Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Loafing Around

One of the best hot meals for fall is meatloaf. It's an easy cook and it offers creativity.Add this,subtract that, Anyone can master it, from novices to old pros. Best of all it is great left over as a sandwich.

Meat loaf has been around since ancient Roman times and was featured in French cooking in the 1600's. The Germans and Amish brought it to the states in the 1700's here it remains a staple. It has its' origins in scrapple a mixture of  corn meal  and ground pork. Almost every country has their take on it. The Italians call it polpettone and put ham, eggs and cheese in it while the Middle Easterners call it kefta and sub in lamb for the beef. The Vettnamese boil theirs and call it gio. South Africans spice up their  loaves or bobeti with curry, dried apricots  and almonds. They then cover it
with  a whipped egg and milk topping, sort of like a meringue.Americans fill ours with everything  from Saltines, cereal grains and bread, a hold over from the Great Depression when meat and money were scarce. Adding wheat products gave it consistency and made it filling. it's usually served with ketchup . There is a meat loaf sauce, surprisingly, made from ketchup and brown. sugar. Barbecue sauce can be added to the recipe or just served on the side to give it more tang. Some recipes call for hard boiled eggs and gherkins to be included to give the loaf color and flavor.

The recipe is an  easy one that even the most novice of home chefs can follow and create a successful dinner. Basic meat loaf takes a pound and a half o f good ground beef along with one egg for binding and a cup of milk for smoothness.There's also a cup of dried bread crumbs for consistency (without it , it would be too crumbly and fall apart) along with one chopped onion. This recipe can be varied. For fun , try a Tex-Mex style that has a combination of chopped chili peppers and chili powder. Grated cheddar cheese is sprinkled over the top for color and flavor. The slices can be served on a bed of tortilla chips along with some hot sauce for extra fire. For a more grown up version add  three quarters of a cup of dry red wine along with cremini mushrooms. This recipe also calls for thyme, rosemary and garlic. Try this type of meat loaf with wild rice or a simple tomato risotto. if you don;t want to use ground beef, then think ham loaf. This is a yummy mix of ground smoked ham and pork mixed with chopped celery and red pepper. There are still breadcrumbs used as a binder along with two eggs. The spicing is nutmeg and allspice for more verve.Serve with apple rings or applesaucef for a nice autumnal dinner.

Meat loaf may be considered basic but it's a delicious blend of complex  flavors and textures.It is one of the tastiest and easiest recipes to make. Keep to the recipe or add your own spin on it, the result is always a tasty slice.

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