Saturday, October 20, 2007

Potluck Saturday, Recipe Edition

I'm still trying to figure out my lineup for regular blog entries. You know how it is - the eagerness to blog generally runs far ahead of the readiness to do so. Please bear with me as I work this through, and until things settle down into a more predictable pattern, enjoy this simple twist on an American Classic that is sure to please your family and amaze your friends.

Barbecued Meatloaf

(adapted from an original recipe by John Thorne at Simple Cooking)

I like to combine several different ground meats for my meatloaf, often using varying amounts of pork, beef, veal, and/or lamb. I generally use about two total pounds of ground meat to yield a couple of formed loaves. If the grocer has some cuts on sale (like chunks of veal or chuck for stewing), I'll sometimes pick them up and grind them myself.

Be sure that your mix isn't too lean, so that the finished product has some flavor and juiciness.

I also follow John Thorne's call to first lightly cook the chopped onions to a light yellow before adding them to the mix. The cooked onions are mild and savory, while I find raw onions too harsh tasting.

Mix the cooled cooked onion with the meat in a large mixing bowl. I use my impeccably clean hands to do the mixing. It's a little messy, but the ingredients get blended more thoroughly.

Add an egg, a cup or so of fine fresh crumbs (bread, cracker, corn flake, etc.), and enough liquid (buttermilk, milk, stock, or even condensed tomato soup - though the soup will definitely add the strongest flavor of these options) to give the blend a soft consistency that isn't too wet. Mix again.

Finally, add your favorite flavoring like Worcestershire, Pickapeppa, or other savory sauce, to taste. I usually look through the fridge and use whatever needs to be finished off.

Form the mix into two loaves. I usually start by forming a big loose snowball with half the mixture, then pat the ball into a roughly oval-shaped loaf as shown in the picture. Place the loaves on a sheetpan covered with heavy duty aluminum foil.

If you're cooking your meatloaf indoors, top each one with a couple strips of bacon.

I cook mine outdoors with genuine hardwood charcoal (not coal dust briquets) in my Weber kettle grill using the indirect method. I also toss a good handful or two of dry wood chips, and use a mix of hickory, oak, and pecan, onto the grill directly over the glowing coals.

The loaves take about an hour to cook at about 350 degrees F. Serve with barbecue sauce, or homemade gravy, along with garlic mashed potatoes, steamed carrots, and buttermilk biscuits for an unforgettable meal.

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