“Son Approved” Meatloaf

meatloaf in cast iron pan

Piping Hot Meatloaf Right Out Of The Oven

As some of my acquaintances know, I often don’t use a recipe. And even when I do use a recipe, to me it’s a “guideline” most of the time. For example, a recipe that calls for one clove of garlic, well… I’m more likely going with two or three! Some recipes that don’t have garlic on the ingredient list – when I’m cooking, garlic just might be added anyhow!

Meatloaf is not much different – never really followed an exact recipe, but tonight my son David thought meatloaf for dinner sounded good after several days in a row of turkey. So, I decided I would sort of keep track of what and how much of the ingredients I put into it.  Interestingly, my son thought it was one of the best meatloaf dinners that he’s ever had. His plate was pretty full as it was to start with, but he had seconds of the meatloaf. Thankfully, there’s enough left over that we can have it for lunch tomorrow as well.

Just like the banana bread, I like to bake meatloaf in my Lodge cast iron loaf pan. It’s big enough for the two of us, and with leftovers for the next day. But if I was cooking this for a larger group, I’d likely to have purchase more of the Lodge cast iron pans or resort to the larger size standard sandwich bread loaf pan.

Of course, you can do all sorts of things with meatloaf and I’m sure what I do is pretty standard, but for those that want to know pretty close to what I do, here it is:

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. approximately unfrozen ground beef (sometimes referred to as mince or mince meat)
  • 1 Medium sized onion, finely chopped (by the way, if you want to learn the best way to dice onions using a Chef knife, check out this free Complete Knife Skills Course with Brendan McDermott. (Yes, it’s FREE!).
  • A single stalk of celery (sometimes called rib as opposed to the whole “head” of celery) – finely sliced.
  • One full “bunch” of Green Onions, finely sliced.
  • 4 Garlic Cloves – minced.
  • 2 Teaspoons Himalayan Salt (Why Himalayan? Well… why not? It’s good!)
  • 1 Teaspoon ground Cardamom (This is enough to give a “hint” of cardamom to the finished meat loaf. You could use more).
  • 1 Teaspoon or so of ground black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon Lea & Perrin’s Sauce (Worcestershire Sauce)
  • 1/3 Cup of Ketchup (but also more for later on, as a “glaze” over the meatloaf before you put it in the oven. See method.)
  • 2 Eggs – Beaten
  • 1 Cup approximately Bread Crumbs.
  • Butter (How much? I dunno… you’re going to do some sauteing so read the method and add what you need! 🙂 ).

Method:

Grease loaf pan, put it in the oven to heat while the oven is pre-heating to 350F.

Prepare the onion, celery, garlic and green onions. Heat up a skillet and melt butter so it covers the surface of the skillet. Saute the onion, celery, garlic and green onions for several minutes.  If you need more butter, add more butter. Start with a tablespoon. I am sure I use more than that, however.

Add Ketchup, salt, pepper and cardamom to the vegetables.  Stir well, cook a few minutes longer and then remove from the burner and allow to cool.

In a bowl, add the ground beef and eggs. Then using a spatula, add the vegetable mixture to the bowl. Mix these ingredients well then slowly mix in the bread crumbs. Depending on how moist the mixture is, you may want to use a bit more – or less – of the breadcrumbs. I found a cup was perfect, this evening.

You want a fairly stiff mixture that you are going to scrape out of the bowl, using a spatula, into the loaf pan.  Press the mixture into the pan, and form a smooth top with the spatula.

Add more ketchup – enough to cover the ground beef mixture entirely – over the meatloaf. You just want a fairly thin coating of ketchup covering it all.

Bake in the pre-heated oven for 1 hour.

meatloaf slice

Moist and tasty meatloaf slice…

When you remove the meatloaf, set aside the pan on a surface where you can allow the meatloaf to sit for a good ten minutes. Although it will be smelling oh so very good, and you’ll be tempted to try to remove it from the pan and eat it right away, don’t. It needs ten minutes of cooling to set. So take those ten minutes to mash your potatoes and steam your broccoli and spinach (which is what we had, as well as carrots), or go set the table.

If you follow the above ingredients and method fairly close, you will have a very tasty and moist meatloaf that will be “kid approved!” And adults will enjoy it as well.

Additional Comments:

1. Meatloaf is one of those things that you can have lots of fun with and play around with spices, herbs, and many ingredients. However, if you have children, you have to bear their tastes in mind, and what they are expecting. I have all kinds of ideas that I want to try in a meatloaf, but I’m not going to do it when my son is hungry and he is looking forward to something he is familiar with.. although I do love to introduce him to new tastes and experiences in food – but in those cases, I am always prepared to fall back on something in case his first taste is so not what he was expecting, that he may “think” he does not like it.

I say “think” because often, tastes are judged on what we expect, especially when we’re younger. If you are expecting something to taste a certain way, but it does not, there could be the element of disappointment which comes across as “not liking it,” when in fact, the next time you taste, you discover you quite enjoy it. Taste then is often very much psychological as much as it is about our palette.

2. I can’t say enough about the FREE Complete Knife Skills Course with Brendan McDermott. I would say his lesson on cutting onions was time so very well spent! If you cut onions and find yourself “tearing up” up in the eyes, then you need to sign up for Brendan’s course. I thought I was pretty good with a Chef Knife.. getting tips along the way from others, but Brendan has shown me I had a lot to learn, and boy did I learn!  Did you know you can reduce the eye  tearing simply by using a specific method to cut up onions? Take the course! And learn more as well.

3. Don’t buy a complete knife set in the big box stores. They might seem like a “good deal,” but in reality, you should be investing in THREE high quality knife styles, and you may find different manufacturers suit you better for the particular style of knife you are using. For example, I have  used a variety of Chef Knives over the years, including supposed “high quality” Japanese, German and American.  About a year ago, I discovered the Wusthof Classic Ikon Chef’s Knife.  It’s a beauty, and far better quality than anything you will get in any of the big box stores’ “specials” – even on common “good reputation” brand name knives.

Having said that, I’m leaning toward a Messermeister serrated bread knife – not just for bread, but also for large waxy skinned vegetables and other  harder to handle cuts. I like the model that has a slight curve in the blade, so it will cut efficiently through things other than just artisan crusty bread. Can you think of pineapple and butternut squash?

4. Sometimes, I like diced garlic, and sometimes I like minced (or some call it “shredded”). Most people might use a garlic press. I discovered something much better, called the Garlic Twist.  I love this thing!

Let me know if you enjoyed this meatloaf recipe, and what you would do differently! I’m always interested in new ideas and trying new things!

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Home Made Jamaican Beef Patties

homemade jamaican pattyThe first time I ever had a Jamaican beef patty was about 28 years ago. I had been assigned to work a housing project in Toronto which also had a small variety (convenience) store almost on-site.   When I walked into the convenience store, I was quite curious about these pastry looking things that were being warmed in an appliance that looked to me like a multi layered toaster.  When I inquired about what they were, I was told they were “Beef Patties,” and finding out they were only 75 cents, I decided to try one.

Well, after that I was a regular Jamaican patty eater.  I soon found out that there were generally two varieties available – spicy and mild – and I liked them both.  Later, I became acquainted with a Jamaican family that were wonderful people, and I soon discovered that home made Jamaican beef patties were even better than those one could purchase ready to eat in convenience stores.

It’s been a long time since I’ve worked or even lived near Toronto so coming across these tasty ground beef mix inside a pastry snacks is rare, unless I buy them at the grocery store, where they are available in boxes of ten in the frozen food section. They are not as good as the ones I used to eat years ago, but they’re not bad and make for a quick snack. I had never thought to try making them myself until recently, when I came across a photo along with a recipe posted by Mr. Dave Leonard in a Cooking group that we are both members of, on Facebook.

As soon as I saw them, I just knew I had to give them a try!  There are probably quite a few different things you can do with the filling, and it’s quite possible that some Jamaicans might not agree that these are absolutely authentic if they are used to the more spicy beef patties.  But you can try your own thing although I’d recommend you stick with this recipe, or close to it, to start. It is quite delicious!

Another interesting thing about these is that when a good friend of mine from Argentina saw a photo, she referred to them as “Empanadas.” It seems that these pastry type snacks (or they could be full meals too for some) are quite common, with different ingredients being mixed in with the filling of ground beef.

I have very little experience shaping or baking pastries so mine may not have been as pretty as some others who make these regularly. But what the lacked in perfection as far aesthetics, they certainly tasted amazing.

How amazing? Well – I made ten of them today.  There is some curry powder in the recipe and in the past, my eleven year old son David has usually thumbed his nose at curry dishes, so I was a bit concerned he might not like them.  Not totally concerned mind you – “all the more for those that do like them!” is my motto when cooking delicious food that I like and others may not.

So out of the ten I made, how many are left? None!  David ate five and I ate five.  At his first bite, he was not so sure – but then he continued to eat the first patty I had offered him. Within 45 minutes later, and after “May I have another one, Dad?” he had filled his belly and exclaimed that he definitely wanted me to him more of them sometime. “Like, soon Dad!” So yes, they were that amazing.

I’m going to provide the original recipe Dave Leonard provided along with my own “modifications” in BOLD, which were slight:

INGREDIENTS:

Pastry Dough:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon tumeric
  • 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup shortening (I used lard instead of vegetable shortening)
  • 1/3 cup water (I needed a bit more water. I am not sure how much more, but with the original amount of 1/3 cup, I had a dough that was too dry to do much with. This is normal – different flours can often require different amounts of liquid for hydration. I just kept adding a bit more until I had a dough that did not flake and break apart on me).
  • 1 Egg, beaten ( optional – for a final egg wash – I did not do this step).

Filling:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper (I used finely ground white pepper).
  • 1/2 cup beef broth (I didn’t have any beef broth on hand, so used 1/2 teaspoon of OXO Beef powder in half cup of very hot water, well mixed).
  • 1/2 cup dry bread crumbs (I used homemade bread crumbs).
  • Three cloves of garlic, minced (Not in the Dave’s recipe, but I thought it would add a nice touch).

Method:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

Dough
In a large bowl, combine flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder, and pinch of salt.
Cut in 1/4 cup butter and shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
Stir in water until mixture forms a ball.
Shape dough into a log, and cut into 10 equal sections.
Roll each section into a six inch circle (approximately 1/8 inch thick).
Set aside.

(My notes: As mentioned above, I had to add more water.. splashing it in with the palm of my hand until I reached a consistency of dough that was not wet, but not so dry it didn’t hold together.

As well, I’ve no experience working with pastry – but I found that pressing down the sections with fingers first, and then using a rolling pin on each one worked well.  It’s possible that some may also have good results simply rolling out the entire dough if they have a large enough surface, and then using a wide mouthed glass as a sort of cookie cutter to make the individual patty sections.  My attempts at rolling out the sections into anything close to perfect circles was… poor. With practice though, I could likely get it better. Not that it really mattered. )

Filling

Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat.
Saute onion until soft and translucent.
Stir in ground beef.
Season with 1 teaspoon curry powder, thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper.
Cook until beef is evenly brown, stirring constantly.
Stir in beef broth and bread crumbs.
Simmer until liquid is absorbed.
Remove from heat.

(My Notes: I probably had medium ground beef and ended up with quite a bit of liquid fat after adding the ground beef and cooking it with the onion. I ended up pouring off a good deal of the fat. I probably would want to make sure I’m using extra-lean ground beef next time).

Preparation
Spoon equal amounts of filling into each pastry circle.
Fold over and press edges together, making a half circle.
Use a fork to press edges, and brush the top of each patty with beaten egg.
Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

(My Notes:

  • I’m not that great at estimating 6″ circles – some of my patty pastry sections were a bit bigger I am sure, while others were a bit smaller. Didn’t matter – you just kind of eyeball the amount of the filling you can use, and I got better at estimating with each one.
  • I also ended up probably using only about 2/3 of the ground beef filling.  However, I might have not filled the pastry as much as I could have and will experiment more.
  • I may also have drained off too much fat – the 1/3 of the filling that was left dried pretty quickly, but it’s in the fridge and I’m sure I will find some use for it tomorrow.
  • I also found that dipping the fork in water before pressing the edges of the pastry seemed to work better for me).

 

Other Things To Consider:

After making these with Dave’s recipe, my mind got to all sorts of things that one could do with the filling. For example – if you wanted spicier Jamaican patties, you could add some hot red chile powder or even add some diced fresh chile peppers.  Green onions or scallions would also be a great consideration if you have some of them. Paprika might also add a nice touch.  How about some chopped mushrooms? Dave even mentioned that there times he added left over mashed potatoes to the filling.

I’m thinking that with ground chick peas instead of the ground beef, you could muster up a wonderful vegetarian style of Jamaican patty as well – would be interesting to try and experiment with.

I imagine the recipe as Dave has provided above along with my addition of garlic might even end up with something you could freeze well, if you wanted to do more of these, all at once.  Whatever the case may be, I can assure you that these are far tastier than the ones you buy in the grocery store (if that’s what you do), and will be a real hit among friends and family.  They were absolutely delicious almost right out of the oven, as well as after they had cooled right off.

Let me know if you try this, your thoughts and your own modifications – and finally, a big huge thank you to Dave Leonard for providing his recipe in the first place! They are absolutely wonderful.

 

A Dinner For A Cold Night

chili

Chili Simmering In My Cast Iron Dutch Oven

Outside my door, the winds are howling and snow along with sleet is falling – or blowing around if you prefer. It’s not terribly cold but in the wind, it feels quite bitter. The same sort of weather is supposed to continue for a couple of days, and when the weather is like that, I enjoy something substantial that will warm my insides.

Time for chili! I have no clue if I make mine like other people to do. I have to admit that I do like it spicy, but not so spicy that I cannot enjoy it. Too much spice burns my mouth, makes me sweat, and takes away from all the other tastes in the meal. So I do like it spicy, but not where the heat overwhelms everything else.

As you can see from the photo, I love my cast iron! This is simmering at the moment on my stove and when I finish this post, I will be having a big bowl. Over rice. That is another thing about chili in my house – I’ve just always had it over rice. It was the way my mom made it and I’ve just continued doing the same thing.

I don’t really have a recipe for it, but it all starts with about a pound of ground beef. Along with that pound of beef, there are some other standards like 2 cans, 28 fluid ounces each of diced tomatoes.  Of course there are kidney beans, but I also use black beans in addition to the kidney beans. I just like it that way. As well, I used dried beans to start with. And again, I don’t measure – it’s all done by approximate memory.

Tonights Chili Ingredients:

  • Olive oil
  • Approx. 2 teaspoons cumin
  • Approx 2 teaspoons chili powder (or more, to taste)
  • Approx 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • Black beans
  • Red kidney beans
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • A few dashes of Franks Red Hot Sauce (I just like the additional subtle flavour it adds)
  • 3 Celery stalks, chopped
  • 1/2 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 Fresh tomato, diced (just because it was in the fridge and needed to be used)

Method:

First thing in the morning, soak kidney and black beans by bringing to a boil, then simmering for an hour. Turn off the heat and let them soak for at least another 8 hours.

Pour enough olive oil into dutch oven on stove burner and heat on medium heat. Add cumin, chili powder and cayenne pepper, stirring well.

Add salt, chopped onion and minced garlic. Then add the ground beef (mine was frozen ground beef) and brown thoroughly.

Add the two cans of tomatoes. Strain some of the water off the black and kidney beans that have been soaking and then add to the dutch oven. Stir well.

Add a few dashes of Franks Hot Sauce, then the celery, green pepper and fresh diced tomato.

Simmer for a couple of hours.

Enjoy either on it’s own, or as I do, over rice.

For me, there is no “right” way to make chili.  I am never exact with the ingredients, except I always use a pound of beef and two cans of diced tomatoes.  As the chili is cooking, I will taste it, make adjustments, sometimes add a bit more salt, or chili powder. Sometimes, if I have mushrooms, I’ll throw in some of those too.  And it always tastes good! Of course, I always make way too much for me to eat by myself at one sitting, but that’s ok. I keep some for the next day, and freeze the rest of it for another day!

Do you have a favorite recipe for chili that you always follow completely?