many meatloaves or "loaves of meat"

A little spring is in the air, almost 60 degrees here in beautiful central Indiana.  Okay, it's not that pleasing visually with the melting ice and snow leaving windblown debris and that lovely dark salty sludge behind.  A bit like the glacial moraine fields in the Canadian Rockies.  A bit, just take away the majesty of the mountain peaks, the purity of the water and the clear blue of the skies at 10,000 feet.  If you've not been to Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada add it to your travel list.  Drive the Columbia Icefields Parkway to Banff and live for yourself the phrase, breath-taking.  Every turn of the road reveals a vista more stunning and literally you gasp in awe.  The crowds and tour buses in Banff rarely reach Jasper.  Hike above the alpine tree line along hanging Angel Glacier off Mt. Edith Cavell.  So amazing.
traversing glacial moraine (there is a point to these pictures)

Sara and Kelly with our tour bus on the glacier,
these tires would have been handy on my van this winter

on our Edith Cavell hike to celebrate our 25th anniversary in 2009
That's a long way from my kitchen and today's discussion of "loaf of meat", Greg's term of endearment for meatloaf.  We probably went years without enjoying meatloaf and then I found a recipe in Cook's Illustrated for a lightened meatloaf employing sauteed mushrooms to intensify the umami flavors of the meatloaf and keep it moist.  If you have been reading my blog for a while, you can guess that I use ground turkey instead of ground beef.  Please feel free to use lean ground beef if you like, Cook's Illustrated does and they spend a crazy amount of time selecting ingredients.  If you substitute lean ground turkey or chicken in any recipe add a little additional olive oil.  It's a trade-off, really since the olive oil is still a fat but it is a "good" unsaturated fat.  All in moderation, my friends.  We love this meatloaf with it's smooth texture and tangy sauce.

The February/March Fine Cooking magazine features "8 delicious ways to make the best meatloaf" and this is how we went off on a little tangent and tried an adaptation of their Southwest meatloaf.  Seriously delicious.  One of the almost unlimited variations on meatloaf in an 8 page spread with a gorgeous layout and easy to follow step by step format.  Meatloaf is not that complicated, but if you learn a few tricks you can take this comfort food to a new level.

I have a great meatloaf pan.  It has an insert with holes along the bottom and space between the insert and the outer loaf pan so the meatloaf drains and does not sit in it's "juices".  Cook's Illustrated advocates placing a baking rack in a rimmed sheet and topping the rack with an 8 x 6 piece of foil with holes poked through for drainage.  You don't have to use either method, but they both make for a less greasy finished product.

Yummy Lightened Meatloaf

1-2 T olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 red/yellow/orange pepper, cored and chopped
kosher salt
10 ounces cremini (baby bella) or white mushrooms, cleaned, trimmed and sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves or 1 T dried thyme
1/4 C tomato juice
2 slices hearty white bread, torn ( 1 C panko breadcrumbs as a substitute)
1 pound ground turkey, chicken or lean ground beef
1 egg
1 T soy sauce
1 T Dijon mustard
2 T finely chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

1/3 C ketchup
3 T apple cider vinegar
1 tsp hot sauce
2 T light brown sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Cook onion and peppers with a 1/4 tsp of salt until translucent, 5 to 8 minutes.  Add mushrooms and cook until they release their liquid, about 5 minutes.  Increase heat to medium high and cook until liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes more.  Add garlic and thyme and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Stir in tomato juice and cook until thickened, about 1 minute.  Cool for 5 minutes then transfer mixture to a food processor bowl.  Add bread or breadcrumbs and process until smooth.  Add meat and pulse a few times to combine.  Whisk together egg, soy sauce, mustard, parsley, pepper and 1/4 tsp salt.  Add meat mixture and combine with hands until thoroughly blended (you can just add the egg mixture to the food processor instead).  Shape mixture into loaf pan or into a loaf shape on prepared rack.  Bake until meatloaf registers 160 degrees on a thermometer, or about one hour.  Remove from oven and heat broiler.
Make the glaze by combining ketchup, vinegar, hot sauce and sugar in a small saucepan.  Simmer over medium heat until thickened, about 5 minutes.  Spread glaze over baked meatloaf and place under broiler for about 3 minutes or until it begins to bubble.  Let meatloaf rest 10 minutes and then slice to serve.

Southwest Meatloaf

2 T olive oil
1 white or yellow onion, chopped
1 red or yellow pepper, chopped
1 jalepeno, seeded and chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
4 ounces hearty or coarse white bread (old or stale and crusty bread is great), broken into big pieces
1 C milk
1 1/2 to 2 pounds ground turkey, chicken, beef and or pork
2 eggs, beaten
1 T Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp kosher salt
1-2 tsp lime zest
1/4 C chopped cilantro leaves
1 T mild chile powder or 1/2 tsp hot chile powder
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

2 T ketchup
1 T minced canned chipotle in adobo

This is going to go about the same as the first recipe.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Sautee the onion, pepper and jalepeno until softened, about 5-8 minutes.  Add the garlic and heat an additional 30 seconds until fragrant.  Let cool until just warm in a large mixing bowl.

In a shallow dish or pan soak the bread in the milk, flipping once until soggy or about 5 to 10 minutes.  Lightly squeeze excess liquid from bread.  Add to the onion mixture in the large bowl.  I've always used this method instead of just using breadcrumbs and it's worth the extra dish.

Add the meat, egg, Worcestershire, salt, zest, cilantro, chile powder and black pepper to the mixing bowl.  Take off your rings and bracelets and use your hands to gently mix all the ingredients together.
Shape into a loaf and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet (use the baking pan, baking rack and foil method as above if you like) or shape into a loaf pan (the double pan with drainage as described above if you have it).

Mix the ketchup and chipotle chile together and spread across top of meatloaf.

Bake until the internal temperature measures 160 degrees, or about one hour.

I had leftover ciabatta bread in the freezer, so that's my bread of choice soaking in the milk

ground turkey, eggs, Worcestershire, salt, pepper and chile powder

now the bread, onion mixture and cilantro a little out of order getting to the bowl

a view from the top

smooshed and in the pan


on my plate with some cumin/cinnamon dusted roasted sweet potatoes
Just posted this to realize that to celebrate my 75th post I'd written about meatloaf of all things.  Too funny.


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