Saturday, November 14, 2009

Beef and Veal Loaf (Page 449)

RECIPE #1043

  • Date: Saturday, November 14, 2009 -- 1pm
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Recipe Rating: A-

I am attempting to make some progress on the meatier sections of The Book, so I made this loaf of meat for lunch today. I started by soaking some cubes of bread in milk. Then I combined ground beef, ground veal, eggs, finely chopped pancetta, grated Parmesan, chopped parsley, grated lemon zest, salt, and pepper in a bowl. I squeezed the milk out of the bread, finely chopped it, and threw that in there too. Then I mixed it all up with my hands. I formed the meat into a big cylinder. The instructions then said to carefully transfer the cylinder to a skillet and brown it on all sides in oil, turning the meat cylinder with two spatulas. Yeah right! I can imagine a spatula size that would make that suggestion reasonable -- but it would be huge! Having no such spatula, I attempted to do this with two regular size spatulas and it was a disaster. Every time I turned it in the pan it lost more and more of its structural integrity, until eventually it just fell apart into 4 big chunks of meat. I then had to remove the detroyed cylinder from the skillet (which destroyed it even more!) and deglaze the pan with white wine. Then I had to put the cylinder back into the skillet (again, more destruction). At that point I tried to reform a loaf, but as you can imagine it wasn't so easy because the meat was hot, it was in a hot skillet, and sitting in hot pan juices. Plus, since the outside was browned, it was less willing to stick to itself. I did my best, then put it in the oven, basting occasionally with the pan juices. I cooked the loaf until it reached an internal temp of 150, took it out and covered it with foil to rest for 10 minutes. I sliced it and served it with the pan juices. My beef and veal loaf had been so frustrating to deal with that I was having angry thoughts by the time I was done making it. All that changed when I took a bite. Oh my gosh: Yum!! I would never have thought to put lemon zest into meatloaf, and even as I say it now, it sounds bad. But it was SO delicious. The lemon zest and white wine were amazing together and went beautifully with the meat, particularly with the pancetta. And although the browning was a huge pain in my a--, that exterior crust was incredibly tasty. Further, this meat loaf was deliciously moist. The texture was just perfect. I love a good American meat loaf, but this Italian version was awesome! If you don't have a couple huge spatulas it is probably going to fall apart and be unattractive (see photo above) but it will still taste great!

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On Thursdays my office hours start at 1pm. My class ends at 12:30pm, so in theory I have 30 minutes to eat lunch before students arrive in my office. In practice I usually have half a dozen things I need to do in those 30 minutes, so more often than not I eat while helping my students. This past Thursday one of my students arrived in my office right at 1pm, as I was just about to start eating my lunch. We had the following conversation:

Student (looking at my lunch): "You always have ramen for lunch."
Me: "Yeah. I suppose that says something about my life as of late."
Student: "It's ok, I don't really know how to cook either."

I thought about defending myself, explaining that I really do know how to cook. But she was right -- this semester I have eaten ramen for lunch more days than not. Things have been busy and somewhere along the way I lost the time to cook, and the will to pack myself a halfway reasonable lunch. Ramen is even easier than peanut butter and jelly, and it costs 17 cents. But it's a sad thing to eat ramen every day, and I am going to starting trying a little harder.

Between now and the end of the calendar year I am going to attempt to blog at least 5 times per week -- which means I will have to cook at least 5 things per week! I started getting back into the swing of cooking by knocking off three and a half recipes this morning. I need to gain a little momentum for my project again!

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