Saturday, March 16, 2013

Salsa Meat Loaf for a Guiltless Friday Dinner

Sometimes Friday are "casual Fridays" where I want to make the easiest dishes that require the least amount of thought and effort. 

Sometimes Fridays are a little fancy.  After all, the weekend has arrived and I should celebrate.

This Friday was in between.  I wasn't looking for something extraordinary, but I had enough energy to put some time and effort in the meal.

I guess one could say the meal I ended up making was just sacreligious.  I think I felt my grandmother turning in her grave as I cooked and ate last night.  I do occasionally remember that it's Lent.  Much to Grandma's ghost's dismay (as well as to some of the rest of my family and friends) I'm afraid I don't observe that sort of thing anymore.

Still, it's hard not to think about how much it would have distressed Grandma to see me thumb my nose at the rules.  I remember eating dinner on Lenten Fridays at her house while I was growing up.  The meals were never very substantial.  It was always tuna salad (the only fish I could choke down in those days) or grilled cheese sandwiches.  I don't know why it never occurred to her to make something like a meatless pasta dish.  I would complain bitterly and ask why the Protestants ate what they wanted during Lent and presumably weren't sent to Hell for it. 

After taking that trip down memory lane, I feel a little guilty.  I don't feel guilty for what I had for dinner.  I feel guilty for not feeling guilty.

Anyway, after all of this pointless babble, what did I have for my not-fancy-but-not-overly-simple dinner?


Every time I ask my husband what he would like for dinner, if he can think of an answer, it's almost always something that contains ground meat.  He wants turkey burgers or chili or spaghetti and meatballs.  I thought it would be fun to combine some of those foods in to one new dish.  The blog needs a new recipe.

I mixed the best elements of chili - meat, chili powder, tomatoes, hot pepper, onions, and cumin - into a loaf form and baked it up.  It took less time than making a pot of chili (especially the way I make it) but it did take some effort with the chopping, shredding, and sauteeing needed to put the whole mess together. 

There are other many other recipes like it, but this one is mine.  I use ground chicken with almond flour as a binder.  If you prefer beef and more traditional bread crumbs, please feel free to experiment.  My meatloaf is quite soft.  My hatred of meatloaf in my early childhood came from the fact that I wasn't fond of those dry bricks of beef (even if the crispy edges were good).  I only liked meatballs because simmering in the sauce softened and flavored them more.  This is a very soft meatloaf due to eggs and a binder that isn't very dry.  If you like a firmer meatloaf, then definitely take to heart what I said about bread crumbs.

I liked this, but I thought it could use a little more spice.  I might double the amount the next time I make it.  Maybe I'll add another chili pepper or some chipotle powder.

Salsa Meat Loaf

  • 2 pounds ground chicken 
  • 2 Tbl olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, cored, seeded* and finely diced
  • 2-3 carrots (depending on size), shredded
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 2 tsp ancho chili powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 2 eggs
Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Heat olive oil in a frying pan.  Add onions and cook until soft.  Add garlic and cook another minute.  Add carrots and jalpeno.  Mix together cumin, chili powder, oregano and salt.  Add to pan and coat vegetables well, cooking until they are very fragrant and softened.  Remove from heat and allow to cool a few minutes.

Mix the onion mixutre together in a large bowl with the tomatoes.  Taste for seasoning here.  Make sure you like the amount of salt and spice and then add the chicken and the eggs.  Mix gently until combined.

Grease a loaf pan and gently pour your turkey mixture into it.

Bake for for about 75-90 minutes.


Rosemary said...

Feeling guilty about not feeling guilty? Great line. I, too, have not so fond memories of Lenten Friday meals, but since I love seafoodanyhow, I observe. It's no sacrifice!

Emily said...

This sounds good! I've never made a meat loaf before. I have made a grilled cheese, though. You're right - they're not very substantial. I have to eat a lot of them to get full.

Sue said...

That is a really interesting recipe. I thought you were going to make meatloaf and just throw salsa on top of it before you baked it. I've never added canned tomatoes TO the mixture, just on top. (I usually add a few big squirts of ketchup.) I'm thinking if you want more zing, maybe don't cook the onions first. OR cook half with all the spices and stuff, but save half to add raw to the meatloaf before it bakes.

I hope your hubby appreciates you slaving over a hot stove!

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Rosemary - It's tough to be Italian and hate seafood. Too many fish holidays. :-D

Emily - I don't want to think about how many grilled cheese sandwiches I might eat in one sitting if given a chance. There is a place near my office that specializes in nothing but grilled cheese and I don't dare go near it.

Sue - I'm always afraid if I don't cook the onions first they will take the dish in the opposite direction and be too strong. I suppose I could have grated them. Perhaps the next time.

Putting the tomatoes in the loaf did make it kind of soft, which some people might not like. It was firmer the next day though.

He does appreciate the work. I make sure he does! ;-)