Browsing articles in "Meat"

Turkey Veggie Meatloaf with Caramelized Onions

TAW96760 I happen to think that meatloaf is pretty high up there on the comfort food scale. It’s kind of like mac n’ cheese or mashed potatoes. When you eat it you just feel good. I’ll be the first to admit though that meatloaf can be…well…kind of boring. It’s one of those dishes that I would never order in a restaurant for fear that it might be tasteless, or dry, or just down right bad tasting. At home though, it’s a different story. I consider myself somewhat of a meatloaf aficionado and over the years I’ve perfected my meatloaf recipe to the point where I can now proudly declare this to be the Best Meatloaf Ever. I know it’s a bold claim to make, but I stand by it. What makes this meatloaf so special, besides the topping of gooey cheese and candy-sweet caramelized onions, is the addition of lots of veggies. Sounds weird right? I mean it’s called meatloaf, not vegetable loaf. Stick with me though- I promise this will be good. The veggies in the meatloaf serve three purposes. First, they add moisture, second they add flavor, and third they add the ever important healthy bits. The last part is especially important the next day when your eating a huge slab of meatloaf in between two pieces of thick bread…and oops now you’re too full for salad. No big deal- the veggies are already in the loaf!TAW96614
I’ve tried all sorts of different veggie combinations in my meatloaf. Zucchini, spinach, green beans, peas, corn, you name it, it’s gone in meatloaf. In the end I always come back to the simple pairing of carrot and sweet red pepper.This combo provides just the right amount of moisture and as a bonus it adds a nice punch of color to what would otherwise be just a boring brown loaf. I also add a bit of flat leaf parsley if I have it on hand because I like its mild peppery flavor…it also rounds out the color spectrum quite nicely. I used to cook the veggies before I added them to the meat, but over the years I’ve learned that if you chop them up fairly small (especially the carrots) and add them raw they will cook inside the loaf and infuse the meat with juicy vegetable goodness. TAW96630
The other trick to a winning meatloaf- a free formed loaf. Traditionally meatloaf is cooked inside a bread loaf pan. While this method does yield a perfectly shaped loaf, it also means that you have to cook the meatloaf longer (increasing the chance it could dry out) and it eliminates the delicious extra “crust” that results from the free form method. I’ve found that if you cook your loaf in a baking pan just a bit bigger than loaf itself (about a 1-inch border of space around the edge) the air circulates around the meat allowing it to cook evenly and creating a tasty crisp exterior all around. TAW96659 Now  for the topping. This meatloaf is quite excellent on it’s own. It really doesn’t need a thick layer of melted cheese and sweet onions to be delicious. But let’s face it, good food is almost never about need and almost always about want. And you WANT these onions. If I had my way caramelized onions would be packaged and sold as candy. Sweet, oniony candy that I want to eat by the bowlful. Okay, that’s a little strange I admit, but what I’m trying to say is that even on their own caramelized onions rock and when combined with cheese and meatloaf…well words alone can’t describe the perfection of this combination. Yes, making the caramelized onions is an extra step- a 40 minutes extra step- but totally worth it. I promise.TAW96702 TAW96780

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Jamaican Patties

Jamaican Patties
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Jamaica? Sandy beaches, turquoise water, tropical breezes? How about a game of classic American football? Yup, Football and Jamaica…all rolled up into one rocking culinary adventure that we are calling our Jamaican Super Bowl Extravaganza! That’s right, you heard me. This year we are having a Jamaican themed Super Bowl party. What do you eat at a Jamaican football party? How about spicy Jerk chicken, Jamaican potato salad, rice salad with pineapple, desserts with coconut and tropical fruit, spicy avocado dip, exotic rum drinks, and of course- these tender, flaky meat filled patties.

Jamaican PattiesSo how did we get here? What brought about this sudden desire to combine America’s most beloved mid-winter excuse to get drunk on a Sunday with the cuisine of a country where football is actully soccer and is played on the beach? Well, let’s start at the beginning. Once there was a girl who met a guy from a far off land…okay maybe we won’t start that far back, I am trying to share a recipe with you, not write a fairy tale. The short version is that I have a good friend (Heather) who married a guy from Jamaica (Gary). In addition to much love and happiness, Gary also brought his passion for Jamaican cuisine into Heather’s life. Heather in turn has shared these dishes, and many of the recipes, with us- her very lucky friends (when you have a friend who shows up at your potluck with a HUGE platter of spicy jerk chicken you know you have a good thing going)! About a month ago we were sitting around with some friends and the conversation somehow turned to Jamaica and then inevitably, to the food of Jamaica, when someone (most likely me) said, “Hey, we should have a Jamaican themed potluck!” Since we were already planning on having everyone in the room over for the Super Bowl, it only made sense to combine the two together. This is how the Jamaican football extravaganza was born. I knew right away that I wanted to make these patties. Once, many years ago, I was lucky enough to visit Jamaica. In addition to the beautiful scenery, warm weather and friendly people, one of the highlights of this trip was the Jamaican Pattie that I got from a tiny one room restaurant on the side of the road for less than a dollar. The pattie consisted of a spicy, juicy meat filling that was wrapped in the most tender flaky crust I’d ever eaten. It was the kind of food that you inhale in two bites, lick your fingers and go back for more. They sell a frozen version of the Jamaican pattie in the grocery store but I’m afraid to try them for fear that I will be sorely disappointed. Of course, I don’t need to buy them from the store since I happen to have a friend who can make them from scratch. In my opinion Heather makes a pretty mean pattie. One time she came over with a baking dish mounded high with these spicy little delights. We ate them for days and still wished for more. Jamaican Patties Heather happily shared her recipe for patties with me and I happily went about making them with only a few minor adjustments (I can’t help myself- no recipe is safe in my hands). Actually, the changes were per her request. She gave me the recipe with a warning that she has never felt the crust was quite right- not as flaky yet tender as the real deal. She was anxious to see if I could remedy this problem. Not one to take a recipe challenge lightly, I eagerly set about trying to create the perfect pattie crust. Heather hasn’t tried them yet (I will make another batch the day before the Super Bowl ) but it is my humble opinion that the crust came out simply amazing. It’s flaky yet still has a chewy bite to it. It’s thick enough to handle the moist filling yet thin enough to not overpower the flavor of the meat and spice inside. The secret…a technique called Fraisage. This is a pastry making technique where you basically smear the butter into the dough with the heel of your hand creating alternating layers of butter and dough. The result in a super flaky crust. Since I couldn’t photograph myself while I was making the dough here is a YouTube video that gives you a visual tutorial of Fraisage. It’s actually a really simple technique with amazing results.

Fraisage for flaky crust

When you think about it the Jamaican Pattie really is the perfect Super Bowl food. It can be eaten with one hand while you drink beer with the other hand, it’s got a spicy kick to it, and the filling is made primarily of meat. What more could you want from a Super Bowl Food?

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Pineapple Ginger Meatballs

Pineapple Ginger Meatballs
Are you ready for a confession? Okay, here it is… I am a BIG fan of meatballs. There, I said it. While I refuse to be ashamed.of this self-professed meatball love, deep down I can’t help feeling a little funny about it. I mean, these are balls of meat we’re talking about here. It’s not like when people say "I love chocolate”, or “I am crazy about pasta”. There’s nothing romantic, or exotic, or even remotely interesting about having a love of meatballs. I don’t care though. Call me a rebel if you must, but I like my meat in ball form. And I like my meatballs with lots of savory bits tucked inside and smothered with a chunky sauce.
Did you know that I only found out a few years ago that you could buy pre-made meatballs in the store? Really, it’s true. One of the first meals I remember my mom teaching me how to make was home made spaghetti and meatballs, so I guess for a long time I assumed that everyone made their own meatballs. I still don’t understand why everyone doesn’t. The problem with store bought meatballs is that they are just that…balls of meat. Where’s the flavor? Where’s the chopped onion and garlic? What about the fresh herbs? A meatball that’s only meat is just so…boring.
Not these guys though. Loaded with fresh ginger and jalapeno these meatballs are practically bursting with flavor. And I haven’t even mentioned the sauce yet. Okay…so it’s technically not a sauce in the true sense of the word, but a stellar meatball topping if I ever saw one. Fresh pineapple, dried apricots, red onion and a bit more ginger. Serve over couscous and top it off with almonds, scallions and a drizzle of toasted sesame oil- now that’s what I call a meatball! So put down that boring frozen ball of meat, gather your ingredients and make some meatballs. Cause this world needs more people who share the meatball love.

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