Friday, November 13, 2009

Meatloaf Virginity Lost

I recently popped my meatloaf cherry. Yes, I now feel like I have entered the hall of true domesticates. I made my first meatloaf, and in some strange manner reminiscent of the Nuclear Age, as I pulled it out of the oven I felt as if some right of passage had taken place.

Being that this blog is about ecology, our relationship with the world around us, and food...meatloaf is a definite dish that has a reputation in the world. In its various mutations, meatloaf is a comfort food, a hearty meal that sits in the stomach and has blessed family dinners for thousands of years. Ground meat mixed with bread crumbs or stuffs has been utilized throughout history as a means to spread meat out in times of hardship, to utilize leftover meat rather than waste it, and to make less appetizing meat more edible. Meatballs, the mini meatloafs, have been around for ages.

While most ancient meatloaf recipes used already cooked meat, left overs, variations of mince, or what have you, thanks to the industrial revolution raw ground meat was made inexpensive and readily available in the 19th century for American culture. But it wasn't until the 20th century that meatloaf made its way into the cannon of American cookbooks, probably due to better refridergation, (ground meat is more perishable.)

My current pregnancy craving is ground meat...which admittedly is disgusting to confess, but there you have it. I made spaghetti and meat sauce one night and the next decided that meatloaf was in order. I chose an Ina Garten recipe because her recipes are fool proof, and have a certain elegant panache that I felt would some how make this humble dish a bit more interesting, without compromising its essence.

Meatloaf is a phrase that for some reason I find slightly unsettling. It just sounds slovenly in some way, and I don't think it is necessarily due to the stage name of a certain musician. As I took the five pound of ground meat into my hands to knead and shape into a loaf, I tried to stifle the gross feeling that filled my gut...because while a meatloaf may not be pretty to look at, by god it is delicious.

The recipe I chose used 5 lbs of ground turkey, which being 95% fat free made the loaf a little lighter in theory than its beef counterparts. But let me tell you, this massive wedge of steaming meat fresh out the oven is far from what would classify as a light meal, but the amazing thing is that this is a relatively healthy dish! I mean look at it...would you ever guess?

According to Chef, it was cooked to perfection. "And now you have a meat ball recipe too!" Two dishes with one bird...the possibilities are endless. I encourage everyone in these upcoming cold months to indulge in this timeless dish. It is pure satisfaction.

Good Life Recipe #14 / Turkey Meat Loaf / Ina Garten
  • 3 cups chopped yellow onions (2 large onions)
  • 2 tablespoons of good olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons of kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • 1/3 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 5 lbs of turkey breast
  • 1 1/2 cups plain dry bread crumbs
  • 3 extra large eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 ketchup
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees
  • In a medium pan cook on medium-low heat, cook the onions, olive oil, salt pepper, and thyme until the onions are translucent but not browned, approx. 15 minutes
  • Add the Worcestershire sauce, chicken stock, and tomato paste and mix well
  • Cool to room temp.
  • Combine the ground turkey, bread crumbs, eggs, and onion mixture in a large bowl. Mix well and shape into a rectangular loaf on an ungreased baking sheet.
  • Spread ketchup evenly on top.
  • Bake for 1 1/2 hours until the internal temp. is 160 degrees and the meat loaf is cooked through.

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