My fiancé Patti is on what I call an Atkins friendly diet, and she's really avoiding wheat flour. I'm trying to do a DASH oriented diet, so I need low salt and low fat. Her son, Nick, is an ovo-lacto vegetarian. So the challenge has been to come up with recipes that we can all end. This one doesn't work for Nick, but it does for Patti and I. And it happenes to tast very good, especially in terms of moistness.
This takes about 1/2 hour total time spread out over an hour to prep and 45 mins to cook.
- 2 lbs of ground meat. My personal favoriate is ground turkey breast and some ground lamb. You can adjust the mix as you like to manipulate the fat content, but keep in mind that this recipe doesn't render out much liquid.
- 1 egg
- 2 regular packages of mushrooms, creminis work well, but buttons are good, too.
- 1 carrot
- 1 bell pepper, red if you want more sweetness.
- 1/2 white onion
- 2-3 celery stalks
- 1-3 cloves of garlic
- 1 dash of 'shire sauce or fish sauce.
- olive oil
Herbs, whatever you like. The combination I tend to use is 1 tsp each of dried thyme, rosemary, and parsley (or 2-3x if you're using fresh herbs). Or you can add home made chili powder and tumeric. Paul Prudhomme's magic salt-free seasoning mix is also very good, I add two to three teaspoons to pretty much any recipe for extra depth.
Very roughly chop the carrot, pepper, onion, celery and garlic. Then run them in small batches through a food processor, until they are finely chopped. Heat a large flat pan to med, a 14" cast iron skillet is what I use. Coat lightly with the olive oil, and put all the veggies in the pan and a dash or two of salt. The idea is to cook these down to get rid of much of the water, let it cook down for about 20 minutes stirring occaisionally. What you're looking for is a paste, when you get there take it out and press it around a large bowl so it can cool.
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees.
After it cools down enough for you to handle it, add the rest of the ingredients and mix by hand. Once it's mixed, form it up as a ball in the bowl. Then put a thin coat of oil on some aluminium foil on flat sheet pan, and turn up the edges to catch what liquid leaks out (if you're keeping the meat mix on the lean side it won't be much). Turn out the ball of mix and form into a loaf, mine usually are about 3" tall and 5" wide. You could sprinkle some additional chopped herbs and pat lightly.
Put it in the oven for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 325 degrees for about 30 minutes. You can cook it less if you poke it or probe it to make sure it's done, but I usually just let it run out the clock. Pull it, cover with a tent of foil, parchment or a bowl and let it rest for about 10-15 minutes. Cut with a sharp knife into about 3/4"-1" slices (thinner crumble if it's still hot, and you can cut them in half width wise if you want smaller portions). Patti likes it with ketchup or marinara. It's really good with some pureed cauliflower done up like mashed potatoes, that hits the traditional north american home comfort food button nicely. Or you could saute some mushrooms, add 1/4 cup each chicken broth and white, reduce and use that as a sauce. But I don't put anything on it--the nice thing about this recipe is that the veggies keep the meat from squeezing out much liquid as it cooks, so it come out really moist.
After it has had a chance to cool down in the fridge, the next day it makes for a nice sandwich on toasted bread with some brown mustard, lettuce and a thin slice of tomato.