Thursday, April 28, 2011

My Damascene Moment

Like Paul of Tarsus on his fateful journey to Damascus, there I was, just walking the dog on our usual route up the hill, throwing in a set of stairs to get some cardio. Unlike Paul, I had my feet on solid ground so wasn't knocked off my horse and blinded when the revelation hit. And, truth be told, my bombshell was of a more pedestrian variety.

The clouds had parted, the rays from the sun shone down and it was revealed to me what we were going to have for dinner. Yes, dinner. Thus, instead of running out to preach the gospel, I jumped in Chili and ran to the store, because in that miraculous moment of inspiration I saw…meatloaf.

Now if that seems like a let-down in the pantheon of revelation stories, perhaps even showing a slight lack of imagination on the part of the revelatee, let me tell you that when you're the person responsible for making your family dinner every night, you're happy for any and all inspirations, holy or otherwise.

And the result? As you can see from the photo above, it was moist, meaty and oh-so-satisfying, and went perfectly with the mashers and salad served alongside. And the songs of praise from the assembled throng (well, Dave and our son and the dogs, anyway) was heavenly, indeed.

Fennel and Kale Meatloaf

2 Tbsp. oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped fine
4 anchovy filets
1 bulb fennel, chopped into 1/4" dice
2 c. kale, sliced into chiffonade
1 lb. hamburger
1 lb. ground pork
1 egg
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. bread crumbs
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh herbs (or 1-2 tsp. dried) like cilantro, oregano, basil or whatever strikes your fancy

Preheat oven to 350°.

Heat oil in skillet and sauté onion and garlic till transparent. Add anchovies and sauté till filets dissolve. Add fennel and sauté till tender. Add kale and continue sautéing till wilted. Remove to flat pie plate and chill in refrigerator while you prepare the meat mixture.

Combine ground meat, egg, milk, bread crumbs, salt, pepper and herbs in large mixing bowl. Combine thoroughly with spoon, fork or your hands (don't squish it but keep your fingers open like a fork…you want a loose mixture, not a solid mass). Add chilled vegetable mix and combine. Hand-form into loaf on roasting pan. Bake 45 min.-1 hr. until instant-read thermometer inserted in thickest part reads between 140-150° (cookbooks all say 160°, but I find that results in drier meatloaf, so you decide for yourself). Remove from oven, tent with foil and allow to rest for 15-20 min. while you mash potatoes and make the salad. Slice and serve.

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