The Most Comfortable of Comfort Foods

I’ve always been fascinated with the concept of “comfort foods”, how eating has such an emotional effect on us, how it brings us joy, elevates our moods and drains the stress from us at the end of a hectic day. Ask most of us to name our 3 favorite gourmet meals, and we hesitate, our brains having difficulty pulling up answers. Asked to name our 3 favorite comfort meals, we instantly respond, recalling meals from our childhood.  Macaroni and cheese, Mom’s lasagna, Aunt Madeline’s Cherry Cobbler…foods fixed in our emotions and memories.

While my culinary training is French, I spend considerable time creating, recreating, comfort foods for my clients. This is one of the most requested.

My Take on Meatloaf
Serves 4

2 green onions, chopped fine
1/2C celery, chopped fine
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped fine
1T garlic, minced
2T butter, unsalted
1 1/2t salt
1t cumin
1t ground black pepper
1/8t nutmeg
2 bay leaves
1/2C  ketchup
1/2C milk
1 pound ground beef, extra lean
1 pound ground pork
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2t Worchestershire sauce
1 1/2t Tabasco, or to taste

Preheat oven 350.

Melt butter in medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add green onion, green pepper, celery and garlic. Cook until softened, (this process is called “sweating”) about 5 minutes. Stir in salt, cumin, pepper, nutmeg and bay leaves. Cook one minute, stirring. Add ketchup and milk. Simmer for about 2 minutes, take off heat, remove bay leaves. Set aside.

In a bowl, combine beef, pork, eggs, Worchestershire sauce and Tabasco. Add the vegetable mixture, mix until well blended (this is best done using your hands).

Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray; set on a cookie sheet. By hand, divide the mixture into large meatballs and place in the muffin tin.www.zimbio.com

Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until the temperature registers 160 degrees. Cool for about 5 minutes. Using a pair of tongs, or two soup spoons, remove the meatloaf from the tins to a platter. Serve family style.

Notes:

You can substitute half  & half for the milk for a bit more smooth texture.

Using a muffin tin instead of a loaf pan cuts down on the cooking time considerably. It also produces a healthier meal as a lot of the fats are driving up and out, instead of sitting on the bottom of a traditional loaf pan. This is why it’s smart to place the muffin tin on a cookie sheet.

I like to serve this up with traditional mashed potatoes and steamed green beans.

Don’t expect leftovers.

Muffin tin pic courtesy of http://www.zimbio.com

Kent McDonald is a Certified Personal Chef, living and working in Phoenix, AZ. (c) All Rights Reserved, 2009

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