February 5, 2018
This is about...
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        RED WINE AND MEATLOAF? Admittedly, it’s a bit unusual. A LOT OF YOU HAVE PROBABLY EATEN MEATLOAF SLATHERED IN KETCHUP, OR MADE WITH SLICES OF BACON covering the top. But, pouring red wine all over it while it bakes is a new take for me. And, this version from Lynne Rosetto Kasper veers away from the basics, not once, but twice, soaking the bread in the wine too.
        MEATLOAF IS A PEASANT DISH, inexpensive and an easy way to use up scraps of food that you already have in the house—a stale piece of bread, half an onion, some slices of carrot or pepper, cheese, herbs ready to turn or HOW ABOUT WHAT’S LEFT IN THAT BOTTLE OF WINE. All of these little additions are what make any meatloaf so tasty. The wine is no exception. Although it shouldn’t be a surprise, it’s grapy flavor condenses and gets sweeter just like ketchup! And, there’s an added bonus. The reduced drippings in the bottom of the pan turn into a yummy gravy completely enhanced by what you couldn’t finish in the bottle the night before—just skim off most of the fat before serving.
        Still, just mentioning the addition of red wine makes me think it’s a little more upscale, a little more elegant. The bottom line? It just really adds a lot of flavor. It’s simply a delicious meatloaf.
        I SWITCHED UP THIS RECIPE JUST A BIT. The original version uses only beef. I added some ground pork for even more flavor and tenderness. The original recipe adds raw onion and red pepper to the mix, and, leaves the bacon uncooked. I cook the bacon ‘til crisp and then add the onion and pepper to the bacon and fat, cooking them just until soft. I think it adds to the complexity of the final dish. So, the next time there’s a half empty bottle of red sitting in your fridge that you don’t know what to do with, pull out this recipe. YUM!

LESSONS Learned:
1. Although you can use just ground beef, it will taste even better with both ground beef and pork.
2. You only need one Tablespoon of tomato paste for this recipe, so buy it in a tube, that way you’ll always have some on hand in the fridge, and you won’t waste any of it.
3. Mix gently, combining well, trying not to compress the mixture too much. Packing the mixture to tightly together will make it a tougher texture.
4. Any leftovers make for the perfect sandwich the next day!

Red Wine Meatloaf
(adapted from Lynne Rosetto Kasper)

1 large garlic clove
1/2 cup cubed (about 1/4-inch cubes) whole-wheat baguette, or other chewy bread
1/4 cup dry red wine
1 thick slice bacon, or 2 regular slices, ¼ inch dice
1/4 onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice, about ½ cup
1/4 large sweet red pepper, cut into 1/4-inch dice, about ½ cup
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
4 large fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces
1/2 cup (1-1/2 to 2 ounces) shredded Asiago or extra-sharp Cheddar cheese (on the large holes of a box grater)
2 large whole scallions, thinly sliced
1 large egg yolk
3/4 pound ground 85% beef chuck
¼ pound ground pork
1/2 cup dry red wine

Make the meatloaf:
        Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Coat a 9-inch square cake pan with cooking spray or oil.
        Turn on a food processor and drop in the garlic. Then drop in the bread cubes and process until pieces are a quarter the size of a pea. Scrape everything into a large bowl and moisten the crumbs with the wine. Let the wine soak into the bread while you prep the rest of the ingredients.
        In the same bowl of the food processor, add the onion and red pepper and process until minced. (some pieces will be larger than others)
        In a small skillet, cook the bacon until beginning to brown, add the onion, and red pepper, and cook until the vegetables are softened. Remove from the heat to cool slightly.
        In a medium size bowl, add all of the ingredients except the 2 meats. Combine well, and then add the ground beef and pork. Using a fork or spoon, gently work in the meat until everything is thoroughly mixed. Turn the mixture into the pan and shape into a plump loaf.
        Bake the meatloaf for 20 minutes. Pour the 1/2 cup of wine over it. Bake for another 30 to 40 minutes, basting occasionally with the pan juices, or until an instant read thermometer inserted into the meat loaf’s center reads 160ºF. Remove the meatloaf from the oven; let it rest about 15 minutes before slicing. The defatted accumulated juices in the bottom of the pan can be used as a delicious gravy.

Makes 4 servings.      YUM!
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