Wednesday, May 16, 2007

198 Pounds of Ground Beef to Go

In Which I Make Meatloaf

OK, no one's gonna accuse me of conspiracy to distribute food porn, certainly not with this beaut. Still, I may not be proud of my pic, but I'm proud of my original concoction. Our first use of of our local cow. Before getting into my recipe, let me, again, plug the use of local meat. It's easy to think local, buying a bit of lettuce here, an apple there, yet unless you are a vegetarian, your localness is limited without meat. Luckily farmers markets around Chicago are starting to offer meat with their veg. You may not want to do what we did, buy directly from a farmer, but you can still get your fill of local burger.

What I decided. I decided that we had a window, with the forthcoming cool front, to use the oven. A meatloaf takes over an hour, and in our air conditioning-less kitchen would not be a great idea soon. I've never made meatloaf before. The plan, the method seemed straightforward and easy. I could whip up my own creation on the first go-around.

I only made one boo-boo. With ramps still present, I knew they would be the key feature. I separated bulb from leaf. Chopped and sauteed the former. The leaves, I placed on the loaf after it went in the pan, my intention that it would provide a wrapper. Look French if you can picture. Unfortunately, the leaves just kind of pooled up on the top after an hour or so of cooking. I tried to crisp them up with the broiler and nearly burnt. They became an accent. Everything else worked if it made for an ugly product. Besides the ramp bottoms, I added a bit of cooked diced carrot to the meat, two slices of soaked, Whole Foods country wheat bread, a Farmer Vicki egg, a splash of cheap French cognac (purchased at a Russian style fish market), salt and pepper. The meat went into a clay loaf pan. A wrap of aluminium foil, a pre-heated 350 degree oven, and about an hour got us to dinner.

Although we have fresh vegetables, broccoli and kale, the dish seemed to demand certain classics. We still have a good amount of Michigan potatoes. I could use the already burning oven to roast those (Italian olive oil). To the chagrin of my wife, I took a package of last year's peas from the freezer ("I could use those in soup...stew..."). We ate a salad of Illinois lettuce, Illinois radishes, Illinois carrots and French cheese while the meat finished. Dressing, as mostly, was not local. Neither was the wine. When I sampled this, "soon to be next designated Beaujolais village" at House Red in Forest Park it had the fruitiness of the breed with a good deal of backbone/acid. A great buy at $14. The bottle we took home seemed to lack all the Beaujolais characteristics, reminding me instead of a mediocre California pinot.

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