Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Amazing Glazed All-Beef Meat Loaf

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Amazing Glazed All-Beef Meat Loaf
Serves: 6-8
Difficulty Level: Easy
Amazing Glazed All-Beef Meat Loaf 
This is a surprisingly great all-beef meatloaf. Most meat loafs are a combination of beef, pork and veal – with each having an important role leading to the end result. Beef contributes the assertive beefiness, while pork adds flavor and extra fattiness. With the addition of veal, it is mostly about the gelatin – which has a viscous natural water-retaining quality that helps keep the meat loaf moist. Gelatin is formed when collagen, the protein in the cow connective tissue, breaks down during cooking. Collagen in calves (the source of veal) is more loosely structured, and therefore converts to gelatin more readily as compared to adult cows. In this all-beef meat loaf recipe, the gelatinous qualities of veal are replicated by the addition of powdered gelatin.

In meat loaf, gelatin, as a pure protein, has a stabilizing effect, making it harder for water and other liquids to be forced out by suspending the liquids in its mesh-like matrix. In meat loaf, then, gelatin helps by decreasing the amount of liquid leaking from the meat and improves the textural feel by making the liquids more viscous. This viscosity translates to a luxuriant texture in the mouth – mouth-feel – much like reduced stock or demi-glace – and greater richness.

Lastly, by forming a free-form “loaf pan”, one can avoid allowing the meat to stew in its own juices which makes for a greasy mess and a greasy loaf. Meat loaf baked in a traditional loaf pan exposes only one side of the meat loaf to the browning heat.  By opting for the free-form loaf, one achieves an all-over browned crust.

Meat Loaf:
  • 4 oz Monterey Jack cheese, grated on SMALL holes of box grater (1 C) (see pic below)
  • 1 Tb unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped fine (about 1 C)
  • 1 medium rib celery, chopped fine (about ½ C)
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced or pressed thru a garlic press
  • 2 tsp minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ¼ C tomato juice
  • ½ C chicken broth
  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ tsp unflavored gelatin (powdered)
  • 1 Tb soy sauce
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2/3 C crushed saltine crackers
  • 2 Tb minced fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1-pound ground sirloin
  • 1-pound ground chuck 
  • ½ C ketchup
  • 1 tsp hot pepper sauce
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • ¼ C apple cider vinegar
  • 3 Tb packed light brown sugar
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat to 375-degree F. Spread cheese on a plate and place in freezer until ready to use.
Finely grated cheese...use the SMALL holes in the grater!
Prepare your baking sheet by making a free-form loaf pan. Fold heavy-duty aluminum foil to form a 12 by 8-inch rectangle. Center the foil on a metal cooling rack and place the rack over a rimmed baking sheet.  Poke holes in the foil with skewer (about half an inch apart).  Spray the foil with a nonstick cooking spray.
Foil with holes punched in it
Heat butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until foaming; add onion and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to brown, 6-8 minutes.  Add garlic, thyme and paprika and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Reduce heat to low and add tomato juice.  Cook, stirring to scrape up browned bits from the pan, until thickened, about 1 minute. Transfer mixture to a plate and set aside to cool.
Resting the fixins'....
Whisk broth and eggs in a large bowl until combined. Sprinkle gelatin over the liquid and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in soy sauce, mustard, saltines, parsley, salt, pepper and cooled onion mixture. Crumble frozen cheese into coarse powder and sprinkle over mixture. Add ground sirloin and chuck; mix gently with hands until thoroughly combined, about 1 minute. 

Adding the fixins' to the meat

Transfer meat to foil rectangle and shape into a 10 by 6-inch oval about 2 inches high. Smooth top and edges of meat loaf with a moistened spatula.  Bake until an instant-read thermometer into center of loaf reads 135-140-degrees, 55-65 minutes. Remove meat loaf from oven and turn on broiler.
Shaped into a "loaf"
While meat loaf cooks, combine ingredients for glaze in a small saucepan; bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook, stirring until thick and syrupy, about 5 minutes. 
The glaze for the meatloaf
Spread half of glaze evenly over cooked meat loaf with rubber spatula; place under broiler and cook until glaze bubbles and begins to brown at edges, about 5 minutes. 

Remove meat loaf from oven and spread evenly with remaining glaze; place back under broiler and cook until glaze is again bubbling and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes more. Let meat loaf cool about 20 minutes before slicing.
How it should look when it is ready!
If you cannot find chuck and/or sirloin, substitute any 85% lean ground beef. To avoid using a broiler, glaze the loaf in a 500-degree F oven and increase cooking time for each interval by 3 minutes.

Whatever you do, make this meat loaf.  You will be amazed.


Modified from Cooks Illustrated, Jan. 2006

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