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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Comfort Food

Tried a couple of recipes from Smitten Kitchen this week: Sweet Potato-Sausage Soup and Chocolate Soufflé Cupcakes (I left the mint out of the cream because the boys don't like it). The soup (I added white beans to this) was a big hit at a potluck. The cupcakes were a big hit with everyone in the family, but Very. Messy. Without any flour to hold them together, they were pretty crumbly. It's also possible that I overcooked them by a minute or so. And although Deb of Smitten Kitchen said the recipe was for 9 and maybe a half cupcakes, I had 10 very full cups.

Tonight's new recipe was pulled from my stack of January/February Cook's Illustrateds. When I first get an issue, I use small flags to mark the recipes I want to try some time. I may never get around to trying everything I've marked, or, as with today's recipe, it just may take a few years for the recipe, craving and ingredients planets to align. In any case, it was DELICIOUS. All the kids liked it, too, and (almost best of all) there are leftovers for sandwiches!


All-Beef Meatloaf
adapted from Cook's Illustrated Jan/Feb 2006

3 oz Monterey Jack cheese, grated on small holes
1 T unsalted butter
1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 celery rib, chopped fine
1 garlic clove, minced or pressed
2 t minced fresh thyme leaves
1 t paprika
1/4 C tomato juice (I used the Knudsen's Very Veggie I bought for the minestrone)
1/2 C low-sodium chicken broth
2 large eggs
1/2 t unflavored powdered gelatin
1 T soy sauce
1 t Dijon mustard
2/3 C crushed saltine crackers
2 T minced fresh parsley leaves
3/4 t table salt
1/2 t freshly-ground black pepper
1 lb ground sirloin
1 lb ground chuck (if you can't find specific cuts, go with any 85% lean ground beef; I used a bit less than 2 lbs ground grass-fed, dry-aged Black Angus from Highland Oak Farm)

Glaze
(I skipped this step for lack of time, and didn't miss it; but then, I ate my meatloaf with a little of my mom's chili sauce, which fills the same flavor niche the glaze would have)
1/2 C ketchup
1 t hot pepper sauce
1/2 t ground coriander
1/4 C apple cider vinegar
3 T packed light brown sugar

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spread cheese on a plate and freeze. Fold heavy-duty foil to make a 6x10-inch rectangle, and put it on a metal cooling rack over a baking sheet. Poke holes in the foil every half-inch or so. Spray with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Heat butter in skillet over medium-high heat until foaming; add onion and celery and cook until translucent and beginning to brown. Add garlic, thyme, and paprika and cook another minute or so. Reduce heat and add tomato juice, scraping up browned bits and simmering until thickened. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

3. Whisk broth and eggs in a large bowl. Sprinkle gelatin over liquid and let stand 5 minutes. Stir in soy sauce, mustard, saltines, parsley, salt, pepper and onion mixture. If cheese is sufficiently frozen, crumble it into a coarse powder and sprinkle it over the top. Add beef and mix gently with your hands until thoroughly combined, trying not to overwork it. Transfer meat to prepared foil and pat into an oval loaf about 2 inches high. Bake until center of loaf reaches 135-140 degrees, about an hour. Remove from oven and turn on broiler.

4. While loaf cooks, combine glaze ingredients in small pan. Bring to simmer over medium heat and cook until thick and syrupy. Sprad half of glaze evenly on meat with a rubber spatula, then broil until glaze bubbles and starts to brown at edges, about 5 minutes, then repeat. Let meatloaf cool 15-20 minutes before cutting.

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