All-beef mini meatloaves

Another confession: Until I tried this recipe on a whim last year, I’m pretty sure I’ve never liked meatloaf. As a teenager, I didn’t care for the crunchy chunks of veggies hiding inside or the one-note ketchup-based glaze on top. Then as an adult when I stopped eating pork, it was challenging to find a pork-free version.

When I decided to make this recipe I was struggling to find something new to cook with ground beef and was flipping through multiple cookbooks, including Deb Perelman’s excellent The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook. It hit all the marks. It’s all-beef (✓), includes aromatics that are finely processed and sautéed first to prevent the dreaded veggie crunch (✓), and has nary a drop of bottled ketchup in sight (✓)! Kismet, right? And, she paired it with brown butter buttermilk mashed potatoes. I mean COME ON! It’s perfection.

Note: Half this recipe to yield just enough for 2 people. It yields 6 4-ounce meatballs. I served with mashed potatoes and salad and had 2 meatballs leftover.

Deb Perelman’s Tomato-Glazed Meatloaves with Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes
Like presumably all the recipes in the cookbook, Perelman has not published this one on her site. I’ve only searched for a handful of them, but none came up.
Serves 6

Glaze

  • 4 teaspoons  vegetable oil
  • ¼ cup (65 grams) tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon table salt

Mini meatloaves

  • 2 slices sandwich bread
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 medium stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • Olive oil for cooking
  • 1 teaspoon table salt, plus more for vegetables
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 pounds (905 grams) ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ cup (120 ml) milk
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 large eggs

Combine glaze ingredients in a small saucepan and simmer, whisking constantly, for 2 minutes. Set aside.

Preheat your oven to 350°. Tear the bread into chunks and then blend it, in a food processor, into breadcrumbs. Place the breadcrumbs in a large bowl. Add the onion, garlic, celery, and carrot to the food processor, and pulse it until they are finely chopped.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once the skillet is hot, coat the bottom with olive oil, and heat the oil for a minute; add the finely chopped vegetables. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until they begin to brown, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Add the vegetables to the large bowl with breadcrumbs, then add the remaining ingredients. Stir the ingredients together with a fork. With wet hands, form the mixture into twelve 3-inch meatballs; each will weigh about 4 ounces.

Space meatballs so that they are not touching, in a baking dish. Drizzle or brush each meatball with a teaspoon or so of the tomato glaze you made earlier, and bake until cooked through, about 20 minutes. (An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of a cooked meatball will register 160° to 165°.)

Serve with additional glaze on a bed of brown butter mashed potatoes.

Brown Butter Mashed Potatoes

  • 2 pounds (905 grams) Yukon gold potatoes
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (4 ounces, 115 grams, or 1 stick), melted and browned
  • 1 cup (235 ml) buttermilk
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons table salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper

In a large pot, melt the butter over medium-low heat. It will melt, then foam then turn clear golden, and finally start to turn brown and smell nutty. Stir frequently, scraping up any bits from the bottom as you do. Don’t take your eyes off the pot: You may be impatient for it to start browning, but the period between the time the butter begins to take on color and the point where it burns is often less than a minute. As soon as the butter take son a nutty color, turn off the heat and set aside.

Place the potatoes in a medium saucepan, and cover with cold water. Bring to boil over high heat, and once it’s boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes depending on your potato size; the potatoes are ready when a paring knife or cake tester can be inserted into the center with little resistance. Drain the potatoes, and wipe the pot dry.

Peel the potatoes – I find that holding one in a pot-holdered hand and using a paring knife with the other is easiest. Run the fully peeled potatoes through a food mill or potato ricer (if using the latter no need to peel first), then return the mashed potatoes to your emptied saucepan. Add browned butter, buttermilk, salt, and black pepper to taste. Do your best not to eat it all before guests arrive. 

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