Saturday, July 22, 2006

Meat Loaf

Meatloaf - before baking

Master Chow loves meat loaf.

A few years ago, I started experimenting with meat loaf recipes. My father despised the dish, so it was not something that my mother cooked, and I was not sure what made a good one or a bad one. Twenty years of vegetarianism didn't enlighten me (I now occasionally eat fish, and will take a bite of the charred bits on Master Chow's chicken or beef).

I finally settled on a "recipe" that is very forgiving, and according to Master Chow, moist and flavorful. By "forgiving," I mean that the recipe is adaptable to what you may have on hand. No parsley? Not a problem. Green onions in the fridge, but no Spanish onions? Throw 'em in. I have even made an all-turkey meat loaf, and flavored it with Sambal Olek, a hot chili paste. The turkey meat loaf turned out to be the dryest, so now I try to add some ground pork or beef to the turkey.

So here is the "recipe" - which means it is an estimate of amounts. Use your own judgment and taste, and don't be afraid to experiment.

Meat Loaf
3 pounds of ground meat - I have made up mixtures that included beef, pork, veal, turkey, or buffalo
1 carrot
1 stalk celery
1 baseball-sized onion
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 handful fresh parsley
8 dashes Worcestershire Sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
1 cup Italian breadcrumbs - I use Progresso brand
2 eggs
Kosher salt - as always, be careful with this. The ketchup, breadcrumbs, and Worcestershire Sauce all have salt, and you should take that into account.
pepper, freshly ground

3/4 -1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup brown sugar (does not have to be firmly packed)
1-2 Tablespoons dried mustard powder
5 dashes of Worcestershire Sauce
Pull out ingredients about 30 minutes before you plan to use them so that the meat warms up a bit (it will cook more evenly if you do so).
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Throw the carrot into a food processor and pulse until finely minced. Add the celery, onion, and garlic, and pulse until finely minced. Don't be tempted to throw everything in at the same time, or you will end up with large chunks of carrot or onion.
Add the parsley, Worchestershire sauce, ketchup, breadcrumbs, egg, and pepper. Pulse until you have a well blend mixture.
Add the veggie mixture to the meat, and lightly blend until well mixed. Don't overdo the mixing - it's a great way to get tough, dry meatloaf!
I place a flat baking rack, covered with foil, in the bottom of a roasting pan. I then shape the meat mixture into a "loaf" on top of the rack. Why? So that the grease drains off the loaf. Other people put stale bread on the bottom of the pan to soak up the grease.
Mix all the sauce ingredients together, and spread generously over the meatloaf.
Bake at 325 for about an hour. Raise the temperature to 350, and continue baking until an oven thermometer inserted in the center of the meatloaf reads about 145-150. Depending on your oven and the meat mixture that you used, this additional time could vary considerably: from as little as 20 minutes, to as long as 60 minutes. Once you pull the meatloaf out of the oven, residual heat will continue the cooking process until it reaches a food-safe 160-165 degrees for ground meats. This is what I do, but use your own judgment. The USDA guidelines are here and here.
As with all such dishes, it's better the next day!

Meatloaf - after


Anonymous rowena said...

Now buffalo is something that I haven't tried yet, although something in the back of my head tells me that it is available here (most likely at some restaurant). The one type of meat that I've been reluctant to use is donkey. They call it asino. I don't know, something about making a dish made from Shrek's gabber-mouthed sidekick just doesn't feel right!

August 03, 2006 8:30 AM  
Blogger Madam Chow said...

Well, I don't blame you one bit. Actually, I was a strict vegetarian for 20 years, but I occasionally eate fish now. I will sometimes nibble a charred edge of Master Chow's chicken or beef, but that's it. No beef broccoli cake noodle for me! At any rate, buffalo is tasty (according to many, including Master Chow), and naturally very lean and, therefore, more heart-healthy. Buffalo also graze on grass, and are not fed the processed foods and hormones that commercially raised cattle ingest. So far, though, Master Chow's favorite meat loaf mix is beef-pork-veal, in equal proportions. Donkey will NOT be making an appearance at our table!

August 04, 2006 12:34 PM  

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