18 May 2015

Eats: mini meatloaf

Before I tell you what I have for you today, I want to thank you all for the sweet words (in the comments section and elsewhere) regarding last Friday’s post. Really, I appreciate them, and you for saying them. I don't want to become a full-fledged mommyblogger, but when I told Mr. P that my feelings seem underrepresented on the internet, he replied, "You have a blog." So there you go. You can love your kid and be a good mom without waxing poetic about how amaaaazing "mommyhood" is! I said it.

Okay! As I write up this recipe a few days before posting, it’s a dreary rainy weekend, the kind that makes me want to snuggle in a fleecy blanket, the kind of day that makes me want to slip on a hoodie and put chili on this week’s menu. Of course, it’s actually 70 degrees outside, but still. It’s almost summer, it just doesn’t look that way.

And then by the time this post goes live, it’ll almost certainly be sunny and sweltering, and you are all going to roll your eyes that I’m posting about MEATLOAF. But I’m sorry. I am bad at blog timing, remember?!

But it’s not as ridiculous as it seems, I promise! These mini meatloaves (original recipe here) are full of fresh veggies, making them lighter than a big chunk of meat, and they pair perfectly with grilled summer vegetables. Because they’re mini, they don’t take as long to bake as a big meatloaf, so you don’t have to make your air conditioner battle it out with your oven. And finally, if your upcoming summer months are as insane as mine, you’re gonna want to make a big batch of these and pop them in your freezer, to defrost and heat up for quick dinners later.

So I have bad timing, but maybe it’s not as crazy as it seems? Ah well. Let’s make meatloaf in May!

We start with breadcrumbs. Sure, we could use store-bought. I have always used store-bought... until now. I put two torn-up slices of sandwich bread (crusts and all) in my food processor and BAM:

YOU. GUYS. I am embarrassed to say that I had no idea making breadcrumbs could be so simple. I thought the bread had to be stale, or a certain kind of bread, or I don’t even know. But no. Sandwich bread in a food processor! I am never buying breadcrumbs again.

Now that the food processor is out, let’s mince up some veggies! I used about six baby carrots, a rib of celery, and a teaspoon each of minced garlic and dried onion (because yes, I am lazy and never purchase real onion or garlic).

Give them a whirl until they’re all finely chopped:

Then put the veggies in a skillet with olive oil, and cook them over medium heat until they start to brown. Do not dump the veggies in with the breadcrumbs so that you have to carefully scrape them back out and into the skillet. Not that I would know from experience. Ahem. Just ignore those breadcrumbs in the skillet below.

While the veggies are cooking, add two eggs, a tablespoon of tomato paste, a teaspoon each of Dijon and paprika (I didn’t have smoked paprika like in the source), a couple tablespoons of Worcester sauce, a half-cup of milk, and a quarter-cup of parsley. Just, uh, ignore those bits of uncooked carrots that aren’t supposed to be in there.

Mix that up with two pounds of ground beef, then stir in the veggies once they’re cooked.

Ok! Set that aside for a minute now, because we gotta make some glaze. I made it because I was in this thing (I mean, I’d already used the food processor twice), so might as well go all out! And it is all out – you gotta add four teaspoons of vegetable oil, a quarter-cup of tomato paste, two tablespoons of cider vinegar (I subbed wine vinegar), a tablespoon of honey, two teaspoons of Worcestershire sauce, and a teaspoon of Dijon. WHEW.

Whisk those together and simmer for just a few minutes.

In the end, I basically just congratulated myself for making my own ketchup. Brightly flavored, yes, but basically ketchup none the less. If you skip this step and just add ketchup instead... I won’t judge.

Ok! Now it’s time to form the mini meatloaves. Because I am a dainty lady who doesn’t like digging my hands in raw beef, I used a measuring cup and to scoop and form them. Aim for a big meatball – you should get a dozen out of this recipe, maybe a few more.

Place the mini loaves in a rimmed baking pan and top each with a dollop of glaze:

I think you’re maybe not supposed to use ALL the glaze here, like maybe you reserve some for after baking? Whatever, I used it all. It worked.

Put the pan in a preheated oven and bake for about 22 minutes. Just 22 minutes! See, totally summer-meatloaf worthy. When they’re done:

Yes, grease everywhere, but still: look how pretty those are! I’d never think meatloaf could be pretty, but the green parsley and orange carrot and red tomato makes it seem like more than just a big chunk of beef.

These may be my new favorite sort of meatloaf, you guys! Despite that photo up there, they really aren’t greasy at all, yet they’re still unbelievably moist. And as with all good meatloaf, they’re delicious with a classic side of mashed potatoes:

But as I said, they’d pair well with whatever veggie you want to put on the side. And they freeze and reheat well, because they’re small and not, you know, an entire loaf. So you can turn on your oven once and stock your freezer for easy dinner for the rest of the summer! I still have half a can of tomato paste and that’s exactly what I'm going to do with it. Enjoy!