Saturday, December 14, 2013

Random Cookbook of the Week - Old-School Comfort Food

I've fallen behind on blogging this month, but I'll try to catch up--between my blog tour posts for Christmas Past and having my usual round of holiday events front-loaded in the first half of December, I've been unusually busy.

Anyway, the last time I had time to give myself a random cookbook challenge, I drew Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli's Old-School Comfort Food and chose to make her...

Mom's Meatloaf

- 2 tsp canola oil, plus more if needed
- 2 small yellow onions, minced (about 1 cup)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- Kosher salt
- 1 lb ground beef
- 3/4 lb ground pork
- 1 tsp hot paprika
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 c. plus 2 T plain dried bread crumbs, plus more if needed
- 2/3 c. ketchup, plus more for brushing
- 1 c. sour cream
- 1 medium bunch curly parsley, leaves chopped (1/4 c.)
- 1 medium bunch fresh tarragon, leaves chopped
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten, plus another as needed

1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Make the meatloaf mix: In a medium skillet, heat the canola oil over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic, season with salt, and cook, stirring from time to time, until translucent, 3-5 minutes. Scrape into a blow and set aside to cool. Reserve the pan; do not wipe it out.

3. Put the beef and pork in a large bowl and gently knead them together with their hands. Spread the meat out on the bottom and sides of the bowl and season with 2 tsp salt. Add the paprika, pepper, bread crumbs, ketchup, sour cream, parsley, tarragon, the onion mixture, and 3 eggs. Mix to blend.

4. Taste test: Heat the skillet over medium heat. If there isn't a sufficient layer of fat left in the pan, add a little more oil. When the pan is hot, lower the heat and add a small piece of the meatloaf mixture. Cook until cooked through, 1-2 minutes per side. Remove from the pan and taste. If too moist, add more bread crumbs. If too dry, add another egg.

5. Cook the meatloaf: Mold the meat mixture into the shape of a rectangular loaf pan, roughly 9 x 5 inches, and place it on the parchment-lined baking sheet. The meat will feel slightly wet. It should form into a ball but still stick to your hands slightly. Bake for 15 minutes.

6. Brush the meatloaf with additional ketchup and lower the oven temperature to 350 F. Bake until the meat is firm when touched or when it has an internal temperature of 150 F, 30-35 minutes more. Remove from the oven, pour off any excess grease, and allow the meatloaf to rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing and serving. Brush again with ketchup, if desired.

For the most part this cookbook lives up to its name. Unlike some of the chef cookbooks I own, there's almost nothing in here that a reasonably good home cook like myself would feel intimidated to attempt, and none of the ingredients are so exotic I'd have a hard time obtaining them. (Keep in mind that I live in Seattle, though, with all the culinary benefits of a big, diverse coastal city. Still, I bet I could find what I needed to make 90% of these recipes, including the one above, in any average American grocery store.)

This meatloaf recipe was certainly straightforward and easy to make, albeit time-consuming enough to be a weekend-only venture. That said, it makes a large batch and I bet it would freeze well. It's tasty in a soothing, comfort food way--great for the cold dark days of fall and winter. 

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