoix, salt and pepper. Add two eggs along with 1 cup bread crumbs or panko that have been soaked in 3/4 cups milk.
Mix all ingredients together without crushing the mixture. You want to incorporate everything without over working it. The more you work it the tougher the meat will become.
TIP: Make a little patty from the meat mixture and fry it up to see how your meatloaf is going to taste. Adjust seasoning if necessary.
Turn the mixture out onto a lined baking sheet. And form a loaf. Make it the same height and width throughout so the loaf cooks evenly. If you want a more perfect shaped load you can first put the mixture in a loaf pan then turn it out onto the baking sheet. Look at the beautiful colors in this loaf.
Spread a layer of glaze over the meatloaf and bake for about 30 minutes. Pull the loaf out and add another coat of glaze. Return to the oven and cook another 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and take a temperature reading. You don’t want to over cook the loaf. Internal temperature should be 160 to 165 degrees. Anything above this and you run the risk drying out your meatloaf. The thicker your meatloaf is the longer it will take to cook.
Let the meatloaf rest for about 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
It’s getting real close to New Year’s so I’m serving the meatloaf with greens, black-eyed peas and some cornbread. This is a Southern tradition and each food is symbolic. I’ve heard old Southerners say, “Peas for pennies, greens for dollars, and cornbread for gold.” There is usually Pork in the pot but pork is not a symbol, it’s a necessity.
One of the best things about meatloaf is making meatloaf sandwiches for the next couple of days. A little mayo, sliced bread and butter pickles with lettuce and tomato.
** BREADCRUMBS AND SOAKING:
Bread crumb act as a filler and binder and can enhance the taste if you’re using flavored breadcrumbs. A lot of Southern recipes you see include soaking slices of white bread in milk. I’ll add at this point my grandmother would scoop out the insides from a loaf of Italian bread and soak it. To soak or not to soak. Soaking bread or bread crumbs help keep the loaf moist. The vegetables in the mirepoix also help keep the loaf moist. TIP: If you soak the bread crumbs it will be harder to mix into the meat as it is all clumped together. So it is best to combine all ingredients except the meat and mix together thoroughly. This allows you to combine all ingredients without over working the meat.
If you are using store-bought bread crumbs or grinding up croutons, you are not going to get a soft texture when soaking. The preservatives and additives that make the crumbs crisp make it hard for them to absorb the milk. I use and all natural non GMO panko which absorbs all the milk without turning into mush.
Ciao For Now
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