Saturday, December 29, 2012

A Nice, Homey Meal in Between Parties

Last night I was in the mood for something that was homier; a comfort food, rather than holiday food. I am not over fond of meatloaf, but there isn't much that's more homey than that. I have made many meatloaf recipes over the years, including my mother-in-law's recipe, which is good. I guess last night I was just inspired, and this one turned out so delicious. Even while it was baking it was wafting heavenly smells about. I couldn't wait to try it out.

I had been looking through recipes, but nothing really called me. I got some ideas, and then just went with it. This is what I came up with:

Meatloaf Inspired

2 pounds lean hamburger meat

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, chopped fine

4 cloves garlic, minced

3/4 cup walnuts, finely grated

4 tablespoons psyllium husks (or use bread crumbs)

2 small cans mushrooms, drained, chopped
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino cheese

1/2 cup barbecue sauce

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup barbecue sauce, for top of meatloaf

Saute the onion in the olive oil until nicely browned, then add in the garlic to saute for another minute. Place the ground meat into a large bowl, and add in all the ingredients except the last 1/2 cup of barbecue sauce. Mix well with hands until combined. Place mixture into a large loaf pan, or two smaller pans. Spread the remaining barbecue sauce over top. Bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hours for the larger pan, or 1 hour for the smaller pans, until done. 

Meat Loaf, or anything made with ground meat, can benefit by adding different ingredients.  Some can be fillers that extend the amounts, some are just for flavor, and some things act as binders. Fillers, such as I used in this recipe, are things like the mushrooms and walnuts. Have you ever added mashed potatoes to hamburger meat? I learned this trick over 30 years ago. Cook and mash some potatoes, then add some to the ground meat. The mashed potatoes can be added up to not quite half the volume of the meat, at your discretion. This addition will loosen the texture of the meat, so eggs are nearly a must, but the flavor is excellent, and will have the family guessing at what made this meatloaf taste so good. This will certainly stretch the amount of meatloaf or hamburger patties you get from a pound of the meat.

Other Interesting Additions
Some other things you may not have thought of to flavor ground meat are ground nuts or seeds, such as walnuts, pecans, sesame or sunflower seeds. Depending on the overall flavor combination, using sesame seeds with some ground cashews and hoisin sauce would make for a nice oriental flavored meat. Using nuts and cheese together is also a great combo. Try chopping olives or capers finely and using them to add piquancy. Adding extra vegetables, such as grated carrot, finely diced celery or green pepper add nutrition as well as flavor. Applesauce is another really splendid addition to meatloaf, giving a little sweetness to the finished product. Bacon can be fried and chopped and added to the meat, or strips of bacon could be laid over the meat before baking.

Get inspired.  

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website, on Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.