Monday, September 17, 2007

A Meatloaf from the Heartland

Wikipedia says meatloaf can be considered "Midwestern" ... so we're claiming it! Now, I know everyone has their own special family meatloaf recipe that has been passed down through the years and you all are thinking it's the best. However, you must try this "gourmet'd" version of meatloaf. I found an inspiring recipe from an old Bon Apettit magazine and then halved it for two and modified it heavily. This is the best meatloaf I have ever had and maybe one of the more nutitionally healthy! I'm going to post my version since I did modify it heavily but if anyone would like to see the original, please let me know and I will post it. Sorry for the pics, it's really hard to make meatloaf look good in a photo. Plus we weren't able to wait the 20 min. resting time (it was late and we were hungry!) and the slices fell apart when we took them out. Don't let the pics turn you off .... this is a keeper!

Roasted Vegetable Meatloaf (2-4 servings)

1 medium zuchini; halved lengthwise and seeds scooped out, then cut into 1" crescent moon chunks
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1" chunks
1 medium fennel bulb, outer leaves discarded and cut into 1" chunks (don't use the frilly ends, just the bulb)
splash of olive oil
1 lb. ground beef
1 c. coarsely grated whole milk mozzarella
3/4 c. bread crumbs (preferably panko)
3/4 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
1/4 t. crushed red pepper
1/2 c. ketchup, divided
1 large egg
small sprig of fresh rosemary, leaves removed from stalk (roughly 1/2-1 T.)

Step 1: Make a Roasted Veggie Puree - Preheat oven to 400 F. Arrange prepped zuchini, bell pepper and fennel in a single layer on a metal baking tray. Toss lightly with olive oil and season with salt. Roast 25-30 min. until vegetables are tender. Cool. Puree vegetables in a food processor or blender. Set aside

Step 2: Make the Meatloaf - Preheat oven to 375 F. In a large bowl, mix ground beef, mozzarella, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, fresh rosemary and 1/2 c. of the roasted vegetable puree. In a medium bowl, whisk 1/4 c. ketchup and egg then add to beef mixture, incorporating well. Form into a loaf with a rounded top and place into a metal loaf pan. Spoon remaining 1/4 c. ketchup over top of loaf. Bake meatloaf until cooked through, juices run clear and top is browned, about 1 hr. 10 min. (160 F internal temp). Remove from oven; let meatloaf rest 20 min before serving.

My thoughts: The combination of the red pepper, fennel, and rosemary flavor the meat so well. Plus the oil that comes from roasting red peppers makes a very moist meatloaf. Usually you would need to use meat with a little more fat in it to get a nice tasting meatloaf, but I was able to use lean meat because the veggie puree helped keep it soft. The original recipe did not call for puree'ing the roasted veggies but I thought that the puree gave the meatloaf a more consistent flavor throughout and you did not have veggie chunks you were running into and I think it really helped hold the loaf together. If you have leftover veggie puree, it tastes great on bruschetta or crostini ... or I have used it for baby food even!


wirrek said...

My meatloaves always fall apart whether or not they are rested. Don't blame yourself. I am going to try this one next time I make a meat loaf. I love the idea of veggies!

Robin said...

Just updated the picture, had to redeem myself! The leftovers made a better display.