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Sauteed vegetables and spices make meatloaf an elegant comfort food

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Posted: Monday, May 11, 2015 9:50 am

Meatloaf is a common dinner in many households. It can, however, turn out dry and, frankly, be somewhat boring.

To solve the dryness issue, this recipe adds pork sausage to give the loaf needed fat and is cooked in a water bath. And, with the addition of the sauted veggies and spices, this meatloaf is anything but boring! It is elegant comfort food.

Not your mother’s meatloaf

3 tablespoons butter

3/4 cup diced onion

3/4 cup diced scallion

3/4 cup diced fennel bulb

1/2 cup diced carrots

1/4 cup diced celery

1/4 cup diced red bell pepper

1/4 cup diced green bell pepper

2 teaspoons minced garlic

Salt, to taste

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

3 eggs, well beaten

1/2 cup ketchup

1/2 cup half and half

2 pounds lean ground beef chuck

12-ounce sausage meat (not fennel-flavored Italian sausage)

3/4 cup fine fresh bread crumbs, toasted (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Melt the butter in a heavy skillet and add the onion, scallions, fennel, carrots, celery, bell peppers, and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until the moisture from the vegetables has evaporated, about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool; then refrigerate, covered, until chilled, at least one hour. Combine the salt, black pepper, white pepper, cayenne, cumin, nutmeg, and eggs in a mixing bowl, and beat well. Add the ketchup and half-and-half. Blend thoroughly.

Add the chuck, sausage, and bread crumbs to the egg mixture. Then add the chilled vegetables and mix thoroughly with your hands, kneading for five minutes. With damp hands, form the mixture into an oval approximately 17x 4 1/2 x 1 1/2 inches — resembling a long loaf of bread.

Place the meatloaf in a baking dish and place the dish inside a larger pan. Pour boiling water into the larger pan until it reaches halfway up the sides of the baking dish. Place the pan in the oven and bake for one hour.

Remove the baking dish from the water bath, and let the meat loaf rest for 20 minutes before slicing and serving.

Makes 8 to 10 portions

Toasted fresh bread crumbs

Cube day old bread. If bread is still soft and moist, leave out on the counter for 6 to 8 hours to dry out. Pulse in a food processer. Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Spread crumbs on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer. Toast for 25 minutes. Crumbs can be stored in a zip-lock bag for up to a month.

Doug Seed was raised in Bloomfield Hills, Mich. and has lived in Morada since 1984. He is a non-denominational clergyman, specializing in research and teaching of the Bible and is also co-owner of A Moveable Feast, a Lodi-based food truck. He is married to Carole and they have four sons. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, playing bridge and golfing.

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