Posts Tagged ‘Cheddar Cheese’

So, how glamorous does meatloaf sound?  Personally, I thought Bat Out of Hell was a fine album, though I wouldn’t say he sounds glamorous.  Er, wait.  Wrong meatloaf.  Poor jokes aside, the dish generally doesn’t sound that elegant either, but this recipe makes me weak in the knees.  It’s one of those meals that I think about far too often.  The problem with most meatloaf– aside from the unappetizing name– is that it’s usually a bland brick that’s really only edible when covered in a pile of ketchup.  I always think of the grade school lunch variety.  This is a whole different experience.  Just look at that bacon!  And if you’re ready to move on from Thanksgiving leftovers, this hearty version is perfect. 

So what makes this meatloaf different?  What makes it special?  As always, it’s the ingredients.  Aside from the carrots, celery, and onions that form a good base, this dish relies on mushrooms for a complex earthiness.  There’s also cheddar to add more depth, texture, and a hint of saltiness.  And beer.  I used one of Radd’s home-brewed dark stouts, which worked nicely with the mushrooms and cheddar.  Finally, there’s the bacon.  Wow.  It makes the dish.  Not only does it add so much flavor, but it helps keep the meatloaf juicy.  Keeping this meal moist is key, so aside from the bacon, the milk-soaked bread is essential.

This meatloaf would be a wonderful centerpiece meal, accompanied by several sides, but– to be honest with you– I made it for sandwiches.  I was craving a to-die-for meatloaf sandwich and I got it.  I cut a nice thick piece and put it on a ciabatta roll, covered it with a bit of mayo and harissa and a mound of hot peppers.  Amazing.  I also found that it was incredible when paired with the homemade ketchup I made this Summer.  I’m not sure which one I like better, so I’m tempted to make another meatloaf just to find out.

The Recipe : Cheddar and Stout Meatloaf

Serves 8

2 tablespoons olive oil

2/3 cup chopped onions

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/2 cup carrots, finely chopped

1/2 cup celery, finely chopped

3/4 cup crimini mushrooms, finely chopped

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

4 ounces french bread,  (about 2 1/2 cups, cubed)

1 cup whole milk

3/4 cup Stout ale

2 pounds grass-fed ground beef

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

2 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese

10 ounces thin-sliced bacon (about 9 pieces)

Heat the oil in a 10- to -12 inch skillet over medium heat.  Cook the onion, garlic, carrots, celery, and mushrooms until softened and just beginning to brown, about 6-8 minutes.  Add the stout ale and simmer until almost all of the liquid is gone, about 4-5 minutes.  Transfer to a large bowl and let cool.

Meanwhile,  in a shallow dish soak the bread and milk, flipping once, until soggy but not falling apart, 5-10 minutes, depending upon the freshness of your bread.  Gently squeeze the milk from the bread with your hands.  You will want the bread to be moist, but not drenched.  Finely chop the bread and add to the bowl of cooked vegetables.

Position rack to center of oven and pre-heat to 375°F.  Begin to add the remaining ingredients to the bowl of vegetables and milk soaked bread — ground beef,  eggs, salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, parsley, and cheddar cheese.    Use your hands and gently mix all of the ingredients until just combined — try not to compact the mixture as you do this.

Line the bottom of a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  Put the meatloaf mixture on the pan and form a 10 x 4 – inch rectangular block (it will become loaf shaped as it bakes).  Wrap the meatloaf with the bacon in a diagonal pattern.  Leave a 1/2- inch over hang around the edges and tuck under the meatloaf.  Some pieces of bacon will need to be trimmed.

Bake until an instant read thermometer inserted into the center of the meatloaf reads 160°F, 50-60 minutes.  Then, broil the meatloaf 6-inches below the heating element until the bacon is brown and crisped, about 3 minutes.  Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.  Enjoy!

Source:  Adapted from Fine Cooking Magazine, Feb/March 2011

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It’s finally apple season!  Both my children and I have done our best to make a dent in the local apple harvest over the last couple of weeks by chomping on several a day.  Minnesota’s own Honeycrisp has become our household favorite, though we’ve eaten more than our fair share of Zestars, Cortlands, and Sweet Tangos.  There are so many beautiful varieties available right now– both sweet and tart.  For me, apple season arrives just in time.  Aside from getting to take the kids out to the apple orchard for a nice Saturday event, it’s the signal that cool, crisp Autumn days are finally here.  And, to be honest, it shows up just when I think I can’t possibly eat another berry.  That’s one of the things I love about eating seasonally– just when I start to tire of one type of produce, another one comes along to freshen things up.

What you’re looking at is one of my favorites little treats– apple and white cheddar scones.  Think about that for a minute– apples and cheese.  Sweet and savory complimenting one another perfectly!  My taste buds have been craving these scones every morning, but my jeans remind me that it maybe isn’t such a good idea.  Moderation, right?   These scones are nicely tender on the inside.  While the firm, crusty exterior really gets that whole contrasting-textures thing right.  Each bite starts with a nice crunch, followed by a perfect, melt-in-your-mouth center.

I like to use a nice tart apple variety for these scones.  The recipe calls for white cheddar, though I’ve made them with regular cheddar and they’ve been just as tasty.   Another convenient thing about this recipe is that it makes a fairly small batch– just six scones.  Your jeans will be thankful for that.  You’ll want to eat these scones soon after they come out of the oven.  However, if you are unable to eat them all on the day they were made (this WILL NOT be a problem), just leave them out uncovered.  They will retain a bit more of their crunchiness that way.

The Recipe:  Apple and White Cheddar Scones

(Makes 6)

2 firm tart apples (about 1 pound, 454 grams), peeled, cored, and cut into sixteenths

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (195 grams)

1/4 cup  granulated sugar (52 grams)

1/2 tablespoon baking powder (7.35 grams)

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (1 gram), plus extra for egg wash

6 tablespoons unsalted butter (85 grams) chilled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1/2 cup sharp white cheddar cheese (65 grams), shredded

1/4 cup heavy cream (57 grams)

2 large eggs (96 grams), at room temperature

2 teaspoons raw cane sugar  (this adds a nice crunch, substitute granulated sugar if you don’t have any)

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Position rack to center of the oven.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  Place the cut apples  in a single layer onto the baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, or until they develop a little color and are dry to the touch.  Remove from oven and let cool.

Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together and set aside.

Place the chilled butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.  Add the apples, cheese, cream, and one of the eggs.  Add the flour mixture on top of everything and mix on low until the dough just comes together.  Do not overmix.

Liberally flour a work surface and place the dough on it.  Put a little flour onto your hands and gently flatten the dough into a 6-inch circle.  Make sure the dough is even throughout, so that it bakes evenly.  Cut the circle into 6 wedges and transfer them to a lined baking sheet.

In a small bowl, beat the remaining egg with a pinch of salt.  Brush the egg wash onto each scone and sprinkle with the raw sugar.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until they are firm and very golden.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.  Enjoy!

Source:  Adapted from Bill Yoses and Melissa Clarks’s The Perfect Finish Cookbook

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