Yep, meatloaf. I have never liked the generic dish called “meatloaf”, but I just got involved in a Farmer’s Market sort of pastured “Meatshare”, and close to half the meat is.. ground meat.
I don’t want to stuff peppers or make hamburgers for the extent of this 6-month membership (monthly pick-up), much as I love stuffed peppers (if you haven’t noticed), so I decided to revisit meatloaf. Yep.
I’ve had wonderfully-seasoned meatloaf, but it has always been the bread/loaf part of the dish that bothered me. As if it really didn’t need to be there, and detracted from the menu, by drying out perfectly good meat. Now that I know that a lot of folks eat grain- (or at least, wheat-) free a lot of the time, I’m free to let my imagination run wild. We don’t really need to put bread in our ground meats. We can EXPLORE. Maybe something else will turn up. (There’s a thought: mashed turnip?)
Also, maybe another time I will experiment with cauliflower. This time, however, it is sweet potato. I got a really nice one from the Litchfield Farmers’ Market today. Onion, sweet potato, and ground beef. (You can experiment with other types of ground meat if you like. I know it is kind of traditional to mesh beef and pork into it, but this share is only about the beef.)
1 large sweet potato. This one was 400 grams on my scale, 350 once I peeled it and removed the ends. I cooked it all, but used approximately 200 grams in my recipe, reserving the rest for other things. Slice it up in about quarter inch thick slivers so this doesn’t take forever to prep. Oh, if you wan to keep the peel on, that’s okay, too. This one was a bit knobby so off it went.
1 pound more or less of ground beef (or whatever). This one was a little less.
1/2 or so of a small onion (1/4 or so of a large one), diced to whatever level suits you. It doesn’t have to be fine.
1.5 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
Rosemary leaves, to taste (judge by the freshness of your source. Store bought is fine.)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (this is to honor the sweet potato in the final dish – the spice marries well to sweet potato, as does rosemary, I believe.)
1/4-1/2 teaspoon powdered mustard
1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
Pre-heat oven to 450, and chop up your sweet potato to the approximately 1/4 or so inch slivers. Put them in foil, mix in the oil and rosemary, and wrap them up. Bake them for about 30 minutes. This is the step that makes this take longer than the traditional bread crumb method.
Towards the end of that time, mix up everything else by hand. Break up and add the sweet potatoes (you can mash them more than I did), mix further, and reduce oven temp to 350 F. Only about 200 grams of the sweet potatoes, as a reminder. Your best bet is to use one of those mini-loaf pans and coat lightly with oil. I do not have one so I fashioned my “pan” out of heavy-duty foil, and set it inside another pan.
Do not cover. Cook at 35o F in the oven for one hour. Serve with lettuce, or other green veggies, raw or steamed.
It does not hold together quite as well as a wheat-based meatloaf, but it does taste moister, which I appreciate. It doesn’t taste exactly like meatloaf, but close enough, and nutritious to boot. The meat is very lean — I suspect ground lamb in such a dish would be more greasy than I’d want.
Makes three servings.
Optionally, you can top this with the stereotypic ketchup before baking it, or better yet, a thick homemade tomato sauce with garden herbs. I didn’t, this go-round.