Sunday, May 11, 2008

A different take on meatloaf...

We didn't have many recipes this week since we were gone on vacation, but we did still manage to squeak out 6 new ones. Out of those few, our favorites were those Toffee and M&M Monster Cookies and that tasty Cheesy Polenta and Egg Casserole. I do have one sad note... I'm sorry to say that the lawn mowing season has officially began at our house. I actually don't mind it that much, but I did not miss it at all over the winter!

The prepartion for tonight's dinner, Tex-Mex Meatloaf-Cheddar Pie, seemed to go well, but when I was reading through the directions again, something just didn't seem right. The recipe that I had printed out only baked this dish for 20 total minutes and that didn't seem nearly enough time for a thick meatloaf. I went back to the website where I got the recipe and it had been changed to a total cooking time of 45 minutes! While I caught it before it even hit the oven, it meant dinner was going to be a little late tonight - oops!

This interesting twist on meatloaf has you begin by lining a large pie pan with roasted red bell peppers. If you are using a jarred pepper, be sure to let them drain well and you may even want to pat them dry with a paper towel. I didn't do this right away and the moist peppers just wanted to slump down - they stayed in place better once I had patted them with the paper towel. A blend of shredded Mexican cheeses is scattered on top of the peppers. The meatloaf itself is just a basic combination of lean ground sirloin, breadcrumbs, a couple eggs, parsley, and for that Tex-Mex flare, chunky salsa. I let Jeff pick out the salsa at the market so he could have some input to the recipe and he choose this habanero salsa with roasted tomatoes and cilantro from Frontera (a Rick Bayless product).

He did ask for my opinion, so I steered him to this brand - we have actually had the chipotle version before and while he did enjoy that, he said he wanted something a bit more spicy. Well, he got what he wished for... man does this stuff have a fire-y kick! While part of the salsa is used inside the meatloaf, the rest of it is spread over the top as you would with ketchup. Before the meatloaf has completely cooked, another dose of the shredded Mexican cheese blend is scattered on top and allowed to melt. The meatloaf was very moist, thanks to the addition of the spicy salsa inside - we also found that the texture allowed it to slice and present quite well after giving it the 15 minute rest. I did find that even cooking it for 45 minutes total, as you can see, the center was still a little pink... next time I would probably use a meat thermometer to test it. I didn't know if the peppers would actually adhere to the meat, but they grabbed on pretty well!

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