french market meatloaf

Sometimes, you can’t help but feel bad for a certain food, or entree, or combination of the both. I hate to say it, but meatloaf is probably up there on the list. Poor renditions of it in the school lunch line, or dry and overcooked because of poor preparation, it’s no wonder that so many people have an aversion to it. Today, I’ve made it my personal mission to vindicate this dish. To give it a new, tasty spin – so moist and full of flavors, you’ll want to make this again and again.

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I spent a lot of time digging through my archives, searching and searching for the perfect recipe (or combination thereof) to make for dinner one chilly night not too long ago. I have more recipes that I care to admit ::read, it’s a lot:: so I settled in and got to work. I knew that I wanted something slightly different than usual – more than just the classic combination of Worcestershire sauce, ketchup, simple herbs, and bread crumbs. I wanted flavor!…bright herbs, clean flavors, and most importantly, a juicy, tender bite. I do have a reputation to maintain, no? I couldn’t very well steer you wrong. I was determined to make this right. If it meant going out of my comfort zone, then so be it.

As you all know, I have a tendency for cooking mostly with ground turkey or chicken; red meat really isn’t a high priority for me. But sometimes, you gotta do what you gotta do…and for this, I had to. A lone pack of ground sirloin had made its way into our grocery cart earlier on, and I figured “why not?” Sirloin is great, and the slightly higher fat content makes it a great base for meatloaf. I had opted for a 90/10 package, so the decision was made. And besides, I told myself, a little red meat is good for you once in awhile. Not only is red meat high in protein (shocker), it supplies a good amount of the recommended daily dose of iron (2.4 mg in a 3-ounce serving), zinc (which helps to build muscle mass), and B vitamins (helping to support a healthy body and healthy immune system).

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Once I stumbled on this title “French Market Meatloaf”…I was immediately intrigued. Looking closer, I began running through my mental checklist for what I wanted to achieve with this dish:

-full of flavor? CHECK.

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-will it stay moist? CHECK.

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-different and unusual ingredients? CHECK,PLUS.

Boom, a winner was found.

~~~

French Market Meatloaf {recipe adapted from Southern Living}

serves 4

Ingredients:

1 medium onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp. dried thyme

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 tsp. dried basil

1/2 tsp. rosemary

1 lb. ground sirloin {I used a 90/10 ratio}

1/4 C. chicken stock

1/4 C. tomato sauce {I used an organic tomato and basil pasta sauce, which I thought worked fabulously}

1 Tbsp. tomato paste

1/4 C. breadcrumbs

1 large egg, lightly beaten

salt & pepper, to taste

Tomato Gravy

To Prepare:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place a cooling rack atop the sheet, and spray liberally with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

Cook the first six ingredients in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, stirring often, 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and cool.

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Stir together the ground sirloin and next five ingredients in a large mixing bowl, being careful not to overmix (you don’t want to make the meat too tough!). Fold in the cooled vegetable mixture. Shape meat and vegetable mixture into a rectangular-shaped loaf, and place atop the stacked cooling rack/baking sheet. Bake 40 to 50 minutes, or until the meatloaf is no longer pink in the center, and let cool for 10 minutes.

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…while the meatloaf is cooking, let’s make the Tomato Gravy.

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp. butter

2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

1/3 C. chicken stock

1 (8-ounce can) of tomato sauce {I used the same organic tomato and basil pasta sauce I used in the meatloaf}

1/2 to 1 tsp. dried basil

salt & pepper, to taste

To Make: {I recommend doing this with about 15 minutes left of meatloaf cooking time}

Melt butter in a small saucepan; whisk in flour and cook, whisking constantly, for about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in stock and tomato sauce; reduce heat, and simmer until thickened. Whisk in dried basil, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep covered over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the meatloaf is done and ready to plate.

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I love to serve this atop a bed of steamed vegetables; I really like how the flavor of the meatloaf and the gravy seems into them. All flavors merry so well together, resulting in the perfect bite. And if you’re lucky enough to have leftovers, the meatloaf and gravy combination makes one killer sandwich. I’m just sayin’.

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