If you are not already hip-deep in cabbage and corned beef for this weekend while slogging green beer, permit me to suggest a deep dive into the land of meatloaf. I have wanted to take the Pot Lucky into meatloaf territory for some time and finally got the chance. For a while now, I have been hosting a curated and themed potluck where guests bring their version or contribution to the theme du jour. Instead of different sides to complement a meatloaf, everyone brought a meatloaf. Crazy, right? Or luuuuuuuucky?? Where potlucks have random cubes of Velveeta with frilly picks, the meatloaf Pot Lucky has meatloaf, meatloaf, and more meatloaf. Bring containers because you will feast for the week.
Not only did guests show up with some creative styles – chorizo/beef with queso and fresh cilantro – but also different shapes – spam & ham muffins, dosed with caramelized pineapple, Hawaiian-style. Despite a few common ingredients, there was virtually no overlap with the Maui Wowie Meatloaf. It was great to see different spins on a theme. Both were unique and both delicious. The Maui Wowie was beef and pork, with a secret ingredient ….”the stale remnants of mostly gone cracker boxes lurking in the pantry”. When you think about it, kind of brilliant – using all those random odds and ends in a recipe that calls for stale crumbs anyway. That’s Pot Lucky. We also had an old timey meatloaf with mostly beef and a little piggy, and I brought a Blue Plate Special with a healthy dose of shiitake mushrooms to add that unctuous umami.
Truth be told that was my safety loaf. I created a lamb and veal loaf….My Big Fat Greek Meatloaf….but it was a maiden voyage. I couldn’t be loaf-shamed at my own gathering, so had to have a tried and true as a backup. I have now made the MBFG loaf several times and it does not disappoint. Chock-full of herbs and a healthy dose of feta and Pecorino, this loaf is kept moist with grated zucchini and a combo of ground lamb and ground veal.
If you can’t get your butcher to freshly grind the meat, be sure to combine the two meats well and work in all the ingredients evenly. I find that the vacuum-packed meat tends to be a bit harder to break up. The loaf won’t hang together fully if the ingredients are not well dispersed which can make the end result a bit crumbly. Basic meatloaf recipes will most likely use meats that are easy to source fresh ground – beef, pork, etc., but I realize that veal and lamb can be harder to come by fresh ground. There is nothing wrong with the Cryovac packages, but just use a little elbow grease when blending by hand.
The best tip I got came with the Maui Wowie: put slices of bread under the loaf – whether in a loaf pan or on a sheet pan or shallow roaster – to absorb all the juices. That is one issue I have always had with loaf pans – the juices bubble up the sides and keep the meat poaching in the juice and fat. Not only do you not shed all the unnecessary fat, you don’t get a crust because the sides are submerged in liquid. When I made My Big Fat Greek Meatloaf again, I tried a roaster with the slices of bread underneath and it got a nice crust on the sides (the top is covered with a chunky tomato glaze) and the cheeses get a lovely toasted flavor. Simply leave the slices behind when ready to serve. Or sneak a bite of crust, just to make sure you aren’t missing anything. No one is looking.
This and a big salad are all you will need for a feast. I use a lot of herbs including dill, cilantro, mint and parsley. Adding fresh herbs to any salad really elevates the profile. Okay – I lied. You can’t have meatloaf without a big batch of my goat cheese and thyme mashed potatoes. Oh, and a big pot of green beans tossed with shallot butter. This is a meal worthy of 4 face plants. Yum. Yum. Yum and yum!
I hope you are dabbling in the Pot Lucky. Potlucks are so yesterday. Why have one meatloaf when you can have six? Are you with me? In case you missed it, past Pot Luckys are linked below.
My Big Fat Greek Meatloaf is a new spin on an American Classic! Packed full of herbs and flavorful cheeses, this entree is the perfect foil to creamy mashed potatoes and shallot green beans. Sunday dinner will never be the same.
3 slices whole wheat bread, torn into pieces + 2 slices to line the pan
1 Tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 pound ground lamb
1 pound ground veal
1 small zucchini, grated
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano
1/2 cup crumbled feta
1/2 cup chopped Italian parsley
1/4 cup chopped oregano
3 cloves garlic, chopped
Zest of one lemon
1 10-ounce can diced tomatoes with green chilis, with juices
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup ketchup
2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 cup chopped mint
Preheat oven to 375oF. Pulse the bread in the work bowl of a food processor and process until finely ground. You should have about 2 cups of crumbs. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Season with salt and red pepper flakes.
Put two pieces of bread side by side in the bottom of a shallow roasting pan.
Make the topping:
In a small saucepan, heat the tomatoes, brown sugar, ketchup, and mustard. Bring to a boil and reduce heat. Simmer for 4 – 5 minutes until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and cool. Stir in mint and set aside.
Make the meatloaf:
Add the lamb, veal, zucchini, Pecorino, feta, parsley, oregano, garlic, lemon zest, and egg to the bowl with the breadcrumbs. Mix well by hand. Transfer to a cutting board and pat firmly into a loaf shape, about 9 x 5 inches, pinching together any cracks. Transfer to the roasting pan and place atop the bread slices. Make a slight indentation down the middle of the loaf.
Spoon the tomato mixture down the middle of the meatloaf and brush the juices across the top. Place in preheated oven and bake for 1 hour 15 minutes.
Cool slightly, then transfer to a cutting board, leaving the bread behind. To serve, slice.
I find that the vacuum-packed meat tends to be a bit harder to break up. Basic meatloaf recipes will most likely use meats that are easy to source fresh ground – beef, pork, etc., but I realize that veal and lamb can be harder to come by fresh ground. There is nothing wrong with the Cryovac packages, but just use a little elbow grease when blending by hand. If the ingredients are not evenly dispersed, the end result can be a bit crumbly. Mix well and firmly shape the loaf.
Placing two pieces of bread side by side in the loaf pan or on a sheet pan helps sop all those liquids cooking off of the ground lamb and veal.
I’ve cooked this in both a loaf pan and on a sheet pan or shallow roaster, and prefer the latter two choices which gives more airflow and toasts up the cheeses creating a nice crust on the sides.
Prep Time:30 minutes
Cook Time:1 hour 15 minutes
Missed previous Pot Luckys, or don’t even know what a Pot Lucky is?
I created this salad earlier this summer – in part because it is so tasty (of course), and in part because it is a starch that is hearty and filling without being potato salad. Yawn. Plus that whole mayo aversion thing I got going. It made its first appearance at the Burger Pot Lucky. And ever since, I have been getting requests for the recipe. One of the great things about adding grains to any salad is their ability to stretch. The ingredients normally found in a Greek salad are all primo, which is to say pricey. The addition of quinoa gives you bang for the buck.
If you aren’t familiar with quinoa, get to know it. It’s kind of a miracle food: it comes in several colors including black, white and red, cooks in 10-15 minutes, is high in protein, fiber, and folate, is gluten-free, and is a decent source of iron, zinc and magnesium. First cultivated in the Andes (Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador) some 4000 years ago (with non-domesticated sightings dating back more than 7000 years), Incans considered quinoa the “mother of all grains” and held it sacred, which caused the Spanish colonists to consider it pagan and led them to forbid it. But, quinoa is finally having its day – the United Nations General Assembly gave quinoa its own year – 2013 the International Year of Quinoa – to celebrate the Incan ability to preserve this ancient tradition and live in harmony with nature. Hallelujah! It was the hope of the UN that quinoa would be a major player in attaining MDGs (Millennium Development Goals) and be instrumental in maintaining SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) by providing food security, nutrition and aiding in poverty eradication. And while you are getting to know quinoa, get to know the UN and its work on food security.
Meanwhile back in the kitchen: I know I can only ask you to pit olives so many times in one summer (looking at you panzanella), so here I am telling you to pick up a jar of an olive relish or tapenade or bruschetta topping – grab a product that has done the heavy lifting for you – and make that the base of your dressing. I’m all about short cuts in cooking when possible. Trader Joe’s has a green olive tapenade that I really like and it makes a super tasty green olive vinaigrette, but check your condiment section at the grocery and see what you have available. If you can’t find something olive based, then try a pepper relish or whatever kind of bruschetta or crostini topping your joint offers.
My Big Fat Greek Salad
Green Olive Vinaigrette:
1 cup green olive tapenade (I like Trader Joe’s and use the whole 10-ounce jar. But you can also use any kind of tapenade or bruschetta spread, or just use 1 cup chopped oil-cured green or black olives. Please! No California black olives in water!!!!)
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup EVOO
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper or favorite pepper blend (lemon pepper would be amazing)
Zest of two lemons
Whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl.
Store, refrigerated, in an airtight container.
Makes 2 cups. (This salad will use about 1/3 of this Vinaigrette recipe.)
1 cup raw quinoa (red or white)
1 16-ounce can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
½ seedless English cucumber, cut in ½” dice
4 scallions, sliced
1 ½ cups halved cherry tomatoes
8 ounces feta, cubed
¼ cup each: chopped parsley, mint, dill and cilantro
Rinse and drain the quinoa, then add to a pot with tight-fitting lid along with 2 cups water or stock. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 10-15 minutes until all liquid is absorbed. Transfer to a mixing bowl and cool.
When cool, add garbanzos, cucumbers, scallions, tomatoes and feta.
Dress the salad with the green olive vinaigrette, using about 1/3 of it or more, as needed. Refrigerate until ready to serve, then add chopped herbs and check seasonings. I like to finish it off with my beloved Maldon Sea Salt Flakes. This dish can easily be made a day or so ahead, but add herbs and check seasonings and acidity at serving time.
Makes about 1 ½ quarts.
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