Meat Loaf can be more than just comfort food….it can be poetry.

Beef / November 22, 2016

There is prose and music in every kitchen. Those who use their culinary talents to transform a table, elevate a palate, and elicit a gasp for simply plating food deserve a little extra applause. I revere those who are geniuses in an apron. They inspire me.

And then there’s the meat loaf. Oh gosh. So many things have transpired in the lives of people over a plate of meatloaf, even though it has a name that sounds like a lazy side of cow, or a deadbeat, or an ex-spouse who never paid alimony. This is what we refer to as “comfort food?” We’re odd creatures indeed.

So, being the bling-cuisine geek that I am, I decided to help this dish along. Iit could also stand to have a few little twists added in addition to being presented as though it were inside a compartmentalized tin foil container. I am not changing it drastically, mind you. I just added some sriracha sauce and some complex artisanal herb salt that fell gently into the mass of ground beef like a secret being written in a diary. Only those who read it with care will find truth between the lines….or between the tines, I suppose.

I do have a few recipes for meatloaf that add raisins or cranberries, and benefit from the addition of Moroccan spices and exotic local sausage. But this time, I just added a kick. Sorely needed, in my opinion.

Now, “gravy” is another subject entirely. It’s already feels comfortable. Like the sayings, “good gravy!” and “you’re riding the gravy train..” or “the rest is just gravy,” we can’t help smiling while it’s thickening.

But let’s move on. This post is about meatloaf. About a brick of beef. And as you’re viewing these photos you are beginning to see how serious I am about improving our little icon of everyday nourishment.

Next, it isn’t comfort food without potatoes. But not just any potato! Miniature golden potatoes, roasted with fragrant thyme and lots of excellent olive oil and aged balsamic. These regal roots could even stand on their own, don’t you agree?

Now, growing up, my mother always cooked her meatloaf in a loaf pan. (duh…) But it’s messy and the beef ends up kind of bubbling in its own vat of fat. That’s fine with other more conscious meal preparations, but we’re trying to mitigate everything “loafy,” yes? I say, form it into a brick on a sheet pan lined with foil. The meat cooks more evenly, (especially when you use a meat thermometer for accuracy,) it’s easier to say, “Oh, wow! That is so pretty!” And clean up is a snap. You’re going to want to keep licking the gravy bowl so I’m all for freeing up more time for slurping.

Overall, I think I accomplished my goal. I added a little poetry to my plate, and I am giving you the recipe so you can do it, too.

​And lucky for you I didn’t have thyme to make anything rhyme….
​hehe….sorry.


Sriracha Herbed Meatloaf with Beef Gravy ​and Thyme Fragranced Golden Potatoes

Ingredients

1 lb lean ground beef
1 large egg, whisked
1/3 C plain bread crumbs
2-3 T heavy cream
1/3 C white onion chopped finely
1 t herb salt
¼ t white pepper
1 t kosher salt
¼ C catsup
1/8+ C Sriracha sauce (Your choice)
Small golden potatoes that are about 2 inches in width (Or cut larger potatoes into these huge chunks)
Sprigs of fresh thyme
3 T olive oil
3 T balsamic vinegar
4 T butter
1 cube beef bouillon dissolved in 2 C boiling water
¼ t Kitchen Bouquet
¼ C flour
Salt and Pepper to taste for gravy

Method

Toss potatoes with the balsamic vinegar and oil, generously salt and pepper, place on cookie sheet. Scatter fresh sprigs of thyme on top. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 45-50 minutes or until outside is caramelized and inside is soft. Watch it as the balsamic can burn. I suggest lining the baking sheet with foil.

In a large mixing bowl, combine meat, egg, cream, bread crumbs, white pepper, kosher salt, herb salt, catsup and Sriracha. Blend with hands. Form into a log and place on a foil lined cookie sheet. Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 35-40 minutes, or until internal temp is 170 degrees. (You can cook this along with the potatoes. Put the meatloaf on top and add 10 minutes after you’ve put the potatoes in…the taters take longer.) You can even garnish the cooked meatloaf with the Sriracha if everyone loves hot!

Gravy: Melt butter and add flour and make a roux, stir and cook for about 2 minutes on medium low to cook out the flour taste. Add the stock, by first adding about 1/3 C first and blending with a whisk, some salt and pepper, and a bit of Kitchen Bouquet gravy flavoring. Whisk well on medium high heat until slightly thick but not pasty. I add about 1 ½ C to get it to this point because as it sits while you wait to serve, it thickens, and you may want to thin it a bit with the remaining stock. Serve over meat and potatoes. Season as needed. (The choice of bullion is key. Some are salty and some are herbal. Judge the flavor yourself for extra seasoning.)



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