Saturday, November 17, 2012

Mexican Meatloaves with Poblano Pesto, Potato Stacks, and Marinated Lamb Chops

My son will be very upset with me, but I am not a big fan of meat loaf.  He is, particularly with savory barbeque sauce.  I wanted to make mini personal  meat loaves, but with a whole new flavor makeover.  I decided to make a Poblano Pesto, based on a creamy sauce I saw on Rachael Ray, just minus the cream sauce base.  The pesto can be used for just about anything, it is that versatile.  Here's how I made it:

Poblano Pesto
1/2 an onion (I used a yellow onion)
3 garlic cloves, finely diced
2 Poblano/Pasilla  peppers
1 teaspoon cumin seeds and 1 teaspoon thyme, ground in a small mortar and pestle
The juice of one lime
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 - 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar (or the juice of a second lime, or lemon)
salt and pepper

Seed and de-rib, and coarsely chop the Poblano/Pasilla peppers, chop the onion and finely dice the garlic on a chopping block.  Place all of the vegetable ingredients and the seeds into a food processor or blender with the lime juice.  Pulse until the vegetables have been broken down.  Begin drizzling in the evoo until it becomes a thick, smooth texture.  Taste before adding the red wine vinegar (if you do) and add salt and pepper to taste.  Keep in  mind, this is not going to taste like basil pesto.  It will have the same consistency, but not the same flavor. But people, it is goooooood!

Place the pesto in a bowl and place in the refrigerator, allowing the flavors to fully marry. 

Mexican Meatloaves

What you will need from the store:
1.5 pound package of hamburger  (sirloin and chuck mix)
1/2 onion
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped or grated
1/2 cup of the Poblano Pesto
2/3 cup of bread crumbs
1 egg
1 tablespoon cumin seed
1/2 palm full of Smoked Paprika
1 teaspoon ground mustard (for the fun of it)
Salt and Pepper
3 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 cup diced  Oaxaca Cheese and 1+ cup Mexican Blend preshredded, packaged cheese

Add the meat to a large bowl.  Add the cumin seeds, paprika, mustard, salt and pepper (pinch of S&P), Worcestershire sauce, onion, garlic, cilantro, bread crumbs and egg to the meat.  Mix thoroughly but without overdoing it.  Score the meat into four equal parts with your hand.  Let the meat sit for about ten minutes to allow the flavors to marry.  In the meantime, set your oven to 400 degrees. 

I chose to use a cast iron skillet for this, instead of a deep sided pan, or broiler pan.  I decided to allow the meat loaves to render in their own juices to keep the meat moist.  That turned out to be a good idea;  more on that at the end of this recipe. 

Take one quarter of the meat and shape it into a torpedo, then, using your fingers, hollow out the center of the torpedo and curl up the sides.  (Sorry, I forgot to have a picture of that taken, but I do have a stuffed example).  Place cubes or slices of the Oaxaca cheese and the Mexican Blend cheese into the center, along with a couple of teaspoons of the Poblano Pesto. Pinch the top of the meat loaf together.  Tip:  Do not leave the shape of the meat loaf like a torpedo, but round it.  


Place the meat loaves in the skillet, or whatever you decide to cook them in, and bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees.  Top with some of the shredded cheese and a couple of teaspoons of the pesto and place back into the oven for 15 - 20 minutes.  Remove and place the meat loaves on cooling racks and allow them to rest for a few minutes before serving.  

Tips:  As I mentioned earlier, round the sides of the meatloaves, rather than keep it in a torpedo shape.  Otherwise, the ends will be dry, but the center moist and flavorful.  We want the whole loaf moist and flavorful!  

What about sides for this dish?  I have just the thing!  My bacon, garlic, rosemary, cheesy potato stacks! 

 These amazing potato stacks are simple as can be.  I cannot take credit for inventing them, by any means. I have seen several chefs make versions of this tasty, savory side. Some have used russet potatoes shaped by cut outs, some have used baby Yukon Golds, and I used red New Potatoes.  Wash, dry and slice the potatoes about an eighth of an inch thick.  Spray the cups of a regular sized muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray.  In a large bowl, add 1 cup of your favorite shredded white cheese (I used more of the Mexican Blend), along with a large sprig of rosemary, finely diced, two cloves or garlic, grated, three or four strips of bacon, fried or baked extra crispy, and 1/2 cup of shredded or grated parmesan cheese. Mix thoroughly.  Place one of the larger potato rounds on the bottom of the muffin cup.  Add some of the cheesy, bacon mixture. Top with another potato round, more cheese, and repeat until you have used about five potato rounds topped with cheese.  Bake at 400 degrees until the top of the stacks are golden brown.  Remove the tin and allow them to cool, which allows the cheese to gently firm up the stacks, holding them together. 

Serve with the meat loaves, or any other dish you plan to serve.  That might include my next dish, my Marinated Lamb Chops!

My Rosemary, Garlic and Herb Marinated Lamb Chops

1 package lamb chops (however many people you are feeding)
1 large sprig of fresh rosemary, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
4- 6 tablespoons evoo (extra virgin olive oil)
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, crushed
Pinch of salt and pepper, each
Juice of one lime

Add all of the ingredients to either a large gallon sized zip-lock plastic bag, or to a shallow square baking dish.  I add all of the ingredients, less the chops, to a bowl, mix it thoroughly, add half of the marinade to the bag or dish, add the chops, and cover the rest with the marinade.  I allowed my chops to marinate for thirty minutes in the refrigerator, and another fifteen minutes out of the refrigerator, so as not to shock the meat when cooking.  

Add 2 - 3 tablespoons of evoo (two or three rounds around the fry pan or skillet) over medium-high heat.  When the oil ripples, add the chops.  You should hear sizzling immediately.  That is what you want! Cook the chops until medium or medium-well.  Serve with the potato stacks or a favorite side dish you enjoy!


I hope you will enjoy some or all of these recipes.  I sure had great fun making them all last night (had friends over), and learning what worked well, what I could have done better, so as to improve next time, and oh, my gentle readers, there will be a next time!!!