Right along with the mashed-potato revolution, meatloaf is now as popular as ever. Especially in these anxious times, we become more needy for good ol’ home-cooking—”just like Mom’s.” I like simple and tasty meatloaf with maybe an outside wrap of bacon or a brushing of barbecue sauce or ketchup. And a big sandwich of thick slices of leftover loaf piled high on mayo-slathered, squishy white bread is still an American classic.
But I can really become quite inspired creating fun variations. Regular ground beef can be paired up with ground veal, pork or sausage. Or, for a lighter version you can use part ground turkey or chicken. Meatloaf can be quite dressed up with goodies such as wild mushroom sauce or roasted corn salsa. One of my favorite twists is Green Chile Meatloaf with Spicy Tequila Tomato Sauce. It will warm up your menu with some real south-of-the-border heat.
The perfect tools for mixing meatloaf are your own (clean) hands. It’s like making mudpies when you were a kid! But while you’re having all that fun mixing meatloaf, don’t over-handle it; and when filling the baking pan, be sure to pack the corners and get the air bubbles out, but don’t compact the mixture too tight.
Most meatloaves can be shaped either by packing in a loaf pan or ring mold, or by placing the meatloaf mixture in a jelly roll pan or sided baking dish then patting into a free-form oval, round or rectangle. Cooking time will vary depending on the shape; a good instant-read thermometer is your best guide. In general, loaf pans and other compact shapes will take a bit longer to cook than flatter, more free-form shapes. Also, individual size meatloaves made in mini-loaf pans or muffin tins take only about 30 minutes to bake.
Whether you choose a classic or a newfangled style, meatloaf can be a welcome comfort food to offset the winter blues!
GREEN CHILE MEATLOAF WITH SPICY TEQUILA TOMATO SAUCE
Makes 6 – 8 servings
1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 pound ground pork
1/2 cup fine, dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup chili sauce
1 small can (4 ounces) diced green chiles
1 tablespoon minced garlic
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup 1/4-inch-chopped onions
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup tequila
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes in puree
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh or canned jalapeños (taste for heat—they vary a lot!)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
Preheat oven to 350°F. Pan-spray a 9-inch round cake pan and set aside.
Mix meatloaf ingredients together until well combined. Place mixture in pan and pack in well, rounding and smoothing the top. Then rap pan on the counter to remove any air bubbles.
Bake for 1 1/2 hours or until meatloaf reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees F. Cool meatloaf for 10 minutes then drain off grease. Loosen from sides of pan with a knife and remove loaf from pan.
Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. Heat olive oil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Sauté onions until translucent, about 2 – 3 minutes. Add garlic and cumin and sauté about 1/2 minute more; do not brown garlic. Add tequila and tomatoes, stir well and bring to a boil. Stir in jalapeños and salt, reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook until liquid is reduced and sauce is slightly thickened, about 5 – 7 more minutes. Remove from the heat and fold in sour cream and cilantro.
Cut meatloaf in thick slices, and serve with the sauce.
Chef’s Note: For a quick variation, serve meatloaf with salsa instead of making the sauce.
©Copyright 2009 by Kathy Casey Food Studios®