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~ My Mexican-Style Ground Beef & Chorizo Meatloaf ~

IMG_2713Meatloaf.  Say the word aloud in the company of family or friends, or even culinary professionals -- you'll find that almost everyone wants to share a fond memory, tell an interesting story, or, recite a favorite recipe or three.  Beware of the soul who has no affection or appreciation for meatloaf. Once a Depression-era meal born out of pure necessity, it enabled savvy home cooks to stretch precious protein in order to feed more people.  That said, everyone will nod in agreement that, nowadays, meatloaf can be whatever you want it to be: an economical family-style comfort meal or a gourmet culinary masterpiece, in the style of almost any culture, and, fit for any king.

6a0120a8551282970b01b7c8ebc36f970bA bit about meatloaf in America: American meatloaf originated in the form of scrapple, a grainy-textured mash of ground pork scraps and trimmings mixed with moistened cornmeal prior to baking in a loaf shape.  Scrapple has been served by German-speaking Americans in Pennsylvania (the PA Deutsch) since Colonial times. From this somewhat unappetizing, born-out-of-necessity beginning, savvy home cooks adopted the concept of combining ground meat(s) with milk-moistened bread, egg, onion, salt and pepper, thus, evolving, great-tasting, old-fashioned comfort food. Because cows were butchered before Winter, bacuse feeding them over the cold months was both difficult and expensive, the first modern recipes for meatloaf contained just ground beef.

As is the case with traditional American meatloaf recipes, a quick search for Mexican-style-, Texican-Style-, Tex-Mex- or Southwestern-meatloaf recipes will yield more recipes than ever imagined.  Let's be clear though, meatloaf is an all-American invention, and, the same is true for all Mexican-style recipes for meatloaf -- none of them are authentic, meaning, meatloaf is unheard of in Mexico. There are no authentic or classic recipes for meatloaf in the Mexican food world.

6a0120a8551282970b0240a4746b1b200dIt's worth mention that aside from the bright-to-tawny red color, Mexican chorizo and Spanish chorizo are not the same, so, purchase with precision.  Mexican chorizo is a fresh, ground-pork sausage with spices added, ranging from mild to spicy -- sold loose or in a casing, it is raw and must be cooked before eating it. Spanish chorizo is a dried and fully-cured or semi-cured chopped-pork sausage with spices added, ranging from mild to spicy -- sold in a casing, fully-cured is fully-cooked and can be eaten as is, while semi-cured requires cooking prior to eating.

Ground beef & chorizo together = Mexican-Style perfection. 

IMG_2628For 2, 2-2 1/2 pound meat loaves:

2  pounds lean or extra-lean ground beef (85/15 or 90/10)

1  pound ground Mexican chorizo sausage

2  extra-large eggs, lightly beaten

4  ounces saltine crackers (1 sleeve of crackers from a 1-pound box), crumbled by hand into small bits and pieces, not processed to crumbs.

1  cup milk

3  tablespoons salted butter

3/4-1 cup whole corn kernels, shaved from cooked or grilled corn on the cob, or, well-drained canned corn kernels

3/4-1  cup thin-sliced green onion, white and light green parts only

3/4-1 cup small-diced green bell pepper

3/4-1  cup small-diced red bell pepper

1/2-3/4  cup minced, fresh cilantro leaves and some tender stems

1  tablespoon chili powder

1  tablespoon ground cumin

2  teaspoons sea salt

1 1/2-2  teaspoons coarsely-ground black pepper

no-stick cooking spray, for preparing loaf pans

IMG_2637 IMG_2637 IMG_2637 IMG_2637~Step 1.  Place ground beef in a large bowl.  If the sausage is in casings, remove the casings then place the sausage in the bowl with the ground beef.  Using a fork, lightly beat the eggs and add them to the meat.  Using your hands (it's the most efficient), thoroughly combine the two.

IMG_2648 IMG_2648 IMG_2648 IMG_2648 IMG_2648 IMG_2648~Step 2.  Using your fingertips, crush the crackers into small bits and pieces, letting them fall into a medium mixing bowl as you work. Add the milk and stir to combine. Set aside about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, to allow the crackers to absorb all of the milk.  The mixture will be thick, chunky and pasty -- just perfect.  Add the cracker mixture to the meat/egg mixture, and once again, using your hands, thoroughly combine.

IMG_2631 IMG_2631 IMG_2631 IMG_2631 IMG_2631 IMG_2631~Step 3.  In a 10" skillet melt butter over low heat. Add the corn kernels along with the bell peppers and green onion.  Season with the chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Adjust heat to medium- medium-high and sauté until peppers are softened but still crunch-tender, 3-4 minutes.  Stir in the cilantro, remove from heat and cool 30 minutes.  

IMG_2672 IMG_2672 IMG_2672~Step 4.  Add the cool but still-warm vegetable mix to the meat mixture.  Using your hands, thoroughly combine -- thoroughly!

IMG_2686~Step 5.  Spray 2, 1 1/2-quart loaf pans* with no-stick spray. Divide meat mixture in half, form each half into a loaf shape and place one in each pan.  If you have a kitchen scale, now is the time to use it. There will be 4-5 pounds meatloaf mixture.  Using your fingertips, pat and press mixture flat into the pans. *Note:  My mom always baked meatloaf in glass pans.  The advantage is being able to see how fast the loaves are browning.

IMG_2687 IMG_2687~ Step 6.  Bake meatloaves on center rack of 350° oven for 1 hour, 15 minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer placed in the the thickest part of the center reaches 168°-170º.  Loaves will be bubbling and juices will be running clear.  Remove from oven and place, in pans, on a wire rack to cool about 15 minutes.  Use a spatula to remove loaves from pans.  Slice and serve hot or warm, or, cool to room temperature and refrigerate.

Without a doubt, as delicious as it looks:

IMG_3349Served w/Mexican-style adobo rice & pico de gallo: 

IMG_2703My Mexican-Style Ground Beef & Chorizo Meatloaf:  Recipe yields 2, 2-2 1/2 pound meatloaves.

Special Equipment List:  fork; 1-cup measuring container; cutting board; chef's knife; 10" nonstick skillet; nonstick spoon or spatula; 2, 8 1/2" x 4 1/2" x 2 1/2", 1 1/2-quart loaf pans, preferably glass; kitchen scale; instant-read meat thermometer; wire cooling rack

6a0120a8551282970b01b8d27640d2970cCook's Note: The fabulous '50's may be gone forever, but they are certainly not forgotten.  Remember the stainless steel diner in your hometown that served up a thick slice of mouthwatering meatloaf smothered in a smooth, rich pan gravy alongside a big scoop of fluffy mashed potatoes? Remember meatloaf day in your school cafeteria with stewed tomatoes and macaroni and cheese?  Remember the Swanson frozen meatloaf dinner slathered with a thick brown gravy and French fries?  I fondly remember each and every one, but, mostly, I remember my mom's "special" meatloaf, and:  ~ I Love My Mom's Old-Fashioned All-Beef Meatloaf ~.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2019)


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