Monday, October 12, 2009

Comfort foods- meatloaf

We all have foods that remind us of when we were young, of simpler times, of happy memories.

They are foods that are familiar, usually home cooked and remind us of childhood. They can be anything and different things for different people, but typically they are simple to prepare, inexpensive and very tasty.

Some classics are macaroni and cheese, pot roast, mashed potatoes, beef stew, chocolate cake, brownies, chicken and dumplings, green bean casserole, baked beans or beanie weenie, potato salad and meatloaf.

One of my family's favorites is meatloaf. Actually, over the years we've had a lot of single friends who were away from family and this was frequently requested. I do not use a standard recipe, just kind of dump and toss and the one thing I can say is even though it is always a little different it is always moist and delicious.

As much as I love to cook, and even play with my food, raw meat still kind of squicks me out so when I make things like meatloaf or meatballs I make several meals worth.

Instead of a recipe I am going to give you a simple formula that you can pick and choose from. (Yeah, I do that a lot.)

For each pound of ground meat- hamburger, turkey, chicken, venison, etc.:

  • 1 egg

  • 1/2 cup or more of filler- breadcrumbs, sliced soft bread, cooked rice, oatmeal

  • Enough milk (evaporated skim milk is wonderful for this rich without the calories of a heavier cream) to cover the filler

  • 1 Tbsp of A-1 steak sauce

  • 1 - 2 Tbsp minced dried onion (this somehow magically gives you the flavor without repeating later- I discovered it by accident and everyone who has ever had my meatloaf asks my secret since they know onion is in there but doesn't make them belch later like others do).

  • If using a tomato based sauce, about 1/4 cup tomato sauce or big sploosh of ketchup, if not you can make a nice brown mushroom gravy to serve alongside of if desired.

  • You can add in shredded veggies if you like- carrots and zucchini work well.
    Salt and pepper or salt free substitute

Mix all ingredients together until just blended- overmixing makes a very tough meatloaf.

You can make the meatloaves free-form or use bread pans- cook between 1 and 1 1/2 hours @ 375 degrees depending on how large they are, or my fave is to make mini loaves or use cupcake pans so they bake faster- 25 to 35 minutes.

Let stand 5 minutes to settle before serving.

Another fun thing to do is lay out waxed or freezer paper and flatten the raw meat mixture like you are making a pizza crust and fill with grated cheese and chopped broccoli leaving 1 inch around the sides clear then roll up like a jelly-roll before baking- makes a beautiful presentation.

Posted by Sherry of Loon-atics In The Kitchen

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