Wednesday, April 20, 2011

meatloaf and cornbread

Meatloaf with cornbread shells, steamed edamame and harissa.

This is probably the most normal thing I've ever cooked, which makes it totally bizarre for me. I only remember eating meatloaf about three times as a kid, and I'm pretty sure my mom made it with turkey, which I don't really like. I ended up with this idea because I had ground beef left over from last night's (ridiculously rare) burger (with caramel corn on the side), and was originally going to make one half-sized loaf... but then I came across this recipe on YumSugar and decided that I'd make multiple mini-loaves and eat them for a couple days. Also I wanted an excuse to buy some lamb to add in, because I love lamb about twelve times more than beef. I ended up making four loaves, but they're definitely bigger than single portions... I'd made it through half of one meatloaf and only one of the cornbreads when I started to feel full, so I made myself finish the edamame and packed up the rest. My meatloaf wasn't really based on the YumSugar one except for the shape... you can sort of do whatever you want to this kind of dish. I meant to put some onions and garlic in mine but got distracted by the feeling of meat squishing between my fingers and totally forgot.

1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 lb ground lamb
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp rosemary
1 large egg
3/4 cup panko or other breadcrumbs
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella

Preheat the oven to 450ºF and cover a baking sheet with foil. Use your hands or a spatula to mix the two meats together. 

Mix the egg, tomato paste, olive oil (if you're using tomato sauce instead you can skip that, I just used it to thin out the paste a little), rosemary, and breadcrumbs together in a large bowl. I would've added some pressed garlic and minced onions at this point if I'd been paying attention.

Add the meat and cheese to the large bowl, and combine with the tomato paste mixture, making sure it's evenly distributed. Shape four to six small loaves and place them on the foil. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the internal temperature is 160ºF (pro tip: locate your meat thermometer before sticking them in the oven, or you'll end up having to use your candy one). Let the loaves rest for ten minutes or so and then serve with harissa or some other delicious spicy thing (ketchup is gross, kids).

Mmm. It was really delicious. Lots of rosemary flavor, and the spicy harissa worked perfectly.

The meatloaf turned out way better than I expected, and I'll definitely make it again. I might leave the cheese out in the future, because it didn't really add any flavor and there are too many delicious cheeses out there to waste stomach space on tasteless ones. Maybe I'll use gruyère instead of mozzarella next time.

Although Steve tells me the only appropriate way to eat meatloaf is with mashed potatoes and gravy, I decided to make cornbread to go with mine and steam some shelled edamame for something green. I'm probably never going to come up with a real cornbread recipe because, honestly, the Jiffy kind is better than pretty much any fancy one I've ever had. Even when I forget to buy milk and have to make it with water. I remember calling my mother before a Thanksgiving-type dinner with my old roommates, dying to know how she made her fantastic cornbread, and being kind of shocked to find out it came from a box. But it's awesome. And she did come up with the idea for baking it in a madeleine pan, which makes the crunchiest little cornbread shells. Especially when you use bacon fat to grease the pan, because that's how people have been making cornbread ever since Laura Ingalls Wilder and all those other people who wrote ostensibly historical novels that are entirely about food.

I had a beet gin and tonic with my dinner, because beets are hearty and normal. Or something.

I've been cooking all this meat lately because the arrival of spring has somehow made me more anemic than usual, but I am looking forward to making some interesting veggie dishes now that fun things are coming into season. This weekend I'm going to play with desserts, though, and maybe take some matzo brittle to an Easter party, because having no religion means I can mix things up like that. Also, seriously... matzo brittle! Yum!

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