Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Immutable Meat-Loaf

Why immutable? Meat-Loaf has not changed and will not change.  Meat-Loaf is just a big hunk of meat that is roasted and sliced and served.  What makes meat-loafs different from others is surrounded by techniques and styles of cooking. 

Meat-Loaf in my opinion must be served with Mash potatoes and corn!! Of course bread and butter too. Did I forget gravy?  You gotta have gravy!!

Another important ingredient is my personal assistant Sophie.  Sophie is my beautiful daughter and without her help and insistent  desire for meat-loaf none of this would have been possible.

Meat-Loaf in my opinion is probably one of the easiest and hardest dishes to prepare. Easy because its just plain simple to make.  Mix up a bunch of ingredients roast in oven.  How hard can it be?  Well it depends on the ingredients I guess and some of the techniques to pull it off. 

 What ever ingredients you choose make sure they are the best and freshest.  I personally like to use combinations of meats.
 I roughly use 50% Angus beef 25% each of ground Lamb and Veal.  I use the different meats for their flavor.  I also use only 80% lean beef because extra fat adds extra flavor. 

Its important to chop up all of your ingredients nice and small.  Here I use carrots as an example. Notice their perfect size? 
So what's in my Meat-Loaf?  Besides the meat I keep it relatively simple.

Carrots, a couple of celery stalks, onions, garlic, green onion, fresh Thyme, Fresh Italian parsley, salt pepper and pepper, Italian bread crumbs, Sun-dried Tomatoes, Port Tawney, Parmesan Cheese and lots of eggs, ketchup and Balsamic Vinegar  I also added a non-salt seasoning I get from Costco that is just awesome. 

First thing I do is pre-chop all ingredients.  I use a little food processor for the Sun-dried Tomatoes and garlic. 

At different intervals I toss everything into a skillet and fry it all up.  I also add seasonings at this point too.  

I like layering all my spices so everything has flavor.

So lets review a bit. I Chop up the onion, carrots, celery, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, I add thyme, Salt and pepper and green onion

and saute until it's all caramelized. 

 I deglaze with the Tawney and cool off entirely before adding it to meat mixture.  

To the meat mixture I add in lots of eggs.  In this particular I recipe based on meat weight I added about 8 scrambled eggs initially but eventually added several more to gain the texture I was looking for.   

So after I added the eggs I added the now caramelized cooled vegetables. And mixed thoroughly by hand.   I of course had my trusty little daughter to help me with my mixing.  I chopped up my parsley and added it to the mixture.  

I also added at this time some Italian bread crumbs and some cheese.  The bread crumbs are needed for two reasons. 

The first reason is to give your Loaf texture and the second reason to absorb some of the liquids and retain moisture during and after cooking. 

After thoroughly mixing your loaf take a sampling and fry it up. This is one of those extremely important techniques that cannot be over looked or stressed enough.  This is your opportunity to adjust your seasonings.  So after you get it all adjusted you might find that the loaf is to loose or to dense.  Very easy fix!! Add some more bread crumbs, Port, eggs or even tomato paste.  Let your imagination go wild. 

Place Loaf in your roasting pan.  Make sure to chose a pan that can be place on the cook top so you can make a gravy.  Now form your loaf!!! 

The traditional topping for Meat-Loaf is ketchup and it's a great tradition.  I love ketchup and it still works great as a topping.  The only thing I do slightly different is to add a balsamic vinegar reduction to the ketchup and slather the the top of the loaf.  Oh before I add the Ketchup I add some additional seasonings to the top then slather on the concoction. 

How do you reduce balsamic vinegar? Just boil it off a bit and add to your ketchup.  

 Roast your Loaf in a 350 degree pre-heated oven.  Use an internal temperature probe and cook until the internal temp is 140 degrees.  Don't worry after you take it out the temp will continue to climb a bit.  The 140 degree temp is the other coveted technique that is a must!!! Let it rest about 20 minutes and serve it.  Don't forget to make a gravy.