Monday, December 22, 2008

Rosemary Meatloaf and Creamy Dreamy Mashed Potatoes

Meatloaf was always one of those American dishes that I never understood growing up. I always thought that maybe it was just one of those things that unless you were born and raised here, you wouldn't understand. I mean just the name of the dish makes me nauseous. I love meat, but in a loaf? Yuck! It wasn't until very recently that I actually developed a taste for the darn loaf! I have had some nasty meat loafs in my time. Some dry, some mushy, some just looked like mystery meat. Ehhhhhk. It wasn't until a few months ago that I developed a liking to this American classic. I was at a catering event and I tried the meatloaf. (On an ordinary basis I wouldn't, but I respected the chef so I figured that was the least I could do.) I was pleasantly surprised by how beautiful the little mini meat loafs looked. You see they were passed appetizers and they were perfect. The top had a beautiful crust on it and the inside....mmmmmmmmmm...delicious! It was moist and so flavorful! I instantly tasted fresh herbs in there.
I went home that night determined to make a delicious meatloaf.
I have made and remade several recipes. However, my latest one is by far the most flavorful and successful. It has all the components I was looking for.
I paired it up with the perfect and in my opinion the only side dish to go with meatloaf: mashed potatoes.
Now I have tried many, many different recipes for mashed potatoes, but this one is truly the perfect one for meatloaf, or anything else for that matter. It is simple enough that it does not take away the emphasis off of the main star of the plate but it is also so delicious that you will find your self licking the bowl, spoon and plate clean. (I did.)

I made this tonight, on one of the coldest nights we have had yet and while I had only a taste of both, (I am ATTEMPTING to watch my diet) my fiancee consumed every morsel on his plate and asked for more! It is a perfect meal for these cold nights in the winter when all you want to do is eat something yummy and go sip tea or hot chocolate on the couch.

Rosemary Meatloaf

5 pounds ground beef (I used lean chuck)
1 large yellow onion, finely diced
5 ribs of celery, finely diced
3 medium sized carrots, finely diced
3 tablespoons rosemary, chopped finely
1/2 cup ketchup
2/3 cup sour cream
salt and pepper to taste
olive oil to sautee

Preheat your oven to 375-degrees

*It is very important that you chop up these veggies finely. You want them to be seen but you also want them to melt into the meat. The only way to achieve that is to get a very fine dice. I will be posting soon on how to easily dice your most popular veggies.*
1. Combine all veggies in a sautee pan with a bit of salt and pepper and sautee until softened, about 8-10 minutes. You do not want them to brown just soften.

2 Add ketchup, sour cream, rosemary and seasonings to meat. Combine.
3. Add cooked veggies to the meat mixture and combine. *You can cool the veggie mixture so that it is easier to handle. I used rubber gloves and combine everything by hand while hot.*
4. Oil a pan that has a drip pan on the bottom, you almost want to roast the meatloaf. The perfect crust will only be achieved if there is no moisture surrounding the loaf, otherwise it will steam in its own juices and will not get a crust (trust me, I did this the first time around).
5. Place meat on the pan and shape it into a loaf shape. It does not have to be perfect. Just make sure that there are no cracks on the surface and that it is smooth.
6. Put it in the oven for 1 hour or until an internal thermometer reads 155-degrees.
7. Once it is done cooking, let it rest for at least 15 minutes.
*If your top did not crust up, just put the loaf under the broiler for 10-15 minutes and it will develop a beautiful crust.

The Perfect Gravy

I'll be honest, unless it's a holiday, I don't make gravy. But you have to with this dish, it practically screams for it! It looked naked without it!
Now I did not measure anything because I made it on a whim. But I will tell you what I put in it and you can make this without any measurements, it's not like we're baking anything!
I started out with the juices from the meatloaf. I poured some of those off into a sauce pan and added about 3 tablespoons of flour. Then I whisked vigorously to get rid of all the lumps. Into there I poured in some white wine, some beef base. It started getting kinda thick so I added in some chicken stock and whisked some more until it coated the back of a spoon. At the last minute I added in some freshly chopped rosemary and that was it! I promise it's just a bit of thickening and thinning, nothing else! If it gets too thick just add stock and if it's not thick enough add a bit more flour. That's the magic to a good gravy! Just be careful to add the flour a little at a time and remember it only gets thickened once it boils.

Creamy, Dreamy Mashed Potatoes

5 pounds potatoes, peeled, cut and washed
1 stick of butter
1 cup of half and half
3/4 cup sour cream
salt and pepper to season

1. Boil potatoes until they are fork tender.
2. In a small saucepan, melt the butter with the half and half on a low flame; keep warm.
3. Strain the potatoes so that there is not water left.
4. For the actual mashing process, I have found that using a food mill is by far the most effective way to get the creamiest mashed potatoes, with minimal effort. If you do not have a food mill then use a smasher or a mixer if you have it.

5. Add all the sour cream and half of the butter mixture to the potatoes. Combine and see the consistancy. Add in more butter and half and half if necessary. I like mine super creamy so I added it all in. Just add it in a bit at a time so the potatoes get a chance to absorb the liquids.

6. Taste for seasonings. Place a generous amount on a plate, load up with a few slices of meatloaf and drizzle some gravy on top!
That's it...NOW EAT!

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