Thursday, October 22, 2015

Beef, Mushroom, Leek & Spinach Meatloaf

Meatloaf is one of the quintessential comfort foods. An inextricable part of childhood, we all grew up with a family version of 'the perfect meatloaf' — each with it's own unique flavour, texture and aroma — bringing back memories from the halcyon days of our youth. There are as many interpretations of this humble dish as there are Moms and Grandmothers, each guardians of their own special recipe. Naturally, some get passed down, generation to generation, and acquire the special moniker of authorship, like Nana's Banana Cream Pie or Aunt Joyce's Peach Jam. My Mom's meatloaf is very good, but sometimes it's fun to shake the culinary tree and try out new things, like this Beef, Mushroom and Spinach Meatloaf. A florentine version of the comfort food classic, this recipe is made with lean ground beef, sautéed leeks, mushrooms and garlic, mixed with  chopped spinach, tomato paste, homemade bread crumbs, milk, eggs and dried herbs for a light, healthy and delicious comfort food classic — served of course with rich and creamy Scallion Mashed Potatoes.

Chopped leek sautéed in oil until soft

Diced mushrooms and minced garlic added

The mixture is cooked about 5-6 minutes

Ground beef is mixed with whole milk, fresh breadcrumbs, beaten eggs, tomato paste, chopped spinach, worcestershire sauce, dried thyme, oregano and the mushroom-leeks

The ingredients are thoroughly combined by hand...

..and pressed into a meatloaf pan

A spoonful of ketchup is spread on top as a sweet glaze for the final baked meatloaf

Baked at 350°F for 80 minutes, the meatloaf is hot, juicy and delicious

Mashed potatoes with butter, milk and sautéed scallions

The Scallion Mashed Potatoes ready to be served 

Beef, Mushroom, Leek & Spinach Meatloaf
Serves 6-8

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large leek
4 garlic cloves, minced
8 oz cremini mushrooms, cleaned and finely chopped
2 1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 cup whole milk
1 cup fresh breadcrumbs
2 large eggs, beaten
1 small 5 oz can tomato paste
1 package frozen spinach, thawed, drained and chopped
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp each dried thyme and oregano
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup chopped parsley for garnish, optional

Preheat oven to 350°F. Wash the leek and trim away the root end, then slice in half length-wise, and in half again to produce four long pieces, then finely slice. In a heavy sauté pan over medium-high heat, add the oil and sliced leek, and sauté until soft and lightly golden, about 6-7 minutes. Add the minced garlic and chopped mushrooms and continue to sauté until all the liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms are soft, about 5-6 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix together the ground beef, milk, breadcrumbs, beaten eggs, tomato paste, chopped spinach, worcestershire sauce, thyme, oregano and leek-mushroom mixture. Season well with salt and pepper, then combine well using your hands. Press the mixture into a loaf pan and spread the ketchup over top. 

Bake until lightly browned on top and firm to the touch, about 65-80 minutes, or when a thermometer reads 165° in the thickest part. As with any comfort food, meatloaf is delicious served with mashed potatoes and a small mixed green salad.

Mashed Potatoes with Scallions, Butter & Cream
Serves 8
6 large russet potatoes
8 whole scallions, both white and green parts, finely sliced
6 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp fresh ground black or white pepper
6 tbsp whole milk or light cream
2 tsp salt

Peel and chop the potatoes into 2 to 3-inch pieces. Bring a large pot of water to boil, add the potatoes and cook until tender, about 25 minutes. Drain in a colander once cooked, cover with a tea towel and set aside. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small pan and cook the chopped scallions over low heat until tender, about 5-10 minutes. Return the cooked potatoes to the pot over medium low heat and mash with milk or cream, then stir in the scallions and season with salt and pepper. Cover and rewarm over low heat until ready to serve, adding a wee bit of extra milk if the mash gets a bit firm.