I’m not a huge red meat eater and beef is always the last thing I’ll order or make, however, I do love lamb. It’s more interesting than beef, slightly gamey and has a nice rich texture. My favorite way to enjoy lamb is in a meatloaf (my favorite way to enjoy anything is in a meatloaf).
This meatloaf is on the easy side as meatloaves go, because there is no sauteing of aromatics beforehand. The ingredients are simply chopped or pulsed raw in the food processor, then assembled. It can be assembled a couple of hours ahead, held in the fridge, then popped in the oven an hour-and-a-half prior to dinner.
A key element of this dish was inspired by my neighbor Beppi. (see “Why this blog” post). He makes a stuffing for turkey in which he soaks some white bread cubes in broth, then places the other ingredients in a food processor to combine. The soaked bread adds just the right amount of moisture to the stuffing, as it does for this meatloaf.
Another ingredient in this stuffing which is derived from Beppi (as well as my mother, in her meatballs) is seasoned commercial breadcrumbs (they use “Progresso Italian Seasoned” breadcrumbs). I use seasoned breadcrumbs made by my local gourmet market, “Citarella”.
Whether to bake covered or uncovered is another variable with which I’ve experimented. I find that my mother’s technique of covered, then uncovered-near-the-end works well to keep a little moisture in the loaf and a little juice in the pan.
I like to serve the meatloaf cold the next day, but if I want to re-heat it for dinner the next night, I make a simple tomato sauce in which to gently simmer the slices of cold meatloaf. To reheat two slices of meatloaf, place a cup of tomato sauce on the bottom of an eight-inch skillet, then the slices on top, then simmer , covered, on low heat for about ten minutes until the sauce bubbles. Serve with gnocchi.
The meatloaf keeps for at least four days and makes a great sandwich as well.
Along with the meatloaf, I served white beans with sage and sauteed swiss chard (from my freezer already cooked from the fall crop).
2 lbs ground lamb
1/2 c fresh mint leaves
1/2 c fresh parsley leaves
1/2 c fresh chives, chopped into 1″ batons
2 large eggs
4 slices white bread (can be stale)
1 c chicken broth (can be bouillon)
1/2 c seasoned breadcrumbs
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Soak bread in broth for at least ten minutes.
In food processor, chop mint, parsley, chives (pulse until they are coarsely chopped). Add bread/broth and process into a coarse mush (about fifteen seconds or so).
In a large mixing bowl, place the lamb, eggs, seasoned crumbs, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add bread and herb mush and mix with hands until well combined.
Turn into a rectangular baking dish and shape into a loaf.
Cover and bake for an hour, then uncover for about fifteen minutes.
It’s done when a meat thermometer reads 165 degrees.
Let rest at least ten minutes before slicing.
White Beans with Sage
1 lb canellini beans, soaked overnight
1 small bunch sage
4 tbl extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste (lots of both)
Place soaked and drained beans in dutch oven and cover with cold water by a couple of inches. Cover and bring to simmer slowly–try not to let it come to a rolling boil or the beans will not hold their shape. Simmer until beans are tender (about an hour–maybe more). Add salt about half-way through the cooking process and taste the beans and the cooking water until the water is salty enough.
Drain beans but keep the liquid for future reheating.
Place sage leaves (torn in half) in skillet of cold olive oil. Turn heat on low until leaves begin to simmer (about ten minutes). Add beans (half the batch–keep the rest in a bag in the freezer until next time) and simmer for about ten minutes in the sage and oil.
2 bunches swiss chard
4 tbl extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic cut in half
salt and pepper
Cut bottom 1″ off the swiss chard stems and discard. Slice the remaining stalks crosswise into 1/2″ to 1″ pieces from the bottom up. When you get to the leafy parts, keep slicing into 1″ ribbons so that there is a pile of stem pieces and a pile of leaf pieces. Soak in a deep mixing bowl of cold water so that the sand falls to the bottom. Gently lift the pieces out of the water and discard the water and repeat until there is no more sand remaining (usually twice but sometimes three times if the chard is really sandy).
Plunge leaves and stems all together in boiling salted water and boil for approximately 12 to 15 minutes, until the fattest stems are on the tender side of crisp. Drain in colander.
When ready to serve, brown the garlic in olive oil on low heat until golden. Add the swiss chard and saute for about 10 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper (lots).